By Michael Krumholtz
of the A.M. Costa Rica
Reciting a long list of corruption and negligence from past
governments, President Luis Guillermo Solís said Thursday that a
recent history of irresponsible governing has held back Costa Rica's
development. Solís delivered his 100-day report of his
presidency that not only included a peek into his plans for reform but
also gave a scathing critique of the previous administrations'
perceived illegalities and failures.
In the first-ever report of its kind in Costa Rica, the president
announced that his administration found that illegal acts happened
every day under the various public ministries and institutions from
2006 to 2013 while Partido Liberación Nacional occupied much of
the power structure.
“In the majority of public offices the chaos is unimaginable,”
Solís said. “There has been corruption, corruption, and more
In Costa Rica there's corruption but it would never seem there's
corrupted people, Solís said, pointing to what he said was the
irresponsibility of past leaders and their ability to remain
unpunished. Among the most notable offenses that Solís listed
were the labor ministry paying pensions to people who were already dead
and the former administrations in Casa Presidencial inexplicably losing
117 state-owned cars that still cannot be found.
He admitted that the country's bureaucratic-heavy system has lead to
Costa Rica being a country known for having processes that are slow,
costly, and lacking in quality. Being one of the most inefficient
countries in the region, he said, is a shameful label that the country
they call the happiest in the world needs to shed before it can enjoy
greater levels of wealth.
“This population is the most educated, most accepting, and most
politically free in our history,” Solís said. “The people want
change and serious, doable commitments.”
Though lawmakers and some in the general public openly questioned the
report's necessity leading up to Thursday, Solís insisted that
he wants his government to be more transparent and have a constant line
of communication with the public. He said Thursday that divided
parties, like Liberación Nacional, need to let him govern and
that his administration will not be defined by the ruins left behind by
previous ruling factions.
Casa Presdiencial photo
Luis Guillermo Solís
When discussing changes that he hopes to conduct over the remaining
three years and nine months of his presidency, he mentioned needed
improvements within the Caja Costarricense de Seguridad Social that
included paying pensions to the 40,000 dependent retirees not receiving
them. He also said more attention should be given to effective spending
among public schools and universities to help young students succeed
with more scholarship opportunities and better funding. According to
the president, the government has more than 21 billion colons, or $39
million, saved up to spend on all public works.
Solís's speech lasted for a little more than an hour and was
by questions from a selection of invited guests, including questions
from the minister of Mujeres and a representative of a native group
about possible reform for marginalized groups. In response to a
question from a representative of the foreign trade sector,
the country needs more quality jobs that come from attracting foreign
investment and exporting products.
A tourism representative asked Solís if the government was going
offer a hand in keeping the sector afloat following the implementation
of a potentially crippling sales tax. The president responded that his
administration is trying to give the necessary support to tourism
leaders for the industry to be competitive on a regional scale and that
there was open dialogue involving the controversial 13 percent tax
recently added to certain tours that businesses depend on.