Pacheco, Arias Get Chilly Receptions

July 22, 2005

• President AbelPacheco publiclydenied a story publishedin the daily LaNación that saidattendees of a ceremonyto celebrate thenew Catholic diocesesof Cartago receivedthe President with“displeasure” andignored his speech. Pacheco said he wasreceived with open arms by all but a handfulof union leaders outside the churchwho voiced protests to the President. Headded that by the time he gave his speech,some attendees were tired of the more thanthree-hour ceremony.• Pacheco also questioned LaNación’s reporting when he denied areport in the newspaper that said he haslost some of his most trusted advisors andnow relies only on members of hisCabinet for guidance. The President sayshe still has a strong support group thatgoes beyond his Cabinet. He added, as hehas in the past, that no one advises himon his image or appearance.• Pacheco told the press this week hesupports Colombian Luis Alberto Morenoin the competitive race for the presidencyof the Inter-American Development Bank(IDB) because he is “very wise despitelooking very young” and becauseColombian President Alvaro Uribe“arrived first” to ask for his support.Pacheco said Nicaraguan PresidentEnrique Bolaños later asked for CostaRica’s support for the Nicaraguan candidate,but Pacheco told him he was toolate. The official vote for the covetedpost, now held by Enrique Iglesias, isexpected to take place July 27 (TT,July 15).• Legislators returned Monday from aweek and a half of vacation and stillhaven’t set a date to select a newombudsman, the official who acts as aliaison between the public and government.The Ombudsman’s Office haslacked a leader since July 3, when theinterim ombudsman’s term expired.Former Ombudsman José ManuelEchandi left the post in June after notbeing reelected – he is now running forPresident. Work has continued in theoffice, but nothing can be made officialwithout the ombudsman’s signature.• Other items on the legislative agendainclude discussion of the PermanentFiscal Reform Plan and the free-tradeagreement with the Caribbean community(CARICOM).• Students at the University of CostaRica booed presidential candidate OscarArias off their campus Tuesday while hewas there for an interview with the universitytelevision station. The 20-25protesting students, described as “violentin their language and gestures” by Arias’spokeswoman, prevented the candidatefrom attending his interview. They saidhe did not deserve to speak to universitymedia after fellow members of hisNational Liberation Party said the universitymedia could become “subversive”and “generate instability.” Students alsoprotested Arias’ support of the CentralAmerican Free-Trade Agreement with theUnited States (CAFTA). The Arias campaignhas said they believe young peopleare key to securing victory in theFebruary 2006 elections, and has targetedyouth through cell phone calls and adsduring movies (TT, June 10).

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