Rodrigo Chaves began a four-year term as Costa Rica’s new president, taking office with a long list of rebukes to his predecessor and the country’s political class while promising big changes
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Rodrigo Chaves began a four-year term as Costa Rica’s president on Sunday, taking office with a long list of rebukes to his predecessor and the country’s political class while promising big changes.
Shortly after receiving the ceremonial presidential sash from incumbent President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, Chaves lashed out at the state of the nation he has yet to lead, complaining about the high cost of living, the crime, drug trafficking and long lines at social security offices. .
“Not only are we going to put the house in order, we are going to rebuild it!” he swore. “It’s the sign of our time. It’s the urgency of change that can’t wait any longer, the cry of a democracy that we won’t let fade away!”
He warned that “if the political class fails once again, the country could collapse”.
He dismissed the idea, he said, shared by many, that the Central American nation is “ungovernable”.
“Look at me as I am, a humble instrument to abide by the mandate of the people, a people who have united can achieve the urgent change that history imposes on us,” he said in his inaugural address. in the national legislature.
The conservative economist, who served briefly as finance minister under Alvarado, had cast himself as the underdog in the race, noting that his Social Democratic Progress Party had never won at any level before this year.
During his campaign he called for lowering the cost of living and after winning he promised – without giving details – to start with the costs of petrol, rice and electricity.
Chaves won despite a scandal that kicked him out of the World Bank, where he was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, eventually demoted and then resigned. He denied the charges.
Costa Rica has enjoyed relative democratic stability compared to other countries in the region, but the public has grown frustrated with public corruption scandals and high unemployment.
Alvarado’s party was nearly wiped out in the February elections, receiving no seats in the new congress.