Luis Fernando Mendoza left his life as mayor of the Municipality of Cañas to take the position he holds now. He affirms that although he enjoyed his work in the canton for almost six years, he felt he had unfinished business in the Legislative Assembly and wanted to return there.
Mendoza, who is a political scientist by profession, also worked as an advisor in Parliament for more than a decade and was a legislator between 2010 and 2014. During that time, he was also president of the Legislative Directory.
I entered parliament with more clarity,” the legislator said from his new office, during the time he found between parliamentary sessions to speak by Zoom with this medium.
In February of this year, during the first electoral round, Mendoza assured The Voice that one of his priorities will be the Paacume water project and a reform to the current Free Trade Zone Law to create incentives when businesses set up locations in areas such as Guanacaste. Both laws were approved in the previous electoral period. Three months later, he says that his priority will be to revive the economy of the coastal areas, but he also promises to closely monitor the implementation of these two projects.
In this interview, the legislator expounded on his commitments as a legislator from the largest opposition caucus, analyzed the reasons for the failure of the National Liberation Party (PLN for the Spanish acronym) in Guanacaste and explained what his main plans will be during these first months of work.
You were already part of the assembly during a previous term. What will you do differently?
I have much more experience and that allows me to work much faster. I also spent almost six years in the municipal system as mayor. I’ve managed to get to know even the finest detail of reality in the territory. So that means that now I can visualize the problems and the opportunities in a very different, very distinct way, let’s say with greater clarity. That will allow me to work much faster.
What will your priorities be in the coming months?
We’re thinking of working hard on the issue of decentralization of the State. I think we have an enormous debt with the provinces that aren’t central. The coastal provinces have had this deficiency in development in terms of road and institutional infrastructure, [internet] connectivity, housing, attention to poverty.
I’m also proposing to the government our collaboration so that those projects that have already passed through the Legislative Assembly and that have the intention of some development for the province of Guanacaste, as is the case of the Water for Guanacaste project (Paacume project), are effectively a reality as quickly as possible.
One of your biggest campaign promises was attracting free trade zones to Guanacaste, but this law was already approved in the last assembly. What would be the next steps on this issue?
The truth is that I’m very grateful to the group of legislators from the previous constitutional term who left this law approved. If the law hadn’t been approved, I had three elements that I wanted to incorporate. First, to revise the social contribution costs in our province so that this is an attractive element. Two, the issue of the cost of energy. Three, the issue of red tape, which is really torture for anyone who wants to start a business in this country. If we’re given the opportunity, we could think about revising this law, which is already very good, but could be improved.
And how would you incorporate it?
Through an amendment to the law. Logically, we would be thinking of sharpening the pencil very well on each of these issues so as not to come into conflict with current legislation and with constitutionality. We’re already making contacts with investors who want to hear about the advantages we have in Guanacaste. In this way, we would become a bridge so that they can come to our province to produce, generate wealth, employment and tax resources for the municipalities and for the government itself.
You’re part of the largest opposition bloc in the Assembly. What will the government’s auditing and political control be like?
The citizens told National Liberation that we had to act as controller of the one who holds the presidency. My role in the opposition will be, I repeat, moving forward with our political proposal and supporting what other parties offered that coincides with what we consider to be what is expected and straightening out what we consider to not be in the best interest of the country.
Guanacaste historically supported the National Liberation party, but this second round marked support for Liberation’s opponent. What can you do from the Assembly to recover the province’s trust?
There are some flags that National Liberation had raised for many years and that were set aside and they were flags that the citizens required or requested that Liberation continue to lead. From that point of view, we have absolute clarity and awareness in the faction that we must return and get back to those flags that were our standards and that we set aside at some point.
What flags are you referring to?
We have to work on issues such as poverty, job creation, housing. Those are issues that National Liberation raised as a party and that it left behind. And I’m sure that once we get back to that, we’ll once again obtain the trust and endorsement of those citizens that were always waiting and that were always pleased with what Liberation offered and gave them.
And how do you think this affected the party’s institution in areas like Guanacaste?
In the end, Guanacaste, Puntarenas and Limon spoke out. They were provinces that previously gave National Liberation their endorsement and this time, they told us no. There’s an important flag, attention to the coasts. I must admit that it was a manifestation that had nothing to do with local leadership or provincial leadership. The citizens felt that we did represent them and rather the problem was in the national proposal
Are you saying that the problem in the elections wasn’t yours as militants, but the presidential candidate?
Yes, in effect, that happened. Here the reading is very simple. There was a disenchantment and the party that won the elections succeeded in managing a speech or rhetoric that really conquered the will of the Guanacastecans. We are totally clear on that. There is a disgust, but more than the disgust against a political party, it was a disgust against the representation of reality and Costa Rican institutionality. So rather the party that wins the elections concentrates on a proposal that charmed those citizens.
And speaking about alliances and other parties, how do you plan to work together with the other three Guanacastecan legislators in favor of the province?
In reality, I had never seen a union as strong as the one we have now and we four legislators of the province are meeting permanently. More than alliances, what we have found is a willingness to work together and we’re doing it well. Moreover, even before taking office, we had already met to talk about these issues and we’re doing it in a responsible way, but also convinced that it’s the only way to be able to bring development to the province of Guanacaste.