Region, Politics

Melina Ajoy: “Guanacaste is a province that has been very overlooked by the government”

Esta publicación también está disponible en: Español
Translator: Arianna Hernández

On May 1, Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC for the Spanish acronym) member Melina Ajoy, from Nicoya, was appointed as the first secretary of the Legislative Assembly after being nominated by her caucus and elected with 46 of 57 votes. An honor, the legislator said, but also a responsibility.

Ajoy is not a stranger to Cuesta de Moras Avenue (where the Legislative Assembly is located). In 2017, she began working as a legislative adviser for her party and in 2018, she tried to win one of the seats as a secondary legislative candidate for Guanacaste.

At that time, she didn’t get the needed votes, and although she should have taken over the position after the death of Legislator Rodolfo Peña in 2021, she turned it down due to her aspirations for this term. From then until the end of April, she was the head of the office of Legislator Jose Maria Guevara, who replaced Peña.

[Due to the experience in the Assembly], one manages to be in the pond, as we say, because I’m already familiar with it. Legislative experience has helped me a lot,” said the 34-year-old legislator.

In January of this year, Ajoy stated that strengthening the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG for the Spanish acronym) in rural areas of Guanacaste and expanding EBAIS medical care in remote areas of the country would be among her priorities. Although she affirms that these issues are still on her radar, she also wants to have a leading role in progress toward economic revival not only in the province, but also in the country.

She is the daughter of former Guanacastecan legislator Emanuel Ajoy (may he rest in peace), who represented the province during two terms (1990-1994 and 1998-2002). The legislator was a key figure in managing the donation of La Amistad (Friendship) Bridge, over the Tempisque River. Tracking the condition of that bridge and improvements to it is precisely one of her causes, she said.

Melina did this interview by phone at night, after participating in the first extraordinary sessions called by President Rodrigo Chaves. She joked that although she has already spent several years in San Jose, she still can’t get used to not feeling the Guanacaste heat. She also repeated several times that even though she is a legislator, she plans to travel frequently to her house in Nicoya and to other cantons that need her.

In this conversation, legislator Ajoy explored her agenda in parliament for the coming months, her challenges as secretary of the Legislative Assembly and her relationship with the rest of the legislators representing the province.

What are your specific plans, whether within the caucus or personally, that you plan to develop in these first months of work for the benefit of Guanacaste?

I have already made my first contact with President Rodrigo Chaves and with the Minister of the Presidency, Mrs. Natalia. Guanacaste is a province, like the provinces of Limon and Puntarenas, that has been very overlooked by the government in recent years. That’s why I mainly asked them to give priority to the issues of infrastructure, health, education and economic revival.

You get started in the Assembly with two of your promised projects already approved: Paacume and free trade zones. What is the next step then?

As a legislator for Guanacaste, I’m going to be a regulatory entity and I’m going to be on top of making sure timeframes are given and the real timeline is followed so that they become a reality. I believe that (for the free trade zone project), Guanacaste has to be prepared in terms of human talent or the English component, for example, STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), which is important for us and is what the labor demand is asking for. The issue of internet connectivity, that we Guanacastecans, young people, women, families, be prepared for the companies that might come to invest. Making sure of that is important.

You constantly mentioned the La Amistad Bridge project in the campaign. How do you plan to work on this project in your first months as legislator?

In my first speech in the plenary, I touched on it. It’s one of the issues that are urgent not only for the affected cantons, but for the province and as a national issue. In the upcoming days, I’m going to present a note to the corresponding entities to first see what the current state of the bridge is. I’ll continue insisting so that hopefully that budget, which I would expect that budget to exist, is immediately put into effect to be able to do that maintenance that hasn’t been given for more than 22 years to a work that was donated.

What other projects do you have on your agenda?

I put file 22.391 on the table, the Environmental Use Right Law (DUA for the Spanish acronym), for families in border areas. It’s for more than 500 families in the area of ​​La Cruz, the same area of ​​Alajuela, who have lived for many years [in protected areas] but don’t have that grant to be able to access a free housing bonus, to be able to enter the development banking system or to be able to create a business. Obviously, yes, some changes are needed and other things that we’re working on from the office, but it’s positive and hopefully this executive branch convenes it.

There’s another issue that’s also important to me, which is the regulation of mining and small-scale activity, which was in the Environment Commission before and, hopefully, the president will also convene them. To thereby provide legal security to the traditional miner of Abangares, the clay makers of the canton of Santa Cruz and the traditional sand extractors, which are also sectors that contribute to generating income for the province.

How do you plan to create or strengthen territorial ties in Guanacaste?

My office will be an office with open doors and the officials who are in my office also have to exercise the territorial part. Of course, I won’t let go of their hands. They’re officials who have had their leadership in their cantons, they know what the demands of each of the communities have been. Personally, I ‘m also going to do tours on weekends to meet with different sectors and to be able to listen.

You’re one of the two Nicoyan legislators who will represent Guanacaste before the assembly. Can this influence the improvement of that canton?

It’s fortunate that Nicoya has two legislators, one from the govern[ing party] and one from the opposition. We agree with Daniel Vargas on many issues for the development not only of the canton of Nicoya but also of Guanacaste. And I’m also happy and very optimistic about the appointment of several Guanacastecans made by the president.

You’re also part of one of the big opposition blocs. How do you intend to assume that regulatory role within the assembly?

The opposition and the government are agreeing on those axes that I mentioned initially: the route, the economic revival, the route towards education, employment and the route towards reforming the State. I believe that we, as an opposition faction, are going to work on these axes, obviously carrying out responsible political control.

Relevant issues for the country are coming up soon in the Assembly, such as the Escazu Agreement or Public Employment. What would be the way of legislating in your office? Will you legislate individually or as a caucus group?

These are issues that we’re analyzing from PUSC. We have to have meetings to see how PUSC has that position. On the issue of the [Escazu] Agreement, the faction is definitely not going to support it because there’s already legislation and we have to see how to find another route.

Read the rest of the interviews with Guanacaste’s representatives here