In late February, Oscar Arias won the presidency of Costa Rica in the country’s closest election in recent history. It wasn’t his first time running. In 1986 he was first sworn in as president and his road back to the Casa Presidencial was a long one, involving a legal challenge to the prohibition on second terms for Costa Rica’s presidents.
Joel Whitney interviewed President Arias in the wake of the September 11 attacks, in an interview that ran last year in Guernica.
We refer you enthusiastically to our archives, where Arias tells Guernica why Costa Rica, a member of the “Coalition of the Willing” (though without an army of its own), is at odds with the U.S. Though the Nobel Peace laureate is not a progressive of the Lula or Chavez ilk, he’s got a lot of bones to pick with George W. Bush (though he says he likes Bush Sr.).
Here’s a snippet:
“The world today spends about $800 billion a year on defense. If just five to ten percent of that were redirected to anti-poverty programs, in ten years we could have all children fed, vaccinated, and educated, all villages would have safe drinking water, and all families would enjoy health and sanitation services. It’s not a matter of resources, it’s a matter of priorities. Our priorities are wrong because our values are wrong. The values for the twenty-first century should be different: instead of greed, generosity; instead of selfishness, solidarity; instead of fanaticism, tolerance; instead of indifference, love.”