Rodrigo Chaves, Costa Rica’s new president, was sworn in, promising to tackle corruption and rebuild the country’s economy. Last month, he won a four-year term in a runoff against former President Jose Maria Figueres, who was also stained by a corruption investigation. During the first-round election in February, Chaves’ predecessor Carlos Alvarado’s party was nearly wiped out, earning no seats in the new Legislative Assembly. Chaves’ Social Democratic Progressive Party holds only ten of the legislature’s 57 seats, making him a surprise qualifier for the runoff after finishing fourth in the first round.
- Chaves lashed out at the status of the country shortly after receiving the ceremonial presidential sash, screaming about the high cost of living, crime, drug trafficking, and long line-ups at social security offices.
- As feminist groups demonstrated nearby, Chaves also promised to abolish gender discrimination and maltreatment of women.
- Their gathering served as a reminder to the 60-year-old former finance minister about sexual harassment charges that led to his departure.
- Chaves made unpleasant comments about physical appearances and unwelcome sexual approaches against many bank workers, according to an internal probe.
- The inauguration was attended by Spain’s King Felipe VI, other leaders of state or government, and representatives from approximately 100 countries.
- Chaves signed his first orders shortly after his speech, including removing the requirement for most individuals to wear masks.
- Costa Rica is one of Central America’s most politically stable countries, having a population of roughly five million people.
- Despite this, the country has challenges such as social inequality, corruption, starvation, and drug trafficking.
Chaves inherits an economy in decline, with mounting foreign debt (about 70% of GDP), a poverty rate of 23%, unemployment of nearly 14%, and government corruption. The COVID-19 epidemic impacted tourism, one of the country’s key economic drivers, hard, causes unemployment to skyrocket. Chaves previously promised to alter the terms of a $1.7 billion (€1.61 billion) loan agreement Costa Rica struck with the IMF.