Yesterday, October 7th, 2007 was probably the most historic day in Costa Rica since the foundation of the 2nd Republic back in 1949. Though I´m not old enough to remember those days after the revolution we know The Government instituted The Supreme Elections Tribunal to hold presidential elections every four years . Since then, not much had changed about the way costarricans do things or make decissions about national issues until yesterday, when the mechanism of referendum was employed for the first time in this nation´s history to decide the subscription, or not, of the CAFTA Treaty with the U.S after a 3 year gridlock in congress, where every filibuster tactic you can imagine was used, and probably will continue to be used to procrastinate the implementation of the treaty as long as some people can.
The scare tactics used on both side would make a list too long for me to enumerate in a blog but they ranged from alegations such as the U.S taking over the national water supply and the territorial sea to the loss of several thousands of jobs in the next days and the country becoming an international pariah.
The ballots today show a victory of the pro-CAFTA movement in the order of more than 50.000 votes (51.7% of the total voting population) over it´s contender, the “NO Movement”that reached a 48.3%. The loosing party not yet accepting defeat and demanding a vote-by-vote recount. The referendum process was witnessed by more than 150 international representatives including President of OEA Guillermo Insulza. Curiuosly enough, the “NO Movement” a few days ago had expressed their entire trust in the referendum process, and The Supreme Elections Tribunal after a poll had been published the which gave their movement an advantage of 12 points over the “YES Movement” until the outcome of the situation ended up pretty different. While the Government and it´s partisans celebrated euphoricaly out in the streets of San José, defranchised followers of the “NO” created an incident when, at about 8:30 pm the Tribunal handed out the first results of the election. The leaders of the “NO” had built an improvised platform outside their headquarters to address their followers, and after their spokesman rector of The Technological Institute Ignacio Trejos said some almost-uninteligeble words to the congregation asking them to keep calm, interrupted the speech suddenly and walked off with the rest of the movements leaders, including an expresident of Costa Rica, some figureheads of the now-extinct comunist party(Comunism is now a bad word, so they they just gave their parties different names
), and some some State Labor Union leaders. As he took to his car and was leaving some of their people were clobbering the car and cursing in some kind of surrealistic scene.
The leaders of “El Movimiento del NO” claim many anomalies had plagued the electoral process including a braking of the 3 day truce before the election day the which the Government had used to issue propagandistic statements alegedly and that there even had been unwarranted intromission by the U.S Government disclosing information that hurt the “NO” Champaign. Presumably a letter written by The U.S Representative of Commerce Susan Schwab stating that The U.S had no intentions of renegotiating the CAFTA Treaty and that the benefits of The Caribean Basin Initiative could well be in jeopardy, and which they held were not true.