San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

In State of Nation speech, Chinchilla admits errors, bad communication

Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla admitted her share of responsibility for the country’s current situation but immediately clarified that she has acted “honestly and with good intentions.”

Chinchilla’s State of the Nation address on Tuesday night highlighted specific accomplishments, such as the creation of 90,000 jobs in 2011, growth of foreign investment (by 40 percent), exports (12 percent) and the lowest inflation in the last 40 years (4.74 percent).

On security, Chinchilla said there have been positive indicators on crime, with statistics remaining level, but not decreasing. “We’ve been careful not to fall into repressive populism, and the country has the largest number of police officers in history. Now, 14,000 new cops are watching our streets,” she said.

As for the crisis in the Social Security System (Caja), the president said her government has faced the issue with responsibility, and she blamed the situation on previous administrations.

She also highlighted that during the first half of her term, the budget for education reached 7 percent of gross domestic product, and the scholarship program “Avanzamos” reached 185,000 students from public schools. 

On the economy, Chinchilla said her administration has mitigated the consequences of the global economic crisis, and the local economy showed 4 percent growth despite the challenges. But on her administration’s failed fiscal plan, the president acknowledge the country’s deficit is looming. She highlighted government efforts to improve tax collection. 

For more than 75 minutes, Chinchilla listed several other accomplishments in the areas of social security and the environment.

She also addressed a series of recent polls that showed poor approval ratings – including one survey that placed her as the least-popular president in the Americas – by asking “lawmakers and judges to be more constructive” in their efforts. “They know they have failed to communicate to the nation their accomplishments,” she said, referring to members of other government branches.

At the close of her speech, the president announced the creation of a group of “notables,” who will make recommendations for improving the country’s democratic system and its governance, but she did not say when members would be announced.

Read more on President Chinchilla’s speech in this week’s edition of The Tico Times.

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