San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

The Oscar-Rodrigo Political Machine

Oscar Arias has described younger brother Rodrigo as his “right and left hand.” Though not particularly close as children, according to Rodrigo, they became closer as adults when political campaign battles united the brotherly front.

Both headed abroad for their graduate studies – Oscar to Harvard and the University of Essex, England, and Rodrigo to the University of Pennsylvania. Oscar’s mind played with concepts of public good, working as a legislator and Planning Minister, while Rodrigo was studying corporate law and serving as the president of Costa Rica’s Stock Exchange.

They joined forces on Oscar’s first campaign in 1986, which Rodrigo led, and he became his brother’s Presidency Minister as the administration began, a role he’s reprising in their current term. The younger Arias is highly visible in the administration, running weekly press conferences at Casa Presidencial – a task reserved for the President in the 2002-2006 administration – and generally serving as his brother’s spokesman.

Listening to them describe each other, it’s evident why Rodrigo’s afforded this position: the brothers echo each other.

“Rodrigo is much more pragmatic, with his feet more on the ground, more executive and more patient than I am,” Oscar said. “I’m more idealistic, more of a Quixote, more impatient. Rodrigo analyzes details, I look at the big picture, and, diay, I’m definitely more intellectual… But we complement each other well.”

“Yes, the President is more intellectual,” Rodrigo said in a separate interview. “I’m more practical, I’m more private business. He’s more in the field of public policy. We complement each other a lot … It’s good because two people think better than one and we have a great mutual trust. He’s President and I’m the minister, which I like because it gives me power to coordinate the government from the inside.”


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