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Costa Rica: return of The Decider

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


WHAT Former president José María Figueres Olsen looks like he is starting a run at returning to office, in elections scheduled for March 2014.

WHY After 14 years of working in the private sector, first as Director General of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, and then as a Madrid-based consultant, Figueres is tired of being a small fish in a big pond. Besides, who better than the son of José María Figueres Ferrer - seen by many as the founder of modern Costa Rica - to lead a country that during the past generation has become uncertain of where its future lies?

WHAT NEXT A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Figueres would likely promise a hard line on rampant crime, the main concern of most Costa Ricans. In addition, he would likely promote greater judicial security for foreign investment, and the reconstruction of Costa Rica's dilapidated roads, ports and water systems. To do this, he needs first to become the candidate of the National Liberation Party, running against such well-known opponents as Rodrigo Arias, brother of ex president Oscar Arias, and the popular mayor of San José, Johnny Araya. But Figueres has a reasonable prospect of being nominated. Projecting himself as decisive in a presidential election, Figueres could attract votes, in a country which is eager for strong leadership. That leaves the possibility of a fragmented legislature, as it has been the case for the past decade. If the next president has no majority in Congress, even a strong leader could have little to decide.

For more information, please contact Esteban Alvarez at [email protected]