Óscar Arias: Why I’m not running again for president of Costa Rica

September 20, 2016

In recent months I have evaluated the possibility of presenting my name for another presidential candidacy. I have met with the representatives of various political parties to discuss the challenges we face. Many people have offered their support, and have asked me to seek a third term. All the polls indicate that I have a strong chance of attaining the Presidency of the Republic once more.

Nothing can compare with obtaining the trust and affection of the people of Costa Rica. I would not exchange for anything the embraces of children nor the blessings of their mothers – not even considering the setbacks and insults that sometimes follow, because the threads of fortune and difficulty have both woven the fabric of my destiny. And destiny has been generous with me.

You have always been the motivation for my struggles, the wind in the sails. To you I have dedicated more than 45 years of my life. Alongside you I have experienced the happiest days of my career, and I have felt rewarded for my efforts.

I have always believed that politics is one of the most noble pursuits of humanity. I refer to politics of quality – that which exists to build, to convince, to advance, and not to destroy, attack or create obstacles.

That is why I will never regret dedicating my life to public service. It allows us to transform this country: during our first administration, through the signing of the Central American Peace Accords; and during our second administration, with our country’s greater insertion into the international economy and the approval of the International Arms Trade Treaty, which is the greatest contribution to humanity that Costa Rica has made in all of its history.

That is the politics in which I believe: ambitious and brave. The politics of hope. The politics that does not get distracted by petty matters, but that, rather, sets its sights on the most daring point on the horizon.

People have the right to dream! They have the right to think about the future with enthusiasm, and not with resignation; with joy, and not with despair.

Serving my people has been the greatest honor of my life. It would be an honor to return to the presidency and have the opportunity to inspire optimism once more.

But I am not the only person who can do that. A democracy is healthier when a new political generation is always being formed to take the place of the previous one. Our country urgently needs the renewal of its political leadership.

That is why, once more, I want to urge young people to enter public service. I was 31 when I served as Minister of National Planning. John F. Kennedy was 29 when he was elected to Congress. Mahatma Gandhi was 24 when he began his struggles.

Young people of Costa Rica: take your place in history! No one should be ashamed to aspire to political office.

On the contrary, it should be a place of pride for our country’s most brilliant minds, most honest souls and most compassionate spirits.

I will not run for the Presidency of the Republic for a third time, because I believe that it is my duty, as a leader, to encourage new leadership. I have served this country to the best of my ability from the presidential chair, and today I must serve my country by stepping away from that chair, giving an opportunity to those who will govern the Costa Rica of tomorrow.

No one person is indispensable in a democracy. What is indispensable is many people willing to work for this country we love so much.

I thank you once more for your affection and trust, and I assure you that I carry you always in my heart. I am so fortunate to have been the proud recipient of your generosity and your affection. I hope you will carry me in your thoughts, as I will carry you in mine until the last of my days.

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