San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Libertarians Elect New Chief, Other Parties Stick By Leaders

Three of the four largest political factions in the Legislative Assembly re-elected their leaders in recent weeks – while the fourth, the Libertarian Movement, engaged in a men-versus-woman battle that culminated in the election of a new faction head.

Luis Antonio Barrantes took over the post, previously held by Evita Arguedas, who disagrees with Barrantes and the four other Libertarian legislators regarding the upcoming election of the assembly president. Following the disagreement, Arguedas announced she would not run again.

Arguedas told the daily La Nación she’ll probably support current president Francisco Pacheco of the leading National Liberation Party (PLN) because he strongly favors the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA).

However, her five colleagues complained that Liberation has not held up its end of the bargain struck with the Libertarians one year ago, and voted to pull their support from the Liberation candidate.

Libertarian Movement party leader and former presidential candidate Otto Guevara also told the press the leading party has not done enough to support his party’s initiatives.

Arguedas told the daily that some within the party – which was known for its extremist opposition tactics during the 2002-2006 legislative term, but has struck a more conciliatory note this time around –are “returning to ‘no for the sake of no,’” while she represents a more moderate, negotiation-based strategy.

Asked whether machismo is a problem in her party, Arguedas, who was part of a group of four women elected as the heads of the four leading parties this past year, said she believes the party lacks “a clear understanding that a party can’t come to power without the force of women.”

Meanwhile, Liberation re-elected faction head Mayi Antillón; the opposition Citizen Action Party (PAC) put Elizabeth Fonseca back in charge; and the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) continues to be led by Lorena Vásquez.

The four remaining parties in the Legislative Assembly have only one legislator apiece: Access Without Exclusion (Oscar López), the Broad Front (José Merino), National Union (José Manuel Echandi) and National Restoration (Guyón Massey).


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