Former president’s trial coming to a close
Monday marks a possible end to a five-year ordeal for one of Costa Rica´s leading families – a time during which a former president served a five-month prison sentence, a major political party bordered on disintegration and a trial with 150-witnesses lasted 11 months at a San José courthouse.
On Monday, former President Rafael Angel Calderón will know whether he will be absolved of corruption charges or found guilty, facing a fine of up to $89 million and 24 years in prison.
“This is a fundamental moment in Costa Rica´s history,” said political analyst and former editor of the daily La Nación Eduardo Ulibarri. “While I don´t want to embellish its significance, it can´t be negated, either. It´s been a dramatic and polarizing case, and the judges will have to present a decision.”
Yet, the ruling goes deeper than a judgment between right and wrong. Riding on the back of the ruling are a slew of political interests – all deeply invested in one side or the other of the outcome.
For Calderón supporters, the trial strayed long ago from one aimed at finding justice and has turned into a political battlefield.
“This trial has had a high level of political content and, more than looking for the real and objective truth in the Caja-Fischel case, they´ve looked to hurt Calderón, as a political figure, and his party,” said Luis Fishman, president of the Social Christian Unity Party ( La Unidad ), Calderón´s party (TT, July 24).
Following Calderón´s arrest, Unity ceased to play a dominant political role, losing 14 seats in the Legislative Assembly in the 2006 elections.
As a result, the rival National Liberation Party added to its ranks, and smaller parties found themselves becoming a much more significant part of the political scene.
“It will be interesting to see what happens in February if Calderón gets a not guilty verdict,” said Mariela Castro, a social science professor at the University of Costa Rica.
You may be interested
Buchón cantina: Spritz cocktails to dine forNatalia Díaz - October 18, 2018
Buchón was the first place I tasted the Aperol Spritz, months before it became fashionable around San José. In fact,…
Tico Times Shade: What does ‘middle class’ mean in Costa Rica?Alejandro Zúñiga - October 18, 2018
It’s not often The Tico Times writes an explainer about basic Costa Rican daily living that’s equally surprising to a…
Costa Rica grants asylum to Nicaraguan activist Alvaro LeivaAFP - October 18, 2018
Costa Rica granted the Nicaraguan human rights activist Alvaro Leiva political asylum last week. Leiva is the secretary of the…