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 presidential elections.
According to 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 Office.
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.