Monday 20 March 2023

Rodrigo Chaves: “They threaten me with death every day” in Costa Rica

“It does not represent the Costa Rican idiosyncrasy. It's repulsive" says Oscar Arias

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18 March 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – During his tour of the Southern Zone this past weekend, the president of Costa Rica justified the need for the extensive security device that accompanies him and for which he has received criticism.

“There is more than one scoundrel who says ‘plata o plomo’ (money or a bullet),” said the President.

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One of the official videos was a message of condolences for the death of Jimarki Badilla Coto, the presidential escort who died during the tour in a traffic accident on the night of Saturday, February 18, driving the vehicle carrying vice-president Stephan Brunner.

While President Chaves gave his condolences, in the video, we can see security officials armed with a high-caliber rifle. The video also featured the Minister of the Presidency, Natalia Díaz, and other public officials.

In another video, on Monday, February 20, President Chaves appears walking on a pier accompanied by several escorts with assault rifles.

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The heavily armed security detail remained close to the president during the boat ride and walking along the beach.

On Tuesday, two-time former president Oscar Arias commented on the video, Tweeting: “It does not represent the Costa Rican idiosyncrasy. It’s repulsive.”

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“Never in Costa Rica have we seen such an act of bullying and militarism” was one of the many comments posted on social networks.

At a press conference Tuesday morning, Rodrigo Chaves, was questioned by journalists if there was any proven risk situation to warrant such deployment.

The president responded: “A proven risk, what is a proven risk? They threaten me with death every day. I am putting scanners (the ports) that are going to take billions of dollars of profit from drug trafficking.

“We are making difficult decisions, which the press often does not even report and distorts (…),” Chaves replied.

In the press conference, Chaves alluded to the security devices implemented by countries like the United States to protect high officials and stated that he and the people who make up his cabinet will continue to travel with escorts.

The president compared Vice President Stephan Brunner’s entourage to that of his US counterpart, Kamala Harris.

“She even travels with her own cars in the belly of an airplane. America is a rich country, yes. Costa Rica is the only country that I know of in Latin America and probably in the world that does not have a presidential plane. Am I complaining about that? No, I’m not complaining,” said the president.

Defending questions and comments online about official government caravans moving at high speed, seemingly recklessly, Chaves argued that the top executive branch officials have to move quickly because they have a very busy schedule.

In Costa Rica, we are used to running into the President in the supermarket.

A selfie with President Carlos Alvadaro (middle) while out shopping at the Automercado in Santa Ana. No security detail in sight.


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