Luis Guillermo Solís started his first day in office as president bright and early Friday morning, and the historian-turned-president already has starting shaking things up, starting with the gardening.
Solís, who campaigned on an anti-corruption platform of transparency and greater citizen participation, ordered the bushes behind a fence at the front entrance of the Casa Presidencial to be cut back.
“This is the house of all Costa Ricans. This afternoon I asked to prune back the bushes that block the view of the Costa Rican Casa Presidencial from the street,” Solís said on his Facebook page.
In his inauguration speech Solís said that he wanted Casa Presidencial to be a “crystal house” where citizens will be able to use technology and the Internet to scrutinize and share their input. The presidential offices remain a concrete bunker-like structure, but the symbolic move attempted to set the tone for his administration’s anti-corruption goals.
“Corruption is eating our democracy and ruining public finances. The new government will fight this relentlessly,” Solís told 22,000 attendants at his Thursday inauguration at San José’s National Stadium.
“The government will do this because when citizens lose confidence in their institutions and deem their rulers unworthy, democracy sinks; democracy loses its way and dies,” he said.
The president encouraged civil society to play an active role policing public spending and mismanagement.
Former President Laura Chinchilla’s government was dogged by the popular notion that her administration was rife with corruption and mismanagement.
“Excellent symbolic act!” cheered one user on Facebook, “Public institutions are of the people and for the people!”
“Unnecessary,” opined another commenter, “If I see some employee slacking off and I call him out a guard will just come over and tell me to leave…”
Some comments even lamented the perceived loss of animal habitat as groundskeepers took electric clippers to the bushes.
Regardless of how people took the symbolic act, Solís’ inauguration speech left little doubt that transparency was a key concern of his government.