Claiming that he does not want to interfere with the campaign that supports the approval of the Central America-Dominican Republic-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), Vice-President and Minister of Planning Kevin Casas resigned to both posts. The attorney, 39, submitted his letter of resignation to President Oscar Arias and states that his decision is based on the negative effects of a memo he and Congressman Fernando Sanchez submitted to Dr. Arias, on which they recommended actions to promote the YES. The document became public and was immediately rejected by a majority of the people, because it contained recommendations such as “instilling fear” among voters in order to make them support the YES in the referendum. “I will go back to my family, my books, and my ideals of all times, which do not need the pains of politics to be made true,” Casas said.
Virtual YES-NO tie
The most recent poll by UNIMER for the daily La Nación found that the YES is supported by 49.1 percent of the registered voters who have definitely made up their minds and will cast their ballots in the October 7th referendum on the CAFTA. Support for the NO has now increased to 46.3 percent. Because there is a 3.4 percent margin of error in the survey, analysts consider that, currently, there is a virtual tie. The new data corresponds to September. In August, the YES support was 56 percent and the NO one 36 percent. The survey also found that the number of registered voters who have made up their mind to cast their ballots is increasing, and that among the new ones the NO surpasses the YES 3 to 1.
Half of the people in the UNIMER survey quoted above feel that if the CAFTA were rejected in the October 7th referendum, neither them nor their families would be affected by such decision. Also, 13 percent of them believe that they will benefit if the NO wins, while 17 percent feel that they will be affected by such decision. An additional 18 percent abstained from responding or failed to respond.
President urges people to vote
In a television address, President Oscar Arias invited Costa Ricans to vote on the CAFTA referendum, next October 7. However, contrary to what he had done before, this time he did not state support for the YES. Using metaphors, President Arias analyzed his 16 months in office and stated that Costa Rica must stand up to current challenges, in order to resume the development that has been a feature in this nation in its 186 years of independence.
Transparency International pointed out that Costa Rica is among the nations who have made more improvement in the struggle against corruption in 2007. In the world ranking, it went from 4.1 to 5 –10 is the no-corruption level– and from position 55 to 46. According to the international organization, this nation can be a good example of how having autonomous and respected institutions is a major asset against corruption. A few years ago, the country had experienced a drop in the world ranking, but the independence and performance of the judiciary has helped enhance the image of the Government and of politicians, according to Transparency International.
The Civil Aviation Technical Council will fine Alterra Partners for at least $10 million as a result of the firm’s delays in delivering the building work it is in charge of at Juan Santamaria International Airport. The works include a new control tower, the paving of the taxiing strip, and others. Also, the penalty springs from the fact that Alterra Partners halted improvements at the country’s main air terminal for 33 months. A spokesperson for Alterra said they will wait until they are officially notified of the fines to establish whether the delays can be blamed on the firm or not.
$80,000 for the environment
The Costa Rican initiative Peace with Nature will receive in November an $80,000 donation from the United Kingdom. Peace with Nature is a project aimed at making of Costa Rica the world leader in the preservation of the environment and, in order to do so, it is establishing national and international guidelines to mitigate global warming.
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