Ruling Political Party’s Future Questioned

October 8, 2004

FROM legislators to reporters to politicalanalysts, everybody seems to be askingif the corruption scandals that have rippedthrough the Social Christian Unity Party(PUSC) will bring about the party’s death,or rebirth in a different form.Started 20 years ago by formerPresident Rafael Angél Calderón (1990-1994) and boasting former PresidentMiguel Angel Rodríguez (1998-2002) asone of its main leaders, the party has sufferedtwo hard blows as both men havebeen accused of receiving funds for supportinggovernment contracts with privatefirms (see separate story).The Unity Party’s secretary generaltold the daily La Nación there is “shame,but not pain,” in the party. However,Unity’s leading presidential candidateVictor Morales has called for the resignationof the party’s executive committee,demonstrating the growing schism withinthe party’s ranks.Morales said the party must reform, andin a statement called the response of itsauthorities, “insufficient given the seriousnessof the facts and national indignation.”Political analyst Luis Guillermo Solis,director of the graduate political scienceprogram at the University of Costa Rica,agrees.“The impact has been devastating,” hesaid. “They need a profound change inleadership, a whole new agenda to combatcorruption. They need new leadership, notonly of new, different people, but also oldfaces with different values.”Mario Redondo, a Social ChristianUnity legislator and former president ofthe Legislative Assembly, told the daily AlDía that the first effort should be toreform the party, but if that is not possible,he said it might be possible to formanother party.He, along with Social Christian Unitylegislator Ricardo Toledo, said they woulddecide whether to resign from the party inthe coming months.Costa Rican President Abel Pacheco,also of Unity, said the party is more thanthe corruption of a few leaders, and has atradition of values.However, according to Solís, suspicionsof corruption have been floatingaround the party for years.“It is unwelcome but long expected.What I think is new and surprising, is theextension of the networking in these incidents.We are talking about a mafia-stylenetworking,” the political analyst said.

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