August 23, 2019
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Costa Rican president rejects military option in Venezuela, Nicaragua

Douglas Marin

San Jose, May 23 (efe-epa).- Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado said in an interview Thursday with EFE that a military option has no place in discussions on how to resolve the political crises in Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Alvarado, who completed his first year in office on May 8, has invested much of his time pushing through a tax overhaul that Congress passed in December and bringing the crisis in Nicaragua - and its migratory implications for Costa Rica - to the attention of the international community.

Question: What consequences do the crises in Nicaragua and Venezuela entail for Latin America?

Answer: They undoubtedly affect Latin America because our countries are increasingly integrated. What happens in one country affects many factors in the others.

I want to be optimistic. I want to see the progress in Venezuela as the start of a path toward a democratic and institutional solution with free elections and with observation, unlike the last election, which is why we don't recognize Mr. (Nicolas) Maduro.

I'm optimistic about the route that's been embarked upon thanks to the work of different groups like the Lima Group and the (International) Contact Group. Costa Rica is not of the opinion that all options should be open. We don't think the military option should be an option in the 21st century. We believe that dialogue and democracy must prevail.

Q: And in the case of Nicaragua?

A: I also want to be optimistic because more and more voices are coming together for the release of political prisoners, for civil liberty, press and citizens' guarantees that have been flagrantly restricted.

We see it in Costa Rica because we receive part of that political migration of people suffering persecution, including distinguished journalists.

I think the regime must understand that it has no choice but to open itself up to institutional and democratic options, and that anything else is prolonging suffering, which is not (the suffering) of the regime but of the Nicaraguan people.

Q: Does a solution in Nicaragua require early elections?

A: Yes, and it requires all kinds of institutional guarantees. We can't have free elections when people or journalists are being jailed for their opinions, when there's no freedom of movement, when there's no voter registry that guarantees that the people's voice is heard, when there's fear.

Q: Has the OAS (Organization of American States) played an effective role in the crises in Nicaragua and Venezuela?

A: The OAS has played an important role, but it hasn't been enough. It's raised its voice. It's made accusations, but we still haven't succeeded in getting to a democratic path via the established mechanisms.

Costa Rica will optimistically and obstinately insist on dialogue and a democratic path, because abandoning that path and thinking that another option is open could lead to greater violence.

Q: Do you think dictatorships exist in Venezuela and Nicaragua and that the human rights violations denounced by the international community should be heard in international tribunals?

A: They're not democratic regimes, nor ones with institutional guarantees. The priority should be to re-establish constitutional frameworks because they are the guarantees for the citizenry.

Eventual responsibilities is something that must be looked at where appropriate, but it must be understood that often times in these cases part of what you're trying to resolve is whether these types of (judicial) proceedings existed. That's why the first thing is the re-establishment of guarantees.

Q: You've said that Costa Rica was close to insolvency. How serious would the situation have been if it hadn't been resolved with the tax reform approved in December?

A: We could have suffered hyperinflation, a devaluation, a drastic increase in unemployment, poverty, massive layoffs, a loss in the real value of pensions.

This has happened in other countries and it didn't happen here. We were very close to that. We had delays in current payments. We very nearly fell, but we didn't. We carried out a fiscal reform and that's very important.

dmm/mc

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