San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Weakened political party redefines image, message

As their party leader sits on trial on corruption charges, members of Costa Rica´s Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) are in the process of revamping their image.

In front of a room of reporters and camera crews at the Hotel Grano de Oro in San José on Wednesday morning, they unrolled a new logo, previewed a series of television commercials and adopted a new name, all in the hopes of resurfacing in time to make an impact on the February 2010 election.

“We are a party with 25 years of experience, which has accomplished great things for this country,” said Luis Fischman, president of the center-right party. “Despite great challenges ahead, we should evolve politically to benefit all Costa Ricans.”

But Fischman acknowledged that the party is in recovery mode, after its reputation plunged in 2004 with the incarceration of an individual who long-defined the group.

Former president and party leader Rafael Angel Calderón is currently on trial under allegations that he bribed public officials to secure a deal between a Finnish medical equipment firm and the Costa Rican government in 2005. During the following Legislative Assembly election in 2006, PUSC lost 14 seats.

But Fischman and other party members are throwing their support behind Calderón, under full faith that he will be proven innocent when the trial comes to a close.

Speaking of the people leveling accusations against Calderón, Fischman said, “I think they would be happy if this party disappeared.”

The political party´s makeover includes a new official name – La Unidad (Unity) – and a logo representing promised protection by the party for the country´s workers and needy; two groups that PUSC has traditionally represented, according to Fischman.

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