Marco Vargas Díaz, as expected, has left the job of minister of the Presidencia. That is a position equivalent to being the president’s chief of staff.
President Laura Chinchilla quickly named Carlos Ricardo Benevides to the position. He is the tourism minister and recently assumed the duties of minister of sports.
Vargas left, in part, because he was unable to work with legislative deputies who opposed the president’s tax increase proposals. To some extent, Vargas has an impossible job because even members of the president’s own party, Liberación Nacional, rejected many aspects of the tax plan. She wanted a 14 percent value added tax, elimination of the tax exemptions for many basic foods and a 1 percent hike to 2.5 percent in the property transfer tax.
Opposition parties said the president had to cut the budget.
Benevides has been a legislative deputy twice, so he knows how the assembly functions.
He also is the man who orchestrated a $15 tax on incoming tourists during the Óscar Arias Sánchez administration.
Vargas had confused some party loyalists as to what the president really wanted. For example, he withdrew on behalf of Casa Presidential a bill that was a mainstay of the presdient’s campaign, a tax on casinos and sportsbooks.