A Priest in the Assembly: Ronal Vargas, Broad Front

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Ronal Guillermo Vargas Araya, age 46, born in Granja of Palmares, currently resides in the Condega neighborhood of Liberia. Known as a Catholic priest and social activist for the poor, he is a professor of philosophy and sociology at the University of Costa Rica (UCR) in Liberia and at the Nicoya campus of the National University (UNA), in addition to being a researcher of environmental issues at UNA.

Vargas served as a Catholic priest in several Guanacaste communities, including La Mansion of Nicoya, the colonial church of Nicoya, Nandayure and Abangares, in the canton of Cañas, and later in the border canton of La Cruz.

In the Provincial Assembly of Guanacaste for the Broad Front Party,he said he will continue being “a priest in the exclusive service of popular struggles, a priest married to justice and law.” His vision for Guanacaste includes the implementation of policies that promote the social development of the province starting with legislation that favors sustainable exploitation of resources and elimination of privileges for foreigners.

For Vargas, Guanacaste is a poor province but impoverished because, even though an abundance of resources are available to the province, these resources are not being exploited for the benefit of the community at large; instead, just a few are really benefiting from these resources, Vargas claims. He cited water resources as an example: some communities have a water shortage while there is an abundance of water for large industries and macro projects.

Vargas has been identified with various social and environmental organizations of Guanacaste. He joined the Commission of Development Implementation of the Arenal Tempisque Watershed and was director of the Guanacaste Area of Conservation (ACG). Vargas said he sees the need for municipalities to focus more on local development and make use of the autonomy that the law grants to them and stop relying on and being manipulated by the republic’s central government.

“We must strengthen local governments so that municipal autonomy is fulfilled and that each municipality takes responsibility for the management of local development and do not become puppets of directives of the central government,” he said.