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Dialogue on Costa Rica’s financial future fails before it begins

A planned round table between President Carlos Alvarado, lawmakers and various community leaders to discuss Costa Rica’s financial future was canceled before it could begin.

In a joint message issued Thursday night by President Alvarado and Eduardo Cruickshank, President of the Legislative Assembly, the leaders said it will be “necessary to build a new mechanism” for dialogue after the meeting’s mediator called off talks.

Discussions mediated by Jorge Vargas Cullell, director of the TV program Estado de la Nación (State of the Nation), were scheduled to begin Saturday, but various sectors reportedly refused to participate.

According to the daily La Nación, the Costa Rican Union of Chambers and Associations of the Private Business Sector (UCCAEP) and the National Agricultural Alliance declined to meet, while several other groups didn’t respond to the invitation.

The round table was the Presidency’s response to public criticism of Costa Rica’s upcoming negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and subsequent proposed tax increases. The government has since withdrawn the bill containing the new taxes.

President Alvarado and Cruickshank — who represents the right-wing National Restoration Party — have joined in a call for dialogue rather than the demonstrations that have impacted tourism and commerce, and at times turned violent.

“Our call remains open, because Costa Rica needs to dialogue to resolve the fiscal emergency,” their joint message read.

“We will work in the coming hours and days in a multisectoral manner to reach the best formula that allows the dialogue to be concretized.”

The coronavirus pandemic has caused record unemployment in Costa Rica, and poverty has reached its highest level in decades.

The round table sought a balanced solution to poverty, unemployment and Costa Rica’s fiscal solvency in the medium term.

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