San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Unions’Warning to Arias Prompts Harsh Words

A declaration late last week by variousunions, syndicates and other groupsthat they would not recognize a futurepresidency of Oscar Arias should the ex-President win the February 2006 electionhas provoked harsh criticism from varioussectors in the country.The declaration came from theNational Social Network – a collection oforganizations opposed to the CentralAmerican Free-Trade Agreement with theUnited States (CAFTA).Arias, a strong CAFTA supporter, wasPresident 1986-1990 and obtained theright to run for re-election in 2003 afterthe Constitutional Chamber of the SupremeCourt (Sala IV) declared that a lawprohibiting reelection is unconstitutional.At an April 14 summit, CAFTA opponentsdeclared that an Arias governmentwould not be considered legitimate, andcalled the Sala IV’s decision unconstitutionaland a “coup.”The same accusations have since beenthrust against member organizations ofthe social network by legislators, businesschambers, and Arias himself.For example, the Costa Rican Chamberof Commerce published a statement in thedaily newspapers La Nación and DiarioExtra saying the country’s syndicates arethe ones threatening a coup.President Abel Pacheco also condemnedthe unions’ declaration at hisweekly Cabinet meeting Tuesday.“Neither Pacheco nor the unions (ruleCosta Rica). Here it’s the law (thatrules),” he said.Asked if the unions are threatening therule of law, Pacheco responded, “I haven’tseen a travesty so big in the time that I’vebeen President. The only explanation Ihave for it is that there are non-CostaRican voices coming from those throats.”

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