Costa Rica. In early October, an ex-president was
sentenced to prison for corruption for the first time in
Costa Rica. It was Rafael Calderón, President 1990-94, who,
after ten months of trial, was sentenced to five years in
prison for forfeiting $ 520,000 of his own, which was part
of a loan from the Finnish government for the purchase of
medical equipment, and placed on a bank account in Panama.
In connection with the verdict, Calderón announced that he
was abandoning his plans to run in the February 2010
countryaah, two other presidents, Miguel Ángel Rodríguez (1998–2002)
and José María Figueres (1994–98), have been charged with
embezzlement of a total of $ 2.8 million. The incumbent
President, Oscar Arias Sánchez, presented several measures
during the year to dampen the effects of the global
financial crisis in Costa Rica, which has one of the most
vital economies in the region.
In September, the Pacheco government almost fell apart.
The Foreign Trade and Transport Ministers, Alberto Trejos
and Javier Chávez, made their resignation request after the
resignation of Minister of Economy Alberto Dent with the
economic sector coordinator - with the rank of Minister -
Ronulfo Jiménez and Prime Minister Ricardo Toledo. The
ministers cited personal reasons as a reason for their
resignation, but political observers pointed out that there
were major internal disagreements within the government
about Pacheco's control over public spending. The government
crisis erupted following new protests from the trade union
movement and after the government had accepted a contentious
pay rise for public servants.
In October, it was revealed that the country's former
president and current secretary general of the OAS, Miguel
Angel Rodríguez, had received 60% of a return commission of
$ 2 million. US $ from the French telecommunications company
Alcatel. The information came from José Antonio Lobo, former
minister and adviser to Rodríguez during his administration.
Rodríguez stated that Lobos' statements "had nothing to do
with reality". He explained that he had asked Lobo for $
140,000 for his campaign to become OAS Secretary General.
The charges led to calls from the most diverse sectors of
San José that Rodríguez resigned as secretary general and
returned home to explain his conduct. Pacheco, who, like
Rodríguez, is a member of the PUSC, stated that he was also
awaiting such explanations.
That same month, just two weeks after taking over the
post of Secretary-General, Rodríguez resigned. The Costa
Rican judiciary initiated a formal investigation, and
Rodríguez was summoned to the San Jose State Attorney's
The government declared 3 days of country care in July
2005 following a fire at a San José hospital that cost 17
patients and a nurse's life.
The PLN won by a narrow margin in February 2006 and the
party's presidential candidate, Oscar Arias, who had
received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987, won over the PAC's
Ottón Solís, and was able to sit for the presidency for the
second time. Arias faced a people divided in the issue of
the Central American Common Market CAFTA, and that met him
with a sense of skepticism and hope. In his accession
speech, Arias promised more jobs, greater security and a
reduction in the high cost of living.
In October 2006, the country introduced a floating
exchange rate system for its currency, Colon. It has
stabilized its course against US $ and it can now move
within a band with an upper and lower course.
The country has managed to develop a more diverse
economy, so it is not just based on tourism, bananas and
coffee. It has succeeded in attracting a large number of
foreign companies. The most important of these is an Intel
factory that produces microprocessors, employs 3500 and in
2006 accounted for 20% of the country's exports.
In April 2007, Arya's referendum in October outlined
whether Costa Rica should join the Central American Common
Market, CAFTA. The accession was adopted by a narrow
majority of 51.56%, while 48.44% voted against.