Arias Campaign Got 75% of Recent Donations
• Traditional party lines continued to disappear last week as two longtime loyalists of the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) announced their adherence to the Citizen Action Party (PAC). Victor Morales and Oscar Aguilar, who both once sought the presidency under the Unity flag, said they will throw their support behind PAC presidential candidate Ottón Solís in the Feb. 5 elections. Morales, a former Labor Minister, only months ago was fighting to be the Unity presidential candidate and later a Unity legislator, both of which he was denied. Morales denied that he joined PAC for political aspirations. Many longtime leaders in both PUSC and the National Liberation Party (PLN) – Costa Rica’s two traditional parties – have recently realigned themselves with other parties for the 2006 election.
• Liberation candidate Oscar Arias responded to assertions made by Solís that his party is unifying the country by reminding the PAC candidate that half the voters who voted for Solís in 2002 are now with Arias.
• This support has been monetary as well. Liberation, and candidate Arias, received 75% of all political donations in the second semester of 2005, not including December, the daily La Nación reported based on data from the Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) and party Websites. National parties received approximately ¢414 million ($836,000) from July to November 2005, with ¢313 million ($632,000) going to Liberation, ¢48.2 million ($97,000) going to the Libertarian Movement party, ¢14 million ($28,000) to PAC and ¢17 million ($34,000) to PUSC.
• All this presidential campaigning might be in vain if what Costa Rican Renovation candidate Bolívar Serrano says is true. The candidate told Al Día last week that God confirmed he will win the elections. Serrano has in the past told the daily a similar statement, and said last week that God recently confirmed his victory. He is so certain of victory that when asked how his campaign is going, he said, “I don’t know, I was in Chile.”
• Costa Rica’s historic relations with Taiwan could be swapped for a bigger fish depending on which candidate lands in the Casa Presidencial. Two of the leading three candidates – Solís and Guevara – told La Nación that, if elected, they would evaluate strengthening diplomatic relations with China and modifying relations with Taiwan. Costa Rica is one of only 25 countries that recognize the nationhood of Taiwan, which China considers a rebel state. Arias said he would not refer to the matter until after the elections, though in the past he has said he would support increased commercial relations with China.
• Liberation’s green-and-white flags can be seen waving over homes all over the country, but this doesn’t mean the party has support everywhere. The party has stuck flags on residences without the owners’ knowledge, in some cases striking households that pledge their allegiance to other parties, La Nación reported.
PAC denounced these practices, and La Nación found Liberation flags waving above the home of a dentist who plans to vote for Unity, a Nicaraguan’s home, and a woman who said she allowed it because Liberation party members offered to repair her house.
• While the top three parties that lead the polls (Liberation, PAC and Libertarian Movement) are following tradition and preparing thousands of cars, hundreds of buses, boats and even horses to get their supporters to their voting precincts Feb. 5, the fourth-place Union for Change (UPC) told La Nación they will not offer ordinary voters transportation, reserving the offer for only handicapped and seniors. UPC campaign head Roberto Gallardo said they are asking their supporters to use the transportation offered by other parties.
• Landing a seat in the Legislative Assembly costs on average ¢11 million ($22,000), an amount that comes from not only donations, but savings and personal debt, according to a report in the daily Al Día based on evaluations of 12 legislative candidates. Candidates often double the amount their party spends on them, up to $40,000. The only exception is the famously budget-minded PAC, in which two legislative candidates said they have spent no more than ¢500,000 ($1,000).
• PAC legislative candidates signed a letter Monday agreeing to voluntarily resign from the Legislative Assembly if they leave the party or are kicked out by PAC’s ethics tribunal. The party’s candidates have signed an ethics code saying that, if elected, they will not use Legislative Assembly vehicles and are limited in the number of advisors they can hire, number of foreign trips they can take, and amount of phone calls they can make, among other things. PAC legislators were asked to commit to an ethics code in 2002; of the 14 legislators elected that year, six left the party because of the code, but remain in the assembly.
• A legislative commission has approved a bill to promote organic agriculture in Costa Rica. The bill aims to not only provide basic regulations and certifications, but also strengthen the industry through programs organized by the Ministry of Agriculture (MAG). According to ministry data, approximately 9,000 producers are dedicated to organic agriculture, a third of which are certified by international organizations.
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