Calderón Meets with Past and Present Legislators

November 25, 2005

CELEBRATING just over a month free from house arrest, former President Rafael Angel Calderón (1990-1994) had lunch Wednesday with a group of current and former legislators from the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) – and discussed the possibility of running for President in 2010, the newswire ACANEFE reported.Although Calderón, 55, is officially suspended from the party pending an investigation into allegations of corruption, the lunch was held as a demonstration of affection for the former President, explained former legislator Luis Manuel Chacón, who organized the event.Calderón denied that the lunch, held at restaurant Il Ritorno de Casa Italia in San José, was anything more than a meal among friends. He added that he is not participating in this year’s Unity campaign for either legislators or President, but admitted the February 2006 elections might be discussed at the lunch.The Unity party and its presidential candidate, Ricardo Toledo, are facing historic lows in the polls, with Toledo trailing behind at least three other candidates.“There are polls that put us in second, there are polls that put us behind – the big poll with be in February,” Calderón responded, adding that National Liberation Party candidate and fellow ex-President Oscar Arias will have the largest number of votes in the first round, but perhaps not enough to avoid a second round.Calderón said he offers his opinion when asked regarding Unity’s candidates, and that he has received great support from the party’s leaders and base during his limited recent travels around the country.Although Calderón said “it is premature to think about it,’’ he said he “of course does not rule out’’ attempting a second presidential term, ACAN-EFE reported.During the party’s national assembly in August to select legislative candidates, allegiance was clearly given to Calderón’s desired candidates rather than those Toledo hoped would fill the posts (TT, Aug. 19).Regarding whether this split continues, Unity legislator Aida Faingezicht said that any true Unity member has to support the party’s candidates for the Legislative Assembly, but suggested the same cannot be said for the party’s presidential candidate. She added that the role of the lunch was not to convince Calderón to “establish this relationship.”Chacón reiterated that Calderón is separated officially from the party “until he resolves his problems.”Regarding whether this split continues, Unity legislator Aida Faingezicht said that any true Unity member has to support the party’s candidates for the Legislative Assembly, but suggested the same cannot be said for the party’s presidential candidate. She added that the role of the lunch was not to convince Calderón to “establish this relationship.”Chacón reiterated that Calderón is separated officially from the party “until he resolves his problems.”The former President was arrested last year following allegations of corruption against him (TT, Oct. 22, 2004).He is accused of distributing a $9.2 million commission on a medical equipment purchase by the Social Security System (Caja), and served a series of preventive detention orders both in his home and at La Reforma Penitentiary in the province of Alajuela – as did his fellow ex-President Miguel Angel Rodríguez (1998-2002) – before being released last month.

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