On Sunday May 8th, the transfer of presidential power (traspaso) took place. Rodrigo Chaves assumed his position as the 49th president of Costa Rica. Chaves signed 3 decrees that day, one of them being the removal of the mask mandate!
Other decrees included the removal of mandatory vaccination of employees in the public sector and declaring a national emergency due to the hacking of the Ministry of Finance or “Hacienda”.
The new president has put his trust in the Costa Rican people to use logical measures in regards to Covid-19. Removing the mask mandate does not mean stopping the fight against Covid-19 but instead letting the people decide what works best for them. The use of masks and mandatory vaccination will now only be enforced for front line public health care workers.
Rodrigo Chaves also made mention of the additional decrees he hopes to put into place within the coming weeks. The new president plans on strong reforms in the financial management of the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE). He hopes that these reforms will result in a reduction in electricity rates.
Chaves also assured the Costa Rican people that they are working on the processing of decrees that would have the objective of reducing the prices of rice and agrochemicals. As well as decrees to lower costs in areas such as medicines and agricultural supplies.
During the traspaso, Rodrigo Chaves gave a speech to the people of Costa Rica. The following are a few excerpts that stood out and gave an overall feeling of his ideals and what he wants to accomplish during his time as president.
“The outrageous waiting lists of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, these waiting lists have subjected thousands of Costa Ricans, not only is it a systematic violation of the health system, but they are humiliating for the people for whom medical care means life or death”.
“I assure the LGBTIQ population that we are not going to go backwards in recognizing the rights that they have achieved throughout their struggles for equality and appreciation for diversity, struggles that I respect and that I guarantee will continue unscathed in their victories”
“To public officials I say that the responsibility of their positions bears the weight of giving the country the commitment and dedication to serve their fellow citizens and support them, but they know that abuse and exploitation will not be tolerated.”
Chaves also made mention of his opposition to environmental policies. He confirmed he will not ratify the Escazu Agreement which was put in place to protect environmental defenders.
Many dignitaries attended the event. Such as the King of Spain, the President of Colombia, the president of the Dominican Republic, the president of Panama, the president of Haiti, and the president of Morocco. As well as foreign ministers, vice presidents, ministers, vice ministers and deputies from El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba, Japan, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Mexico, Canada, the United States, Ecuador and Peru were present. Even the first indigenous cacique women of Costa Rica attended the event alongside representatives of the Costa Rican indigenous ethnic groups.
Chaves has a long road ahead of him taking over an economy that is currently in decline and rising with foreign debt. Hopefully his strategy with decrees will be beneficial and effective.
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