“The priority is to stimulate the economy…and to do that we need infrastructure,” explained Luis Guillermo Solis, presidential candidate for the Citizen Action Party (PAC – Partido Acción Ciudadana), who aims to traverse the entire country convincing “difficult” or undecided voters, looking towards next year’s election.
This past Saturday, November 30, the candidate toured several sites in Guanacaste, including Nicoya. The Voice of Guanacaste had the opportunity to speak with Solis and get to know his proposals regarding the needs of the province.
The Voice: Agriculture has been one of the bases of Guanacaste’s economy, but over time it has shifted towards tourism, principally hotels. Do you think it’s necessary to keep going only in that direction? Or can the two go hand in hand?
Solis: We have to do both because neither agriculture nor tourism is enough. The tourism we’ve favored in Guanacaste is that of the large company. We need both large and small tourism…I don’t want to sound exclusive but big tourism doesn’t generate as much employment as smaller tourism. The tourism market is depressed and for that reason we need agriculture and we need tourism.
Agriculture isn’t only tied to the Costa Rican internal market but also to all of Central America and part of the Caribbean, which is why the subject of infrastructure is extremely important. We need cantonal networks, national highways which could be built in the dry corridor that runs from La Cruz to Limon. I would like to see Daniel Oduber Airport working 24 hours per day with planes bringing cargo from the United States to Central America.
I want to see Cuajiniquil become a first class port. Guanacaste could have two Pacific ports, in addition to the airport, to export its products. I see it as an intense process – working to recuperate agriculture and livestock – because in every part of the country we are being asked to stimulate the agriculture and livestock sector and we are going to do it. PAC has always defended agriculture – it’s not something we just invented.
The Voice: Would you give subsidies to farmers?
Solis: For some products yes, but I wouldn’t want to keep them permanently. For example, rice and products that form (an essential) part of the diet, yes, because we need to ensure our food sovereignty.
The Voice: Many Guanacastecos have to go to the Central Valley to be able to attend university and continue with their studies, because there aren’t programs that they want here, and because the existing programs aren’t practical for the needs of the area. How would you turn that around?
Solis: It’s a matter of speaking with the universities. Many more degrees, shorter technical programs that put people to work faster…but that is all related to the subject of the re-activated economy, because we can have good education programs but very few jobs, and that is why we have to first stimulate the economy. Moreover, we should guarantee more scholarships from the universities so that those who have lower income can also gain access to better education. Also, (we need to) reform CONAPE (Comisión Nacional de Préstamospara la Educación – National Commission for Education Loans) because it’s a moneylender.
The Voice: How would you do that?
Solis: It’s a matter of financial administration.
The Voice: How would you punish corruption?
Solis: First, by appointing people who can’t be corrupted. Second, by guaranteeing the country that, if there are justified cases of corruption, those people will be removed. Third, by making resolutions of the Office of Public Ethics (Procuraduría de la Ética Pública) binding and obligatory and respecting existing regulations which are being disobeyed with impunity.
The Voice: With regard to the election, do you think there will be a second round?
Solis: I’m not sure but there could be one. The conditions forecast that no one will reach 40% (the minimum amount of votes needed to become president), the indifference of the campaign shows it and the more than 50% of electors without a party confirm it. I believe that Johnny Araya can lose in the first round because there are conditions for it to happen, but it is very probable that there will be a second round.
The Voice: What do you think is the main advantage that you have over other candidates?
Solis: That I am a candidate from a non-traditional party and anunconventional politician. I’m here because I believe Costa Rica deserves a better future, and that future can be achieved with the leadership of a party like PAC and under the guidance of a citizen like everyone else who feels like they have what it takes to implement their proposals.
The Voice: Do you feel like the president of Costa Rica?
Solis: Very much and if I didn’t feel that way I wouldn’t be working like I’m working, with 20-hour days, traveling all over the nation, participating in debates. I have gone to practically all the debates because I believe I have to show my face and be on the streets, working with people and listening to them and making suggestions.
The Voice: What is the first thing you would do as president?
Solis: First I would declare an emergency for the national road network. I would intervene in the highways and would put to work the agreement with the Costa Rican Road Network, which is a document that has just been presented by the Federated Guild of Engineers and Architects (ColegioFederado de Ingenieros y Arquitectos), the Chamber of Construction (Cámara de Construcción), academic institutions like LANAMME and others. That would be first, and along with that, closing CONAVI and all the boards that are around CONAVI, strengthening MOPT and establishing a movement plan by way of an electric train in the central valley’s metropolitan area.
The Voice: Do you believe the polls?
Solis: I’m a social scientist…it’s part of my job. I watch the polls with respect, I analyze them, I interpret them and I see them as snapshots of a decisive time in the political life of the country. But I don’t believe those who publish them and use them to manipulate the results. In this case, I see a skeptical country, whose citizens are going to take all the time needed to decide and are saying that they are going to do so responsibly.
The Voice: Traditionally Guanacaste has been a province in which the majority votes for the PLN. How are you going to win those votes?
Solis: By working like crazy – that’s what I’m doing.