Date: Sun, 17 May 98 11:13:04 CDT
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New Costa Rican President Takes Office
Cent-Am News, Issue X, no. 1, week of 24-30 May 1998
On May 8, 58-year-old lawyer and economist Miguel Angel Rodriguez assumed the presidency of Costa Rica, replacing former president Rafael Angel Calderon. He will serve through 2002.
Rodriguez has two vice presidents, Astrid Fischel, who will also be Minister of Culture, and Elizabeth Odio, who will be Minister of the Environment. The new president has already named 15 ministers, many of whom served under the previous administration. The Foreign Trade, Economy, and Science and Technology Ministries have been combined to form one so-called Super-Ministry, under the direction of businessman Samuel Guzowski.
As part of his inauguration, Rodriguez stated his four goals: a 6 per cent economic growth, inflation less than 5 per cent, lower the rate of poverty to 17 per cent and lower the unemployment rate to less than 5 per cent. He staunchly defended a market economy. The same day as his inauguration, Rodriguez met with Enrique Iglesias, president of the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), and representatives of two airlines, KLM and British Airways, announced their companies would soon have flights to Costa Rica.
Rodriguez said he plans to open the country up to more trade and privatize many state-run institutions. He plans to sell the two government-run banks, and the national liquor production plant. He also plans to privatize the social security system and the telephone company, with the aim of reducing the internal debt. The unions for the electric power workers and social security workers voiced their opposition to the privatization, and said they will pressure for passage of a law to strengthen these institutions in the hands of the State. (Agency Informativa Pulsar, 5/8, 13/98; La Nacion, Costa Rica, 5/9, 10/98; La Prensa on the Web from AFP, San Pedro Sula, 5/9/98)
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