San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Citizens Express Doubts, Hope for Arias Administration

As Nobel laureates and world leaders gathered to see Oscar Arias don the sash of the Costa Rican presidency Monday, Josefinos reacted with a mixture of hope and skepticism.

In sodas and bars near the San José city center, national pride and optimism about Arias’ plans for his tenure were evident, alongside feelings that the more than ¢100 million ($198,000) spent on the event would have been better used for social programs.

In the lobby of the Hotel Posada del Museo, receptionist Flor Carmona, 49, said the money spent on the ceremony was wasted.

“We have had so many Presidents who talk and talk and in the end … don’t get results,” said Carmona, who did not vote for Arias. “With so much ceremony, they are spending a ton of money, and there is so much need in this country.”

Nevertheless, Carmona, whose son is deaf, said she believes Arias’ government will do more to help the disabled than the administration of outgoing President Abel Pacheco.

At El Marino Feliz, a bar near the city center, former journalist José Fonseca ignited a lively debate by arguing that the cost of the festivities is a necessary investment.

“If you want to project an image, you have to invest,” said Fonseca, suggesting that international recognition is important to the tourist sector of Costa Rica’s economy.

Restaurant manager Francisco Solano, watching the event from his café, La Corte, said the ceremony is evidence of Arias’ penchant for pomp.

“He tries to seem humble, but he’s ostentatious,” said Solano, 58, who also expressed skepticism about Arias’ ability to makes the changes people desire.

At Café Las Cerezas, patrons watched the live broadcast of Arias’ inauguration speech intently, and customer Mauricio Morales said he is satisfied with the new President’s fiscal plan and his ideas for combating poverty.


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