Rodrigo Chaves began a four-year term as Costa Rica’s new president, taking office with a long list of reproaches to his predecessor and the country’s political class, while promising major changes.
SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica — Rodrigo Chaves began a four-year term as Costa Rica’s president on Sunday, taking office with a long list of reproaches to his predecessor and the country’s political class, promising major changes.
Shortly after receiving the ceremonial presidential sash from outgoing President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, Chaves lashed out at the nation state he was left to lead, complaining about the high cost of living, crime, drug trafficking, and long lines at social security offices.
“Not only are we going to put the house in order, we’re going to rebuild it!” he swore. “This is the sign of our times. It is the urgency of change that cannot be postponed, the cry of a democracy that we will not let disappear!”
He warned that “if the political class fails once again, the country could fall apart”.
He dismissed the idea that many believe the Central American nation is “ungovernable.”
“Look at me as I am, a humble instrument to fulfill the mandate of the people, a people that united can achieve the urgent change that history imposes on us,” he said in his inaugural address to the national legislature.
The conservative economist, who was briefly Alvarado’s finance minister, introduced himself as the outsider in the race, noting that his Social Democratic Progress Party had never won at any level before this year.
During his campaign, he advocated lowering the cost of living and, after winning, promised – without elaborating – to start with the costs of gasoline, rice and electricity.
Chaves won despite being dogged by a scandal that expelled him from the World Bank, where he was accused of sexual harassment by several women, ended up being demoted and later resigned. He denied the charges.
Costa Rica has enjoyed relative democratic stability compared to other countries in the region, but the public has been frustrated by public corruption scandals and high unemployment.
Alvarado’s party was nearly obliterated during the February elections, not receiving seats in the new congress.