San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Epsy Campbell announces the ‘hour of sweet rebellion’

After rumors that she was considering running as an independent, former Citizen Action Party (PAC) President Epsy Campbell reaffirmed her previously announced decision to seek her party´s nomination for the 2010 presidential elections.

Campbell´s candidacy has pitted her against party founder and two-time presidential nominee Ottón Solís, a move that is threatening to split the party.

Campbell, in a letter to supporters, invoked the struggle of U.S. civil rights activist Rosa Parks, who, she said, “for having refused to give up her (bus) seat to a white person and move to the back, was jailed, setting off the spark for the Civil Rights Movement.”

As she continued, Campbell, who is of Afro-Caribbean ancestry, framed the struggle in terms of gender, and not race.

While she did not name Solís specifically, her invocation of the image of a black woman refusing to give up her seat to a white man as she challenges Solís for their party´s nomination appeared to strike a chord, and has set off a very public struggle of allegiances among the party faithful.

In her letter, Campbell stressed the need to attract new members to the party through a reinvention of the party. “To promote change is a difficult task after eight years during which the greater part of the party has accustomed itself to having a ‘sole leader.´ … The hour has come for the sweet rebellion.”

The party announced this week it will hold its convention to nominate its candidate on May 30, which happens to be Solis´ birthday. While the party has traditionally held closed conventions at which its 80 members vote to nominate the party´s candidate for president, this year the convention will be open to new party members who register by April 30. Campbell had previously said she would only run if PAC held an open primary.

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