Jose Maria Villalta
CAÑAS, Guanacaste – In the strong wind and baking Guanacaste sun, voters in this northwestern province headed to the polls peacefully Sunday morning, but expressed doubt that the change they needed in their everyday lives would come with a new administration.
While a few political flags waved in the streets Saturday night, Costa Ricans quietly readied themselves for the end of a hard-fought electoral campaign and a Sunday vote to decide the country’s next president and Legislative Assembly.
The daily La Nación reported today that a special police security detail was assigned to Broad Front Party presidential candidate José María Villalta last Thursday after the candidate received death threats.
Ruling party candidate Johnny Araya clings to a small lead, according to a poll released Tuesday night. Costa Ricans will vote on the country's next president Sunday.
Costa Rica now faces what would have been an unthinkable proposition a year ago – a new political party taking over the government.
The rise of the left in Latin America could see reinforcement with a triumph by the Broad Front Party (FA) that would be historic in Costa Rica, and the re-election of the ex-guerrilla Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front in El Salvador in simultaneous elections on Sunday.
A new CID-Gallup poll has ruling party candidate Johnny Araya holding on to his lead less than a week before Sunday's presidential elections. But Araya remains 5 percentage points short of avoiding a run-off, with three candidates battling for second place.
In the last debate before Costa Rica decides its next president (or at least whoever will make it to the second round), several leading candidates faced down old accusations and questions.
Johnny Araya, the ruling National Liberation Party's candidate for president and a poll leader heading into the Feb. 2 vote, promised Sunday to lead an administration with a "social face" if elected. Araya made the statement during a San José rally to wrap up his campaign.