Musicians, television personalities, and public intellectuals voiced their backing for progressive candidate José María Villalta as Costa Rica’s next president.
Approximately 20 of these supporters joined the Broad Front Party candidate at his San José office on Monday morning. A party representative read the list of 200 names. The freshly announced backers said their support stemmed from a desire to see broad social change in the country.
Guanacaste singer-songwriter Guadalupe Urbina said Villalta’s candidacy offered the best chance to transform positive aspirations into tangible changes.
“More than belonging to a political party or belonging to a set political strategy, I belong to a country that is moving towards reform,” Urbina said.
An author and University of Costa Rica (UCR) philosopher, Arnoldo Mora, urged the crowd to support Villalta as part of the country’s growing social change.
“It’s the beginning of a new age,” Mora said. “We need to transform our Costa Rica. It’s a defeated country now.”
Mora also served as culture minister during
Rafael Ángel Calderón’s presidency from 1990-1994. José Figueres Olsen’s presidency from 1994-1998. [Updated Jan. 22]
On the back of staunchly progressive rhetoric, Villalta has seen his political fortunes and those of his party grow during the campaign. Villalta’s platform has included advocacy for same-sex civil unions and broader distribution of wealth.
While the party won less than 1 percent in the previous presidential election, recent polls have Villalta either tied for the lead with former frontrunner Johnny Araya, of the ruling National Liberation Party, or in second place.
Villalta has repeatedly singled out neoliberalism – free trade, privatization and deregulation – as having caused Costa Rica’s economic woes.
“This is a party of the new majority,” Villalta said on Monday. “This new majority does not want neoliberalism.”
Critics and political opponents have characterized Villalta as extremely leftist or as inexperienced. This critique did not hold weight with his new supporters, such as former television star Leonardo Perucci. The native Chilean said the currents of change in Costa Rica reminded him of Chile.
“The youth lead the way on change,” Perucci said after the Monday conference. “For me, [Villalta’s inexperience] is a virtue.”