San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

President-elect Chinchilla reconciles with the Left

Ten days after a mud-slinging campaign in which he criticized Laura Chinchilla, calling her a puppet of the current administration, Ottón Solís made amends and offered “unconditional support” to the president-elect on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters on the back patio of his eastern San José home on Wednesday morning, Solís said, “I want to emphasize our commitment to … encourage and to help Laura´s proposals that we consider important.”

Solís, the founder and three-time presidential candidate of the Citizen Action Party (PAC), trailed in second in the Feb. 7 elections behind Chinchilla, who is a member of President Oscar Arias´ centrist National Liberation Party (PLN).

Solís named increased health services, education and security as some of their shared priorities, committing PAC´s resources to the betterment of the country.

“There is a ‘p´ in this conversation,” he said. “But it´s not a ‘p´ for the PLN or ‘p´ for PAC, it´s the ‘p´ for país (country)…. This is a moment for Costa Rica.”

Solís spoke to reporters after a near two-hour conversation with his former opponent, Chinchilla, in his San Pedro home.

Chinchilla characterized the conversation as “productive” and “rich.” She said they touched on many issues, ranging from transparency to state support for small businesses to improved education.

One project that struck a chord between the two in particular was President Arias´ Avancemos (Let´s Progress) program, a scholarship-for-schoolchildren program that Chinchilla has pledged to build up.

She said Solís helped frame education not just as an expense, but as an investment, and encouraged her to look at security issues not only for immediate remedies, but also for solutions to the roots of the problem.

“Our challenge is to construct a better Costa Rica,” Chinchilla said, as she asked for support from her former opponent, Solís.

Chinchilla has already met with Otto Guevara of the Libertarian Movement and plans on holding conversations with other party leaders in the coming weeks.

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