Although between rumors and confirmations the list has been mounting for months, incoming President Oscar Arias finally officially announced his Cabinet last week.
Arias said the selections are based on a meritocracy of not only intellect and experience, but also “moral character.” The Cabinet includes both young, political newcomers and experienced ministers who served on his Cabinet during his first administration (1986-1990), or the Cabinets of other Presidents.
Arias also boasted to The Tico Times that the group has the greatest number of PhDs of any Cabinet in the country’s history.
The new President has made several changes in the Cabinet format, including developing the Production Ministry, which will encompass the Ministry of Agriculture and part of the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce Ministry (MEIC), and putting the Housing Ministry in charge of the overall fight against poverty.
In addition, Arias named former minister Marco Vargas as a “minister without an assigned post” and explained that Vargas will help the Ministry of the Presidency coordinate all of the ministries.
Minister of the Presidency:
Rodrigo Arias, 59, Oscar Arias’ brother and Minister of the Presidency during his previous presidency (1986-1990), professor, lawyer.
Minister of Housing and the Fight against Poverty: Fernando Zumbado, 60, Minister of Housing and Planning during the Arias administration (1986-1990), former Latin American director of the United Nations Development Programme (1991-1999), economist.
Minister of Security: Fernando Berrocal, 61, Minister of the Presidency under the administration of Luis Alberto Monge (1982-1985), professor, lawyer, international consultant.
Minister of Environment and Energy: Roberto Dobles, 59, executive president of the Costa Rica Electricity Institute under the administration of José María Figueres (1994-1998) and executive president of the National Oil Refinery (RECOPE) under both Monge and Arias’administrations, industrial engineer (PhD).
Minister of Education: Leonardo Garnier, 51, Planning Minister under the Figueres administration (1994-1998), economist(PhD), professor,columnist.
Minister of Public Works and Transport: Karla González, 41, Vice-Minister of Transport under the administration of outgoing President Abel Pacheco (2002-2004), arbitrator.
Minister of Foreign Relations: Bruno Stagno, 36, ambassador to the United Nations during the Pacheco administration (2002-2006), diplomat.
Minister of Tourism: Carlos R. Benavides, 36, former Liberation legislator (2002-2006), lawyer.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports: María Elena Carballo, 54, writer, Fulbright scholar, philologist.
Minister of Health: María Luisa Avila, 42, former head of infectious diseases at the National Children’s Hospital (2000-2006), pediatric doctor.
Minister of Finance: Guillermo Zúñiga, 55, former Vice-Minister of Finance during the Arias administration (1986-1990), economist.
Minister of Production (aka agriculture): Alfredo Volio, 46, dairy scientist, manager of macadamia and cattle ranching companies.
Minister of Foreign Trade: Marco Vinicio Ruiz, 53, industrial engineer, businessman in agroindustry, advisor in the negotiations for the Central American Free-Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
Minister of Labor: Francisco Morales, 65, Labor Minister under the administration of Daniel Oduber (1974-1977), Agriculture Minister during the Monge administration (1982-1986), former legislator, political scientist, lawyer.
Minister of Planning and Economic Policy: Kevin Casas, 37, professor, legislative advisor, political scientist (PhD), Arias’ Second Vice-President.
Minister of Justice: Laura Chinchilla, 46, former Liberation legislator (2002-2006), Minister of Public Security during the Figueres administration (1996-1998), international consultant in judicial and police reform, Arias’ First Vice-President.
Minister of Science and Technology: Eugenia Flores, 63, biologist (PhD), professor.
Additional Minister without an assigned post: Marco Vargas, 57, former Minister of Economy (1994-1996), former Minister of Science and Technology (1995-1996), former Minister of the Presidency (1996-1998), all during the Figueres administration.