Costa Rica at a glance: top news from the past week

May 21, 2018

Newly inaugurated Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado is closing in on two weeks on the job. Here are some of the major government developments from the past seven days, his first full week in office.

The Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) announced its position regarding the Inter American Court of Human Rights’ ruling

In response to a January ruling from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the TSE announced that Costa Ricans can now change the name on their government issued ID cards to fit their “self-perceived gender,” setting off a chain reaction of jubilation and backlash. The decision allows a person whose name assigned at birth does not fit his or her desired gender identity to request a name change directly with the TSE, rather than going through the court system, as is required for citizens who wish to change their legal names for any other reason. Read more in our story.

The Security Ministry has been carrying out ‘mega-operations’

New Public Security Minister Michael Soto kicked off his time in office by carrying out large-scale police interventions throughout the country to address crime hotspots. According to Diario Extra, the minister plans to implement one to three interventions per week based on crime statistics in various parts of the country.

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs resigns after 24 hours 

The new Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolina Fernández resigned from her position just 24 hours after she was sworn in, according to Delfino.cr. This took place after the news site CRHoy reported that she was sanctioned in 2011 by René Castro, the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, for “abandoning her post” when she was in charge of business affairs for Costa Rica in Brazil.

Luis Salazar named commissioner for LGBTQ population

President Alvarado swore in lawyer Luis Salazar as the commissioner for the attention of the LGBTQ population. According to La República, his position consists of creating a national policy for a discrimination-free society inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Vice ministers of health, labor and culture take office

Most vice minister posts were still vacant on Inauguration Day following an unusually short one-month presidential transition (a new administration has three months to prepare when voters make a decision in the first electoral round, but only one month if the campaign continues into a two-person runoff). During the past week, President Alvarado swore in the vice ministers of health, labor, and culture. According to CRHoy, the Public Health Vice Minister is Alejandra Acuña, who previously worked as coordinator of the National Council for the Treatment of HIV; Labor Vice Minister Juan Alfaro is a lawyer; and Culture Vice Ministers Max Valverde and Dennis Portuguez returned to the positions they held in the past administration.

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