San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

González: Fixing Costa Rica Begins With Good Family Values

For Mayra González, at the root of all problems facing Costa Rica is the loss of values. Poverty, insecurity and drug addiction, she says, all could be erased if the country would return to Christian principles.

The legislator and former mayor of Tibás, a municipality just north of San José, says she hopes to tackle – from the Casa Presidencial – what she perceives to be a moral deficit in the country. She will represent the Costa Rican Renovation Party, a social Christian political group, in the Feb. 7 presidential elections.

While polls show her with less than a percentage point (or don’t list her at all), González has renewed confidence in her candidacy due to a study released recently within her party. The study points to a high potential for success in bringing as many as 11 legislators to the Legislative Assembly (representation depends on votes received in the presidential election) and filling hundreds of elected positions at the municipal level.

González, 56, a lawyer and the divorced mother of two adult children, sat down with The Tico Times recently to describe life on the campaign trail, her proposals for change and her push to restore high moral standards in the Costa Rican populace.

TT: How do you feel about the campaign?

MG: Very good at the moment. Why? At a recent meeting with the party, we received the preliminary results of an internal study, done by a specialist (named) Luis Castro. The results brought us the great and nice surprise that, based on surveys of 1,200 people from different sectors in the country, we could have as many as 11 legislators (after the February election). This has given us great motivation to keep pushing forward.

We don’t have the millions of dollars it requires to come out in the national study.

We don’t want to pay that kind of money to show up as a percentage on a study of which the validity is not the reality. We prefer to do internal studies.

Even more than the 11 legislators (we could achieve in the next election), this study showed us the possibility of winning 280 municipal seats nationwide. This has brought us enthusiasm, a reason to continue to move forward and a reason to work harder and double our forces. Not only do we want to maintain those numbers, but we want to make them grow. We want to have an important presence in the 81 municipalities.

What makes your party different from other parties?

Ours is a young party with big ideals. Our first commitment is with God and, after that, with the Costa Rican people. The people who participate are ones of good moral standing. We have an enormous passion and a commitment to the most vulnerable class.  But also to the middle class, which has been heavily affected in this economic crisis and by the poor management of previous administrations.

We are a party with a foundation in Christianity. We are social Christians. Our principle beliefs are to return our focus to families, to return values to the Costa Rican people, to find again our ethics as a people, which have been lost.

How would you achieve this?

We have listened to other parties with their proposals and responses, but the reality is that, once they get into office, they forget them. Clearly we have solutions to the greatest problems facing our country. But … many of them we can’t explain fully in an interview like this. They can be found on our Web site:

In an eventual government of the Costa Rican Renovation Party, we will have capable people who can see these proposals through. But we are open to calling all men and women of good morals … even if they are from other parties … so they can help us resolve problems in an eventual government.

The Social Christian Unity Party is also a social Christian party. What’s the difference between you and them?

We are a social Christian party, but pure and true. The difference is that many years ago the Social Christian Unity Party separated from the values we hold as fundamental.

What do you believe are the greatest problems that the country faces?

Without a doubt, the most critical problem – the one that concerns us the most – is citizen safety. According to a recent study, there is not a home that has not suffered, a town that has not been touched (by the problem of crime). This problem needs to be declared a national emergency for the magnitude of people it has affected.

For the next administration, citizen safety is an issue that cannot be tackled alone. It needs to call out to all the people involved, no matter the political party, in order to confront the problem together in one complete program.

Another of the greatest problems that have become critical for the country is the lack of jobs. For this issue, we need to convene the institutions involved to achieve strategic solutions and agreements. This problem is affecting many homes. There isn’t work for young people or for adults over 40 years old. There aren’t opportunities, and this contributes to the rising rate of crime. For this reason it’s very important and sensible for it to be resolved, but in an integral way.

Why do you believe you are the best person to lead the country at this point in history?

We believe we are a true alternative. We are a party that is proposing real solutions. Others who have had the opportunity to resolve the problems have not been able to do it. We have parties that have participated in politics for decades … and, in resolving problems, they haven’t been able to do anything. As a result, people are very

disillusioned. There are many people who don’t want to vote because all they see is the same: the same proposals, the same people, the same way of speaking and of expressing oneself.

Costa Rica is one of the few countries in which Catholicism is the official religion. As a party that represents Christian interests, do you agree with the movement for a secular state?

The Costa Rican Renovation Party absolutely opposes the creation of a secular state. This goes counter to our Christian principles. We are not in favor of this bill because we understand that behind the effort to create a secular state is a series of projects that go against our customs. To give an example: abortion. Abortion advocates are looking to legalize abortion in our country, which is something our party firmly opposes.

We want to be respectful of other religions, but what we have seen is that the push for a secular state is driven by people who want to introduce legislation contrary to our morals. Costa Rica is a conservative country in which some people – thanks to God – have maintained good habits. In this effort to avoid a secular state, we have the support of not only the Catholics, but the Protestants, too.

After four years, what would be your vision for the country?

The first thing that we are asking of the people is to elect us and to give us the opportunity to realize all of the projects we have on our agenda, to achieve and to carry out these projects. These projects will advance the country socially, economically, judicially and in citizen security.

Personally, why is the struggle to return morals to the Costa Rican people a

principle issue for you?

All the candidates are talking about the problems facing our country. None of them has been in the position to question or analyze the origin of all these problems. To me, the origin of the problems in Costa Rica is the loss of family values. What we need to do is to reinforce the family, making it integrated and united. As a result, we will have studious kids, children with good habits and more overall happiness.

The problems arise when you have disintegrated families, with parents working 12 hours a day and with kids abandoned in the streets. Some of them sell things to get buy. Later, those things might be drugs.

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