Tuesday 6 June 2023

Leonardo Garnier to women who denounced Oscar Arias: “I believe them”

"In cases as serious as these, we are all forced to put the possible victims in the first place." Arias' former Minister of Education said on his personal Facebook page

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Leonardo Garnier became the second former minister of an Oscar Arias government to publicly refer to the accusations against the former president of alleged sexual attacks against several women.

“In cases as serious as these, we are all forced to put the possible victims in the first place.” Leonardo Garmier (left), Arias’ former Minister of Education said on his personal Facebook page.

Garnier, who was Minister of Education in the Arias administration of 2006-2010 (and in the Laura Chinchilla administration of 2010-2014), published an extensive commentary on his personal Facebook page, which, quickly went viral in social networks.

The former minister said it was “sad to see a person linked to the development of the country and peace in the region linked to such serious accusations.”

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He expressed his gratitude to Arias for having trusted him to work in the public service, however, his position is much stronger in favor of the victims.

María Luisa Avila, former Minister of Health in the Arias 2010-2016 administration, since Monday, February 5,  published 2 tweets in which she asked: “not to delegitimize the alleged victims and urged to provide them with all the necessary support.”

Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado and former president Laura Chinchilla have asked for the respect of the victims and the right of Arias to a defense.

Garnier’s Facebook post:


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The translated (by Facebook) text:

For those who have worked near Don Oscar Arias, this week’s events are painful. It is sad to see a person who has made such important contributions to national development and regional peace, involved in the acts that are accused. But it is much sadder, for the women affected, to think that the accusations can be real. They are tremendously serious accusations of facts that cannot be foregone or excused in any way.

Of course it will be the courts who dictate justice and Don Oscar, like any person, has the right to his self-defense. But regardless of who the accused is, in cases as serious as these, we are all forced to put the possible victims in the first place. In our society, it is not easy for a woman to dare to raise a complaint for harassment or rape and, much less, when the accused is a powerful man. For that reason, victims must be heard and protected; their accusations must be treated with the greatest seriousness and be addressed and resolved diligently by justice.

This is not a minor theme. Some people minimize these accusations: they say it’s not a big thing, which is like a compliment or a caress, which is normal. And No, it’s not. Said otherwise: that what was normal, it is no longer; and even when it was seen as normal, that doesn’t mean it was okay. Women do not have to live constantly threatened by harassment or sexual assault. Men have to understand, finally, something that should be very simple: No, it’s not. Point.

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Personally, this situation faces a moral dilemma. On the one hand, I have a deep thank you with Don Oscar so much for his ability to take and boost decisions that have been crucial to this country, as by the fact much more punctual – but very meaningful to me in the personal – of the opportunities that Provided to occupy important positions in the public function. On the other hand, there are the insults reported by a growing number women – although one would suffice. Gratitude would push me to keep quiet, but I wouldn’t feel good about myself. My wife and my daughters wouldn’t understand that silence either. I wouldn’t feel doing the right thing. That is why, with the difficult and painful that I find, today I have to say to women who have denounced these aggressions, which I believe.

Leonardo Garnier


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