San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Unity Party Elects New President

Amid controversy and accusations of undue influence by ex-President Rafael Angel Calderón, Jr., the embattled Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) elected a new president July 1: Luis Fishman, former legislator and vice-president, who will now serve a four-year term as the party’s leader. The result of the vote caused PUSC founder Luis Chacón to resign from the party.

Fishman, an ally and legal advisor of Calderón (1990-1994), who is under investigation for corruption by the Prosecutor’s Office, received 67 votes. His only rival, Guillermo Vargas, received 51 and claimed that Calderón “intimidated” assembly members to ensure his favorite took the day.

The new party president said Calderón “influenced” the assembly without intimidation. Fishman served as vice-president to former President Abel Pacheco (2002-2006). Because of a falling-out with Pacheco during the 2002 elections, he had no official functions during Pacheco’s administration, but did not resign his post until 2005, citing his dissatisfaction with Pacheco’s leadership. A Casa Presidencial spokeswoman told The Tico Times when Fishman resigned “he had no office, no functions, no programs, but he did have a salary” (TT, Jan. 28, 2005).

Calderón is accused of masterminding the distribution of a multimillion-dollar “commission” on a medical equipment purchase by the Social Security System (Caja).

The scandal surrounding the accusations against him – and against fellow ex-President Miguel Angel Rodríguez (1998-2002), also of PUSC – severely damaged the party’s reputation.

On Tuesday, La Nación published comments Chacón had sent to the daily in a letter, explaining his decision to leave the party. According to the party founder, Fishman’s efforts to “force the vote” demonstrated a lack of the transparency PUSC needs to reclaim its good name.


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