Former Costa Rican President José María Figueres is back in Costa Rica after seven years of self-exile in Europe. Figueres landed at Juan Santamaría International Airport Thursday at 8:30 a.m. on a flight from Panama.
Figueres denied any intentions to run for president during a press conference Thursday afternoon, nor did he say whether he planned to became a permanent resident of the country. Figueres explained he would stay in the country until Jan. 6 or 7, when he has to return to Madrid for a “busy international agenda.”
The press event took place at his mother’s house in Curridabat. Figueres’ son and daughter also accompanied the ex-president. Despite his international responsibilities, Figueres announced his intentions to return to Costa Rican politics, and that he would try to come back to the country more regularly in order to assist the National Liberation Party, the ruling party.
“I want to go back to politics, but a type of politics that starts with a capital “P,” the type of politics that shows the way that the country should be going forward for future generations,” Figueres said. “It is not my will to go back to the type of politics that involve elections.”
Figueres announced three weeks ago during an interview with Channel 7 Telenoticias’ Ignacio Santos that he was thinking about returning, and said he missed the Costa Rican holiday celebrations. He talked about coming back “soon” but did not give an arrival date.
Figueres, son of Costa Rica’s most beloved president, José “Pepe” Figueres, was embroiled in scandal seven years ago for receiving a $900,000 payment for consulting services from French telecommunications company Alcatel, which at the time was involved in concession contract negotiations with the Costa Rican Electricity Institute.
During the press conference, Figueres insisted he had done nothing illegal. He said in 2004 he was never called from Spain by Chief Prosecutor Francisco Dall’Anese to come back to Costa Rica and give an explanation for his actions.
“If the Chief Prosecutor’s Office would have called me, I would have come back immediately,” Figueres said.
On Thursday, a Legislative Assembly commission asked to him to make a declaration about his actions during the scandal. Figueres did not confirm whether he would do so.
The former president said he has spoken with political figures like former presidents Oscar Arias and Luis Alberto Monge and San José Mayor Johnny Araya since Figueres’ return to Costa Rica.