San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Polls Not Much Help

Polls of public opinion on the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA) have been abundant – and often contradictory – in the years since Costa Rica began negotiations. In addition, last year’s down-to-the-wire presidential elections between pro-CAFTA candidate Oscar Arias and anti-CAFTA candidate Ottón Solís showed that polls, which had generally predicted a sturdy Arias victory, can fail miserably.

What’s more, if the polls show anything concrete, it’s that many Costa Rican are still unsure about the controversial pact. One of the most recent CAFTA polls, conducted by the firm Unimer for the daily La Nación and published March 13, showed 35% of respondents in favor of legislative ratification of CAFTA; 26% against; and a whopping 39% undecided.

In the same poll, only 37% of respondents said CAFTA would have “good” or “very good” effects on the country, down from 51% last September.

In short: it appears to be either side’s referendum to win.


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