San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Anti-CAFTA Leader Announces Presidential Bid

Costa Rica’s political left wing is seeking to unite behind academic Eugenio Trejos after he announced last week his decision to run in the February 2010 presidential election.

Trejos helped spearhead the movement against the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA), which went into effect in Costa Rica this year after much debate and protest.

The 48-year-old economist, who serves as rector at the Technological Institute of Costa Rica, will represent the Broad Front Party; a left-leaning, anti-capitalist, proequality group that finds its base in unions and other social organizations.

José Merino, the sole Broad Front lawmaker in the Legislative Assembly, said Trejos was the best choice for the 2010 presidential ballot because of his ability to forge an alliance among like-minded individuals.

“He is an intellectual and has long served Costa Rica,” Merino said of the candidate.

“Through his work on (trying to prevent) the Central American Free-Trade Agreement, people learned of his values, his intellect and his political capabilities. He won the respect of many people within the country.”

The movement failed to block CAFTA, which won narrow approval in an October 2007 referendum. It took effect on Jan. 1, 2009.

Asked whether Trejos has a chance of winning the presidency, Merino said, “I think it will be difficult, but I have no doubt the further we unify our forces, we open the door to the possibility of successes in the future. There are many people in Costa Rica who want change.”

Trejos will join a long list of presidential aspirants, including Laura Chinchilla of the governing National Liberation Party, Ottón Solís of the Citizen Action Party, Rafael Angel Calderón of the Unity Party, Otto Guevara of the Libertarian Movement Party and, most recently, Sherman Thomas of the Patriotic Alliance Party, among others.

Thomas, a university professor from a humble background, has served as a scientific advisor to the Education Ministry. He said he is running to respond to the “silent screams for change” from the Costa Rican people.

–Chrissie Long


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