Si se puede! Si se pudo!

Luis Guillermo Solis Rivera President of Costa Rica
Luis Guillermo Solis Rivera President of Costa Rica
Yesterday, the eighth of May, Luis Guillermo Solis Rivera was installed as President of Costa Rica.
‘Si se puede’ – a chant of football fans in Costa Rica – became the slogan of the candidate that rose from nowhere to challenge and overthrow the then ruling party…’you can do it’ and the national stadium, where the official transfer of powers took place, resounded to the counterpart…’si se pudo’ – ‘and you have’… as the President elect entered the arena with his companion and his family.
As always in Costa Rica the ceremony was low key and had its unrehearsed moments….which is one of the reasons I like the country so much….as well as the usual youth choirs and orchestras and the singing of the national anthem.
The Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Jose was miffed that he had not been asked to officiate and conservative opinion was outraged that the new tourism minister was accompanied by his male partner…the times are indeed a’ changing.

And they need to.

Solis sees the task of governing Costa Rica as being the equivalent of taking over a farm that has been abandoned for years…fertile soil supporting parasitic plants….
He has to rebuild not only the institutions of the country, but also public confidence in those institutions and he faces an uphill task.

People expect changes…and have short memories….

The party that lost the elections have the greatest number of deputies in the National Assembly…

Institutions left to their own devices for years resent the arrival of new brooms….

The outgoing government installed supporters in key positions before leaving office…..

It’s not going to be easy.

I’ve always been interested in politics – the buggers are spending my money after all – and know just how regularly good intentions get bogged down by the sheer immobility of the government machine, let alone outside interference…but I hope that this Costa Rican spring brings forth the summer of good governance that the people here deserve.

And I can’t resist putting up another photograph from the handover of powers yesterday…. the new president and his old dad….a shoemaker.
It’s a good omen…historically it was the shoemakers who fought for civil and workplace rights in Costa Rica so it is – dare I say – fitting that it is one of their sons, descended from the Chinese and Jamaican labourers brought in to build the railways and cut the sugar cane, who is today President of Costa Rica.

Father and son... photograph from La Nacion
Father and son…
photograph from La Nacion


25 thoughts on “Si se puede! Si se pudo!”

  1. That does sound like a good omen that his dad reflects the shoemakers who fought for civil and workplace rights in Costa Rica. I hope the new President manages to shake up the sluggish bureaucracy.

    1. They are not exactly Speedy Gonzales…but they beat their French counterparts hands down.
      When I was last in the environment ministry the chap on the desk told me who was in charge of my dossier and gave me his telephone number.
      ‘But he never answers his ‘phone’ I replied at which point he went off and came beck five minutes later with the reply and appointment that I needed.

      The problem is the people put in by the outgoing government…they’ll slow down any and every project he comes up with… and when he then decides to issue decrees to get things moving they’ll present him as a dictator…

  2. It will be interesting to watch. People here actually love Solis, and I find myself responding what I’m perceiving as the honesty of a humble man, who just happens to be pretty intelligent. I hope he is saavy as well and surrounds himself with those who can maneuver as necessary to move things forward.

    1. I just hope that he is up for the dirty tricks that will be played…and not only from inside Costa Rica….did you see that the chap he has put in charge of what might be termed Costa Rica’s security service is going to look into how exactly the free trade treaty was passed?
      Some dustbin lids might be about to be raised…

  3. I hope he is a strong and sensible man. It will be a tough road and it will take all his will to walk the center while tending to the left and right. A mayor of thirty years was replaced down the road from me. I had to meet with two employees on business; one old, one new. The old one and I mentioned that for some employees who were let go, it had been their whole career. The new fellow was so young I wondered if he was twelve. I wish them well, and Solis–godspeed.

    1. He was in part responsible for the Esquipulas II Accords in the late eighties which aimed to return Central America to democracy – and for which Oscar Arias was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
      He’s nobody’s fool….but he’ll need all the help that he can get.

  4. That last photo is so touching, Helen. Solis sounds like an honest and clear-sighted man, but seeing what needs to be done to clean the Augean stables he has inherited doesn’t mean there’ll be the men and shovels and sheer will for the cleaning to happen. I wish him well.

    1. It touched me too….the love is so clear.
      The ordinary, not very political people voted for Solis: but they aren’t the people who need turning round to get Costa Rica working again and I hope that they will have the patience to let him get on with what will be a slow and difficult job.

  5. Makes me recall the joy when New Labour first came into power. Hope Costa Rica makes a better job of things than the UK did. They have an advantage in that they don’t have Tony Blair.

  6. I hope he can manage to achieve at least something of his plans –no doubt, sadly, there will be booby traps aplenty.
    Thought the photo was very touching.
    [can comment again; was having issues]

    1. I see you too have a woodpecker! Luckily less of a nuisance than ours proved to be!
      Yes, there will indeed be obstacles in his path….but I hope that people will be patient.

  7. I hope for the sake of the people of Costa Rica the new president is able to turn the hope for change into a reality. The picture of the president with his father is very touching.

    1. Over the last two Presidential terms ~Costa Ricans have seen a decline in public services and a growing gulf between the rich and the rest…not to speak of the drug trafficking problem….I just hope people will be patient because this chap will have to move mountains….

  8. Hello Helen,

    This is a message that we all can take courage from. One does not doubt for a second that the way forward for the new president will be easy but here at least is a man who is going to give it his best shot. The last photograph is incredibly touching. One does hope that this will be a dream come true.

    1. It seems that the newspapers were assailed by people wanting that moment of the ceremony to be featured….so very moving.

      Yes, he will give it his best shot, I am sure….but he will need all the support he can get.
      There are so many traps laid under his feet….I hope that people will be patient enough to give him time.

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