San Jose, Costa Rica
Costa Rica's President-elect, Luis Alberto Monge, exhorted the country to work together to break the nation's economic crisis after he won almost 60 percent of the votes cast in a Feb. 7 election, Monitor contributor Jean Hopfensperger reports.
His swearing-in ceremony May 8 will mark Costa Rica's ninth consecutive peaceful transition of power - the best record in Central America.
''My great goal is to demonstrate that the democratic system can resolve the problems of poverty and misery,'' Mr. Monge announced on election night. But he faces many challenges, such as a $2.6 billion foreign debt, 13 percent unemployment, and soaring inflation. Monge's economic recovery program is a plan called ''return to the land,'' designed to boost the nation's agricultural production. It will provide credits to agribusiness and promote development of new crops.
The President-elect has vowed to remain neutral in Central American conflicts and wants to maintain friendly relations with the United States, which he hopes will open its purse strings to his needy nation.