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The Man That is Oscar Arias Sanchez

Oscar Arias Sanchez is the current president of the country of Costa Rica. He first assumed office on May 8, 2006 and is currently serving his second term. He had first been elected president on May 8, 1986 and served until May 8, 1990.

President Arias is best known as one of the driving figures behind the end of the Central American civil wars during the 1980s. For his efforts, Oscar Arias Sanchez received the Nobel Peace Price in 1987.

Aside from that, President Arias was also awarded the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism. The Economists for Peace and Security also accepted him as a trustee. President Arias is a member of the Board of Directors of International Criminal Court’s Trust Fund for Victims.

Personal History

President Arias was born on September 13, 1940 in Heredia, Costa Rica. He was born to an upper class family, a status which made it possible for him to undergo secondary schooling at the Colegio Saint Francis in San Jose, Costa Rica.

After finishing his secondary schooling, Oscar Arias Sanchez flew to the United States in order to study medicine in Boston University. However, he changed his mind after a while and returned to Costa Rica. He finished law and economics instead at the University of Costa Rica. To continue educating himself, Arias flew to the United Kingdom in 1967, where he went to school in the London School of Economics. Eight years later in 1974, he received a political science doctorate degree from the University of Essex.

The Costa Rican president is also the holder of over 50 honorary degrees from different universities.

The National Liberation Party and his First Presidency

Arias joined the Partido Liberacion Nacional and ran under its banner for president in 1986. The PLN is known for being the party under which several popular Costa Rican presidents belong to, like its founder Jose Figueres. Under the same banner, Arias achieved victory.

He then went on to shift Costa Rican economy to focus on non-traditional agriculture and tourism, which some of his own party mates critized as shifting to a neoliberal economic model. The PLN, after all, focuses on social democrat teachings, which they claimed Arias abandoned during his administration.

President Arias also reinstated the standard academic tests that students have to take upon finishing primary and secondary schooling. He also pushed for the creation of the Central American Parliament, although currently he announced Costa Rica’s non-participation in the Parliament.

Esquipulas Accord

By the time Arias became the president of Costa Rica, the Central American countries were engaged in violent and long-running civil wars. In May 1986, President Arias was one of the five Central American presidents that attended the first Esquipulas Summit in Esquipulas, Guatemala.

The summit resulted into a Peace Plan which was submitted on February 15, 1987. From this peace plan, the Esquipulas Peace Process was drafted. The Process was a framework for resolving conflict and for economic cooperation between the beleaguered Central American states.

Another summit was then held by the five Central American presidents including Arias, which resulted to the “Esquipulas II” accord that was signed on August 7, 1987 in Guatemala City.

Despite rejection by the United States due to its recognition of the Nicaraguan Sandinista regime, the accoes was successful as it paved the way for the 1990 reconciliation and ending of the 30-year Guatemalan Civil War, and the peace agreement in El Salvador.

Arias’ efforts led to the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize, although there are criticisms that he has plagiarized propositions made by Vinicio Cerezo of Guatemala as his own.

Second Presidency

The Costa Rican judiciary formerly forbade former presidents from running for a second term. However, in 2004, the Constitutional Court made a very controversial decision removing that restriction. Following that, Arias announced his intention to run for a second presidency opposite Otton Solis, Otto Guevara, Ricardo Toledo and Antonio Alvarez.

Solis and Arias were the foremost among the five presidential candidates. Competition was stiff, with only a 0.4% or 3,200-vote difference after the first count. Voters who abstained from voting for the other candidates even voted for Solis at the last minute, resulting in the thin margin of votes. It was seen as an effort to prevent Arias from winning.

One of the first decisions he made on his second Presidency was to end Costa Rica’s recognition of Taiwan as the Republic of China, and instead recognized the mainland People’s Republic of China.

Tendinitis

Just recently, on May 20, 2008, President Arias was diagnosed as having a nonmalignant cyst on his vocal cords by the Philadelphia Ears, Nose and Throat Associates. Doctors then advised him not to talk for a month, after which surgery may be performed if his condition did not improve.

Submitted by:

Attila Jancsina

Attila Z Jancsina is a freelance copy writer. He occasionally writes for Costa Rica Real Estate. Website offers Free FSBO advertisement.




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