San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Chinchilla endures third minister resignation since February

Marco Vargas quit Monday as Laura Chinchilla’s minister of the presidency of the ministry, after several weeks of silence since he first hinted at his exit March 16.

Vargas, who has been in charge of six ministries in the last 17 years, explained his move as part self-assessment of his achievements during Chinchilla’s government.

His resignation caused several moves inside the executive branch. Carlos Ricardo Benavides left the Tourism Ministry to take over for Vargas. Benavides will remain minister of sports.

Allan Flores will be the new minister of tourism, a role he also assumed during Oscar Arias’s second presidency (2006-2010).

“The president honored me when she assigned me to the most important ministry in regards to political leadership,” said Vargas on a press release. “I took on the responsibility under difficult political circumstances and I did my best, however it was not enough from my own perspective.”

Chinchilla accepted Vargas resignation and praised his job in the last 11 months. She said Vargas is an example of hard work and honesty.

“His management style kept him away from public exposure, while he focused on dealing with his tasks in an effective way,” said Chinchilla.

In less than a year, three ministers have already quit on Chinchilla’s government. The first was Giselle Goyenaga stepped down from the Ministry of Sports on February 8, after being embroiled in several scandals and with the media questioning her professional experience.

Days later on February 11, Clotilde Fonseca, the science and technology minister, resigned for “personal reasons.”

Several congressmen celebrated Vargas exit and assured he should have taken this decisions several month ago, since he was lacking negotiations skills to reach agreements. The minister of the presidency is usually in charge of dealing with opposing political parties in congress

“Vargas was a defective minister who seemed to be tired,” said Walter Céspedes, congressmen for the Social Christian Unity Party. “He does not have the artistry of leadership.”

Broad Front Party congressman Jose María Villalta labeled Vargas as a worn-out minister unable to establish effective communication channels.

“No chemistry ever emerged between lawmakers and Vargas. I think his image had become questionable as a result of his relationship with former president [Oscar] Arias, however even if Superman is assigned to continue Vargas role, Chinchilla’s government is not looking to improve dialog and communication,” said Villalta.

The new minister of presidency is a close collaborator of the National Liberation Party (PLN). Born in Puntarenas, Benavides was a congressman for PLN from 2002 to 2006. During the Oscar Arias government, he was assigned to run the Tourism Ministry. He was part of the campaign team that led Chinchilla to win the national election in 2010. Benavides holds a degree in public law.

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