San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

President Arias Proposes Constitutional Reform

Following in the footsteps of leftist presidents throughout Latin America that he has criticized, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias is proposing a constitutional reform. However, his idea is being pitched from the other end of the political spectrum: in the language of promoting free markets and entrepreneurship.

Presently, Costa Rica ranks 50th – behind countries such as Cuba, the Czech Republic and Argentina – in the realm of human development, according to the United Nations.

In hopes that Costa Rica would creep up that list to sit comfortably among countries such as Spain, Canada and the Bahamas, outgoing Costa Rican President Oscar Arias this week proposed formation of a national constituent assembly to reform the nation’s constitution and “pave the way” to status as a developed nation.

To Arias, “excessive controls” on the executive branch impede “vital projects” from coming to fruition.

“Reforming this situation will be the great challenge of Costa Rica in the coming years,” he said to an audience at the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday night. “We cannot afford to continue tireless debate on the reforms our country needs….

A restricted state, bloated and unable to execute its decisions, violates the public interest just as much as a state that abuses its power.”

A constituent assembly would work to address excessive regulations, he said, promoting action and implementation over heightened control.

“To the extent that we remain a country of controllers, not entrepreneurs, I see it very difficult to reach our goals, whatever they are,” Arias said.

–Chrissie Long


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