Costa Rica elects first woman president


Costa Rica has elected its first ever woman president, Laura Chinchilla, who received 47% of the votes from Sunday’s election.

Fifty year old Chinchilla is a member of the National Liberation Party (PLN) and beat her two main rivals, Otton Solis and Otto Guevara to win the election. She has previously served as vice-president under her predecessor Oscar Arias, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987.

A social conservative, Chinchilla is against gay marriage and abortion. In her acceptance speech, she said: “I have been handed a mandate to fight criminals and drug traffickers with firmness and intelligence.”

She went on to thank: “those who shepherded through the cause of equal opportunities for women…and opened up spaces for women in the government; those who today work double and triple shifts, dream much and sleep little, as mothers, as wives, as workers, continuing to overcome barriers and creating a grander Costa Rica.”

Costa Rica – meaning ‘Rich Coast’ – is very pro-environment and it is expected that Chinchilla will continue the country’s environmental and free trade work. With no army, Costa Rica has enjoyed many decades of political stability and the country was ranked 1st in the 2009 ‘Happy Planet Index’ by the New Economics Foundation, in terms of its people living long and fulfilling lives.

Chinchilla will join two other Latin America female leaders – both Chile and Argentina currently have woman leaders. She will take office on 8 May 2010.

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