San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Former president launches initiative to find a new ‘vision’ for Costa Rica

It wasn’t the official kickoff of an election campaign by a former president as reporters had anticipated Monday morning at Heredia’s National Biodiversity Institute north of the capital.

Instead, some 250 Costa Ricans at a lakeside auditorium heard former Costa Rican President José María Figueres unveil a new civil-society initiative to “move the country forward.”

“La Vía Costarricense” (“The Costa Rican Way”) aims to become a broad social movement and “catalyst for innovative ideas” to help correct Costa Rica’s “stagnation” and overcome challenges highlighted by a 2011 State of the Nation report, Figueres said.

“An assessment of [Costa Rica’s] problems already exists; we want new ideas from Costa Ricans starting today,” added Figueres, who served as Costa Rica’s youngest president from 1994-1998.

Many analysts are speculating that the former president – who lived in self-imposed exile in Europe for more than a decade – again will seek the presidency in 2014, although he brushed off questions about his possible political aspirations.

“I’m not thinking about that right now. This is not the time to talk about that,” Figueres said, referring to a possible run for the Casa Presidencial. “The country has enough to deal with in the current political climate. [Announcing a candidacy] wouldn’t solve any problems.”

Instead, Figueres focused on La Vía Costarricense and the experience of its nine board members who will help guide a national debate on issues like development, education, employment and green technology. Board members include a broad range of specialists, including a teacher, a banker, an agronomist, an economist and a security expert whose father worked closely with Figueres’ father, José “Don Pepe” Figueres, considered the grandfather of Costa Rican democracy.

Costa Ricans wishing to participate in the initiative can visit the website, where they are invited to share innovative ideas to help “restart” the country.

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Ex-President José María Figueres’ new initiative:

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