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A.M. Costa Rica
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San José, Costa Rica            Friday Edition, January 19, 2018             Vol. 18,  No.119

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Attacks on the press in an electoral campaign,
an imported strategy

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The constant attacks on the press by presidential candidate Juan Diego Castro have  marred the political campaign before the February 4 elections in Costa Rica, a country internationally recognized for its democracy and respect for freedom of expression and the press.

For several months, Castro, one of the leaders in the polls, has been acidly critical of  the media and journalists, whom he accuses of lying, persecution and participation in a dirty campaign against him.

The strongest attack happened on Monday night when he labeled the newspaper La Nación as a "diabolical lampoon" and its journalists as "psychopaths", and predicted that in one year of his presidency, the printed edition would stop circulating. Later he said that it would stop circulating because it is not profitable.

These ideas were made public when he was presenting his book, "The Deceivers of Bad Faith", which accuses the publication of persecuting him for 27 years.

On social networks, many followers of Castro support his statements, which have been condemned by other candidates and by the Journalists Association of Costa Rica, a country that in 2017 ranked sixth in the world in freedom of the press, only behind Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands in the ranking of the organization “Reporters Without Borders.”

The director of La Nation, Armando González, has said that the media and its journalists will not be intimidated and will continue to do their job properly, despite the fact that the attacks against the press generate, "sadness".

"We take this with deep sadness because they are unusual events in Costa Rica. There have been, as in all countries, disagreements between the press and politicians, but they have never had the characteristics of these attacks where by doing our job we are called as psychopaths, criminals," said González.

The director of the publication explained that, although it is sad that in an election campaign this type of speech is incorporated into the debate, the media takes it "calmly", as it relies on "the protection granted by the Costa Rican institutions" and international agreements on human rights.

La Nation has been the most attacked by Castro, but there are other media outlets that have received similar treatment, including the Semanario Universidad, University of Costa Rica paper and the television network Repretel, where he even canceled- at last minute- a live interview because he did not agree with  the appointment of the journalist who would ask him the questions.


JuanDCastro011818.jpg A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo 
  Castro is getting stronger in the polls as the election day approaches.

The Journalist Association (Colper) has asked the media not to fall into the, "games" of some candidates and their condemning insults about communication professionals.


Colper issued a statement expressing its, "categorical rejection of the candidate's offensive statements to communicators and media," and stressed that, "as a union we cannot maintain silence when a person, whoever he is, publicly catalogs a group of journalists in a contemptuous and disdainful way ".

Juan Diego Castro is a criminal lawyer who was Minister of Justice and Security in the mid-1990s. For years he was a consultant for many journalists who wanted to discuss judicial issues.

For these elections, the lawyer joined the small National Integration Party, which does not currently have a single deputy in the legislature. He launched his candidacy with a popularity in the polls that has risen thanks to his tough-line speech against corruption and crime and his strong criticism of the government and the judiciary.

His political rivals label him as populist and authoritarian, and even as a threat to democracy.

Castro is polling strongly along with Antonio Álvarez, of the National Liberation Party (PLN), and Rodolfo Piza, of the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC).

According to the polls none of the 13 candidates for the presidency come close to the 40% support needed to win in a first round on February 4.



Leftist candidate asks the Pope to support sexual diversity

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The candidate for the Presidency of Costa Rica from the leftist Broad Front Party, Edgardo Araya, has sent a letter to Pope Francis requesting that he intervene regarding the social tension that exists in the country around the subject of egalitarian marriage and the, "non-existent" gender ideology.

The candidate said in the letter sent to the Vatican and copied to the Costa Rican “Nunciature” that he is "concerned" about the social division caused by fundamentalist groups and the so-called, "gender ideology", which, in his opinion, is, "a fallacy created by religious extremists and conservatives who want to twitch the population and instill fear in their followers."

The letter comes after Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CorteIDH), confirmed the Costa Rican State should protect the human rights of the LGBTI population, including homosexual marriage and gender identity.

Araya explained that it is urgent to take action to stop what may become, "violence in society" and expressed concern about "a growing polarization regarding effective compliance with fundamental rights" in the country.

According to the leftist candidate, it is essential that the "voices of hatred and social division become expressions of love and coexistence and Pope Francis can help bring out the necessary social harmony in the country."

Following the opinion of the Inter-American Court, some presidential candidates have expressed their opposition. The Christian Democrat Alliance candidate, Mario Redondo, accused the International Court of, "violating Costa Rican sovereignty" and said he will not accept an agenda against the family coming from abroad.

The candidate of the conservative evangelical party National Restoration, Fabricio Alvarado, has stated that the criterion is an "interference with the sovereignty of the country governed by laws" and announced that in a government of his he would not recognize the resolution.


EdgardoAraya011818.jpg   A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo  
Edgardo Araya considers the issue of same-sex marriage as one that has polarized the society.


In Costa Rica, homosexual marriage is not recognized and initiatives to legalize de facto unions of same-sex couples have been stalled in Congress for years. The country has shown some progress providing insurance for these couples in the Costa Rican Social Security Fund.

The Government of Costa Rica, which requested the advisory opinion of the Inter-American Court in 2016, celebrated its issuance last week and described it as a triumph for human rights.

Immediately, the government notified the state's authorities of the Court's criteria so they could analyze their scope and determine the ways to apply it.

The Civil Registry created a commission that must issue a criterion in the coming days, while there are already same-sex couples who have announced their marriage and people who have requested a name change according to their gender identity.
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