President describes citizens as being in the trenches every day

Casa Presdiencial photo Alajuela street was lined for morning parade

President Laura Chinchilla Miranda put herself in the heat of the battle along with Juan Santamaría in her patriotic speech Wednesday.

She said the gains of her administration were the result of a general battle plan. She said they also are the result of a large framework of men and women who with valor and a great feeling of responsibility have accompanied her from various trenches.

The atypical battle metaphors filled the speech and took their key from the heroic effort of Santamaría, a drummer boy who used a torch to ignite the thatch roof of the enemy strongpoint in the Battle of Rivas 156 years ago.

That battle is behind, but civic duty transcends time, said Ms. Chinchilla, and “every day in our civic lives is transformed into an 11th of April.” Citizens are in the trenches every day in the factories, the schools, in the furrows in which they sow and in the paths that they open for science, culture, sports and life, she said based on a written text of her talk. The speech was in Alajuela at the celebration of the national holiday.

Ms. Chinchilla gave these examples of modern day heroes and heroines: The neighbor who files a complaint against criminality, the student who burns the midnight oil to move his family ahead and simple volunteerism.

Ms. Chinchilla said it was her government that designed a plan of battle against the principal modern threats. These included the economy, which she said was improving with 80,000 persons employed in the last 12 months.

She also addressed citizen security, which she said was improving based on falling crime rates and rates of victimization. She also said that her administration has brought greater security to the nation’s borders and have delivered blows to narcotraffickers. She emphasized the improved condition of citizens along the northern border with Nicaragua. The central government moved to build a major road, install electric power and make other improvements after Nicaraguan soldiers invaded a small part of Costa Rica there, although the president did not mention this.

She also spoke of valiant and responsible actions to salvage social security and the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. Among the actions the government has taken was to pay off the massive debt it owed to the Caja, although the president did not mention this.

Finally the president turned to the issue of the day, government finances. She said the government had had an impact of tax evasion and had advanced the process of laws to increase tax collection and close the doors to fraud. The bulk of the tax evaders who were exposed were members of the president’s own cabinet and the nation’s chief tax collector. Although the president took credit, the bulk of the exposure was by the Spanish daily La Nación.

The administration Tuesday did say that it would push two proposed laws against tax evasion. The measures are languishing in the legislature.

The president then defended her plan for $500 million in new taxes that has been undermined by the revelation of the tax evasions of her closest advisers.

The president said that her goal was to modernize and make more equal the tax system and that a group of lawmakers acted responsibly. But she said the governmental setup of three powers has turned the process into interminable confusion where the veto of the minority imposes its will on the democratically elected majority.

“That great courage to push a policy although unpopular is responsible,” the president said of her tax plan. “What great valor to put oneself above the corporate pressures, unions and the power of the news media to defend that which we know is necessary for the country.”

The president did not mention clearly that the tax plan hit its biggest roadblock in the Sala IV constitutional court when magistrates ruled that the way the measure gained an initial vote was constitutionally flawed. The Poder Judicial announced the decision Tuesday evening. The measure has gone back to committee.

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