San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Merry Christmas! Costa Rican lawmakers give themselves a month and a half holiday vacation

Costa Rican lawmakers will go on vacation for 46 days from Dec. 23–Feb. 3, after a majority vote on the issue this week.

This year’s final session at the Legislative Assembly will take place on Dec. 19. Lawmakers will return to their offices on the Cuesta de Moras on Feb. 4, 2014, two days after the presidential – and legislative – elections.

A total of 38 lawmakers voted in favor of the long break, while 16 voted against it.

The lawmakers’ time off coincides with the most intense period of campaigning, and many of them will use the time to promote their political parties. Two lawmakers – José María Villalta from the Broad Front Party and Justo Orozco of the Costa Rican Renovation Party – also are campaigning for president.

Villalta, who voted against the extended holiday vacation, last weekend appeared in the top spot of a recent poll of likely voters and their preferences, conducted by the consulting firm Unimer for the daily La Nación.

Citizen Action Party (PAC) lawmakers also voted against the vacation time, a move that was praised by their party’s presidential candidate, Luis Guillermo Solís. Solís said it is imperative that legislators stick around to approve a list of urgent bills currently under debate.

Solís said in a press release that ruling National Liberation Party candidate Johnny Araya and Libertarian Movement Party candidate Otto Guevara were “responsible for the abusive legislative recess, as their parties’ lawmakers approved the long vacation period.”

PAC lawmakers will file a motion to move the IVF bill into first place on the Assembly’s agenda, saying it is their responsibility to vote on and approve the bill before leaving for the holidays.

They also said it is unfair to punish families who are waiting for an IVF law, which was ordered a year ago by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Earlier this week, a lawmaker representing victims’ families filed a criminal complaint against all 57 lawmakers for failing to implement the court order to legalize the procedure. 

On Wednesday, Public Security Minister Mario Zamora Cordero urged lawmakers to approve permission for United States vessels to dock in national territory, as part of a joint patrol agreement Costa Rica signed with that country.

The current permission is valid only through Dec. 31, meaning that if lawmakers do not approve docking permission before taking their recess, all maritime surveillance support from the U.S. will be suspended until February.

Since 2010, Costa Rican lawmakers have taken 110 days off, according to a report from the Legislative Assembly administrative office.

This period includes Easter Holy Week, mid-year vacations and the holidays in December and January.

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