After the political scandal in February in which one of Guanacaste’s legislators, Ronal Vargas, resigned for health problems and five days later it came out that it was due to a sexual harassment complaint, the Broad Front (FA- Frente Amplio) party has a new representative for Guanacaste in the legislative assembly.
Suray Carrillo, a native of Pozo de Agua in Nicoya and mother of three children, took over the legislative seat on February 9th.
Carrillo is a lawyer by profession, specializing in international relations. In addition, she has served as regional director of the Community Development Administration (DINADECO), president of the Nicoya Canton Community Development Associations Union, parliamentary adviser and social activist for more than 25 years.
The Voice of Guanacaste spoke with the legislator, who confessed that she didn’t expect Vargas resignation and affirmed that the former legislator has been given bad advice.
How do you feel about receiving this accreditation?
Very confident due to being a social activist for more than 25 years. This gives me great fortitude, being able to know the social problems that our province has, just like I know the problem of the indigenous people and I am going to be the voice of the most marginalized.
Are you surprised by the Vargas’ resignation?
It was a surprise to me. I did not expect it. I was one of the last to know. It pained me a lot. We were fellow activists for a long time. He even called me and told me he was going in peace and gave me some recommendations.
In what way would you like to represent the female gender as a legislator?
I will support projects that are in the legislative assembly that benefit women. In addition, I have a project that no woman should be left without social security and that each community should have a committee and a house for women to receive training and resources from INAMU (National Institute for Women- Instituto Nacional de la Mujer).
What is your relationship with the other Guanacaste legislators?
With Juan Marín (PLN), we have had to be at the negotiating table and that has been my relationship with him, as well as with Johnny Leiva (PUSC). As for Marta (Arauz) (PLN), I have not dealt with her much. I’ve had a lot of respect for her and we have never had conflicts. However, I was surprised that she did not come over to congratulate me as the others did on the day I was sworn in.
Would you make a strategic alliance with them to achieve any project for Guanacaste?
That depends, if they are projects that benefit the people of Guanacaste and do not go against the ethical principles of the FA party, yes…
What will your priorities be for the remainder of the legislative period?
I am following the agenda that was left for us by Jose Merino and Villalta, including Tecocos (Coastal Community Territories Law) to prevent coastal families from bring evicted, the project in defense of those affected by Nemagon (a pesticide manufactured in the USA that is banned by American laws from being used since it causes cancer, infertility, blindness, poisoning and even death), housing in Guanacaste, farmers and agriculture.
Will your husband, Wilmar Matarrita, be your legislative adviser?
That will be defined in the next few days but yes, I would like him to be my adviser. However, we should look for what is in the best interest of my administration and this should be considered by the party’s leadership. (Her husband, Matarrita, was Ronal Vargas adviser but as of March 5, Matarrita is longer and advisor since Suray Carrillo fired him along with five other advisers)
How much would your work as legislator help your husband, Wilmar Matarrita, in a possible candidacy for mayor of Nicoya?
My goal is to push through good projects to help the people. I have no doubt that the better my administration is, the more it will benefit the party and, in this case, Wilmar as a candidate. But what we want is the well being of the people. That’s what we work for.
What do you think about the resignation of Ronal Vargas?
It was a voluntary decision at the time that he resigned due to the acts reported by the alleged victim. I considered it an act of courage. I felt proud because not violating the rights of women and non-aggression towards women are among the principles of the party.
Do you think that this matter was handled correctly both by Vargas as well as by the FA party leadership?
Yes, I think that the procedures were the correct ones. They adhere to the statutes of the party. Ronal himself, when he assumed the role, signed commitments that have to do with ethics.
In what way has this act affected the FA party?
This situation has been a blow for the party membership because it has to do with someone who has been a colleague for many years, but it leaves the party raised very high because we have done the opposite of what other parties have done in similar cases.
Ronal Vargas accused the FA party leadership of coercion… What can you tell us about that?
Ronal might be affected and there are people who are taking advantage of Ronal’s crisis and state of depression. It does surprise us, because he has been very courageous, a fighter who has faced difficult situations. There are people who are giving him bad advice. Ronal is not like that…
What else do you want to say to those who are hoping for good management on your part?
Tell the people of Guanacaste that here they have a legislator from the people who will always stand by the marginalized and oppressed.
Jose Pablo, lawyer, Maria Daniela, psychologist, and the youngest, Wilmar, who is studying medicine in Havana, Cuba.
The only thing I have is a farm that I inherited from my father, Manuel Carrillo Torres. It measures approximately 16 hectares (39.5 acres), located in Corral de Piedra, and I keep it as forestland so the animals multiply, like deer, coati, etc.