UCR Students Demand that Parliamentary Candidates Defend the Interests of Guanacaste and Forget Political Colors

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Students of the University of Costa Rica’s Liberia campus arrived on Wednesday November 20th to the debate organized by UCR Guanacaste Conferences (Conferencias UCR Guanacaste) in order to hear the proposals of deputy candidates.

“As students, as future professionals and as productive people, we believe [the deputies] should ensure the safety of social guarantees and defend our thoughts and attitudes towards human rights. The destiny of the province is in their hands… we demand representation of the perception of the majority of Guanacaste and not personal ideas or political colors,” said Reiner Sibaja, a law student, on behalf of the students.

The debate was moderated by Professor Fernando Zeledon Torres, and was attended by candidates for the top post: Nury Solorzano of New Generation (Nueva Generación), Roxana Muñoz of Citizen Action Party (PAC – Partido Acción Ciudaddana), Ronald Vargas from Broad Front (Frente Amplio), Pablo Guevara of National Restoration (Restauración Nacional), Julio Villafuerte of New Homeland (Patria Nueva), and Jhonny Leiva of Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC – Partido Unidad Social Cristiana).

The notable absentees were Yolanda Alpizar of the Libertarian Movement (Movimiento Libertario) and Juan Marin of National Liberation (Liberación Nacional).

Some 300 people packed the university’s auditorium to hear answers and proposals on topics such as: health, employment, and environment, in which the most applauded candidates were the former priest Ronald Vargas of Broad Front and Johnny Lewis of Social Christian Unity Party, whose health and environment proposals convinced the majority.

Ronald Vargas, when asked about health issues, said, “In Guanacaste we need to create three Class A hospitals, not two Class Z… we need hospitals with the number of necessary specialists, basic and technological equipment.”

On the same question, Johnny Leiva proposes decentralizing health services so that Guanacaste’s hospitals have every kind of specialization and resources, and can make their own decisions.

“We cannot depend on the decisions that are taken in San Jose; our professionals have the ability to make the necessary decisions – we must decentralize health services. We need to decentralize and transfer full power with everything and the resources for our health centers to be able to function properly,” said Vargas.

On environmental matters, Roxana Muñoz of PAC said, “We of the Citizen Action Party aim to promote municipal policies that allow the implementation of regulations and fines on waste management, since the laws exist, what are lacking are mechanisms for applying them.”

As for the question, “What strategies do you propose to attract more jobs to the province?” Pablo Guevara of the National Restoration Party said, “The jobs generated in Guanacaste are for qualified personnel, and according to the State of the Nation (Estado de la Nación) report, 60% of unemployed youths in Guanacaste are people who haven’t completed high school, which is why our party [National Restoration] is driving the creation of micro and medium enterprises. We’re going to do it through entrepreneurship; Guanacaste has very capable people.” said Guevara.

Julio Villafuerte of New Homeland responded, “I know what it is to invest in a daughter so she can become a professional and [then she doesn’t] have a job… I know what that is… I know how painful it is when your daughter says, ‘Daddy and I have to start paying back the loan’ and you do not have a solution for that… Those of us who are parents understand you all for the anxiety of being unemployed. Unfortunately Guanacaste bet on development which made it dependent on the international economy; now we need to return to agriculture. It’s necessary to repurpose farmland towards a technological agriculture, which ensures the local food consumption.”

Regarding employment Ronald Vargas said: “This issue is so delicate that one of those who had to be here didn’t come, and as they’re unemployed says, ‘Contract me, contract me,’” referring to Johnny Araya, who did not attend the debate held November 6th at the same venue.

For Noelia Corrales, a UCR law student and member of the UCR Conferences Group, the activity was a success, as it attracted students and the general public.