Luis Guillermo Solís was voted in by Costa Ricans to bring change. And changes could be noted during yesterday’s inauguration ceremony, most notably, the absence of the traditional prayer and for the first time, a homosexual minister marched with his partner.
These are different times. And the 2014 handing over of power could be said was unlike any other in the past.
This event was frugal, just the way Solís had said it would be and wanted. Held at the national stadium with a capacity of 35.000, Costa Ricans came, but less than expected. The head count was around 20.000. Many, it apperas, preferred to keep their tickets (free) as a memory.
Outgoing Laura Chinchilla decided not to take part in the “pasarela” (march). She saved herself of the whistles and boos that were waiting for her. The proof of that was the soft whistles and boos when Luis Guillermo mentioned her name in his speech.
Missing from the ceremony were former presidents Luis Monge Álvarez (1982-1986), Miguel Angel Calderón (1990-1994), José María Figueres (1994-1998), Abel Pacheco (2002-2006) and Oscar Arias (1986-1990 and 2006-2010).
The only presdients taking part in the ceremony were from: Ecuador, Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. Salvador’s president-elect, Salvador Sánchez Cerén and Panama’s Ricardo Martinelli, cancelled last minute.
The presence of Moisés Omar Halleslevens, Nicaragua’s vice-president and General of the Army, was not announced to the public. Venezuela’s vice-president, Jorge Arreaza, was announced as an invited guest, but few knew that the woman with him was Rosa Virigina, a daugther of the late Hugo Chavez.
The Prince of Asturias, Felipe de Borbón, got a raging applause.
The new minister of Tourism and president of the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT), Wilhelm von Breymann, was accompanied by his same-sex partner of 19 years, Mauricio Alfaro. “Yes, I gave thought to what it would mean to parade with him and I think that is my life, but is also part of the change,” the minister told the press.
The Archbishop of San José, José Rafael Quirós, later said he would have preferred that prayer had been included in the ceremonial agenda. “The Catholic Church has always been present at the time of prayer; called for in the Constitution”, said Quirós.
There was prayer in the ceremony, but at the end of his Solis’ speech: “I ask the eternal God, creator of all things, Lord of Lords, to bless Costa Rica and her people and their rulers…”.
While dad was giving his speech, eight year old Inés, without reservations tested the comfort of the presidential chair.
Solís read a passage of a letter his deceased mother, Vivienne Rivera, wrote for her grandchildren. The president later hugged with great emotion his 89 year dad, Freddy.
At times, Luis Guillermo’s face was filled with such emotion that he could almost be seen holding back tears.
With a Bible in his left hand, Luis Guillermo Solís swore his oath before God and the Motherland, as mandated in the Constitution.
It was just a little over two hours since the ceremony began, when Solís, now as president, took to the soccer field to greet the people up close and quickly sought cover before the skies opened up and began a downpour over La Sabana.
The next edition is on May 8, 2018.