San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Astronaut Denies Political Aspirations

• AstronautFranklin Chang hasno interest in becomingVice-President ofCosta Rica, his mothertold the daily AlDía. Chang’s mother,María Eugenia Díaz,said presidential candidateOscar Ariaswas in Chang’s housea month ago and invited him to join hiscampaign, but Chang declined the offerbecause he does not want to be a politician.Chang recently announced he isleaving the U.S. National Aeronautics andSpace Administration (NASA) to work ona private initiative to build a plasma rocket.• Meanwhile, Arias, who wasPresident from 1986-1990, denied havingoffered Chang the job, the daily LaNación reported. He said it is very earlyto be thinking of candidates for Vice-President. Arias said he merely confirmed,in response to a reporter’s question, that it“would be an honor” to have Chang as hisrunning mate.• While officially staying out of politics,Chang will, on Sunday, begin meetingwith the other members of the councilof notables studying the pros and cons ofthe Central American Free-TradeAgreement with the United States(CAFTA).• The National Liberation Party (PLN)and the Social Christian Unity Party(PUSC) are the only two political parties– in approximately 12 vying for thePresidency – that have started campaignsin radio, television or print media.Liberation, whose candidate is Arias, hadspent approximately ¢127 million($266,000) as of June, and Unity candidateRicardo Toledo, who has yet to benamed the party’s official candidate, willhave spent an estimated ¢12.8 million($27,000) by the end of July.• The Supreme Elections Tribunal(TSE) has dashed Everardo Rodríguez’shopes of being the presidential candidatefor the Unity Party. The tribunal discardedRodríguez’s recently filed complaintalleging the Unity Party has treated himunfairly in the race for the PUSC candidacy(TT, July 8). Ricardo Toledo is now theonly remaining PUSC candidate.• U.S. Secretary of Defense DonaldRumsfeld accused Venezuela of “activelylobbying local legislators in CentralAmerica to vote against CAFTA” in a columnpublished in the Miami Herald. Hesays Venezuela and Cuba, which he calls“no friends to the United States,” are promotingradicalism and trying to derailCentral America’s path toward democracy,peace and prosperity. Costa Rican legislatorsopposed to CAFTA told the daily AlDía they have not received any pressurefrom Venezuela or Cuba.• As CAFTA appears one step awayfrom becoming a reality in the UnitedStates (approval by the U.S. House ofRepresentatives is all that’s missing),Citizen Action Party (PAC) presidentialcandidate Ottón Solís continues to insiston renegotiation. He has also added openingthe U.S. borders to Costa Rican immigrantsto his list of demands, La Naciónreported. The United States can start bylegalizing Costa Ricans who already workthere, he said.

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