Friday 29 September 2023

A King and Two Presidents

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29 September 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

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TODAY COSTA RICA – The weekend (May 7 and 8, 2022) was very busy in Costa Rica. And I was fortunate enough to get some good photographs.

On Saturday morning, May 7, 2022, the King of Spain arrived. His Majesty King Philip VI arrived on the royal jet at San José International Airport. He had come to Costa Rica to participate in the inauguration of a new president.

King Philip VI of Spain (with the blue tie) and President Carlos Alvarado (on his left) meet with the press in front of Casa Amarilla.

Later that morning he was officially welcomed by President Carlos Alvarado in one of the last official acts of his presidency. The meeting took place at Casa Amarilla, the country’s foreign ministry in Barrio Amon in San José.

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Then on Sunday morning, May 8th, the new president was inaugurated.

It should always be remembered that the peaceful transfer of power is a rare, and precious event in human history. Last Sunday, Rodrigo Chaves became the new President of the Republic of Costa Rica, and Carlos Alvarado stepped down. There were no tanks in the streets. There were no lives lost. There were no political opponents jailed. It was an event worthy of a royal visit.

President Chavez shakes this reporter’s hand while posing for a selfie. He welcomed me and other visitors in the crowd to Costa Rica.

After the inauguration ceremonies on Sunday morning, the new president met with his staff and cabinet members at one of the theaters inside the Ministry of Culture and Youth complex in San José.

As this first meeting of the new government took place, a group of well-wishers waited outside. The crowd was behind a barricade in Spanish Park as scores of police and security personnel kept a close eye on it. Most everyone was well behaved. However, one very loud street person was politely, but firmly, asked to leave.

The King of Spain arrives at Casa Amarilla for a meeting with President Alvarado on Saturday, May 7. This was one of President Alvarado’s last official duties.

When the new president’s meeting broke up, the staff members filed out and got aboard vehicles to leave. One of those vehicles was a brand new bus with a sign that said it was 100% electric and that it was a donation from the government of Germany.

When President Chaves walked out of the meeting he heard the cheers of the crowd. Much to the thrill of the crowd of well-wishers, he walked over and shook a lot of hands. Many people crowded around him for photos and selfies.

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He took my hand and I said to him, “Viva Costa Rica y viva Los Estados Unidos.” The President nodded in agreement, and without a moment’s hesitation he spoke to me in perfect English. He asked where I was from, and he welcomed me to Costa Rica. Other non-Costa Ricans in the crowd then told him where they were from; one was from Palm Springs, California, another from Paris, France and more.

A new bus that is 100% electric brought the new President and many of his staff members to the Ministry of Culture and Youth. The sign above the driver says that the bus was a donation from the government of Germany.

President Chaves spoke comfortably with most everyone in the group, including several squealing women who pressed close to him to get their pictures taken. Then at the request of his security detail, the President said goodbye and walked back to the electric bus. He boarded the bus with many of his staff people. And off they went.

After the meeting with his new government, President Chavez walked across the street to shake hands with well-wishers. His security detail watches carefully.

The peaceful transfer of power may seem normal to those of us from North America. It is not normal. Costa Rica has been blessed with this tradition since its civil war in the 1940s. Many other countries in the region still haven’t figured out how to do it. That is part of what makes Costa Rica, with its rich history and its unique culture, such a great place to live.

Michael Miller is the author of the guidebook for Downtown San José titled: The Real San José. He is also the author of the exciting new novel, Tribune Man. You can find his Amazon Author Page by clicking here:

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Michael Miller
Michael Robert Miller, with over forty years of business experience, has travelled extensively in the Far East and Central America. He has been visiting San José, Costa Rica since the 1980's and has made it his mission to discover all that the city has to offer. Mr. Miller has served in the United States Navy and is a Vietnam Veteran. He holds a degree in economics. Mr. Miller currently spends his time in San José, Costa Rica and Naples, Florida.

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