Americans and Costa Rican citizens gathered with staffers from the U. S. Embassy Tuesday to converse about the election process and watch the vote count unfold. Many were high school students or aspiring journalists from the University of Costa Rica.
A Country Day School student and U. S. citizen named Dalton expressed his support for former governor Mitt Romney, because he feels Romney is best for the economy, he said. He also said that for him, associates are important
“The president has gotten endorsements from persons like Katy Perry, people who I feel are a degradation to society,” he said. Ms. Perry is a controversial pop singer. Romney surrounds himself with more respectable people like businessmen, he added.
Dalton was a minority among his friends, who were all Costa Rican and President Barack Obama supporters. They grilled Dalton on topics such as women’s rights, health care and foreign policy, the later being a topic the young man agreed was Romney’s weakness.
One good thing the young man said would come from this election, no matter who wins, is the fact that his faith has gained from the election.
He, like Romney, is a Mormon. He said that the election has given people more knowledge about the faith and reduced negative views. However this is not the case for everyone.
“The evangelicals don’t like us,” he said.
Others had reasons for supporting Romney, such as the feeling that as president he would better help Costa Rica.
“Personally, I like Obama better, but Obama wants to take businesses from Costa Rica and put them back in the United States,” said José Pablo Hernández, a University of Costa Rica student. “Romney would be better for our economy.” This knowledge he said was based on a report from a speaker who presented this view to his class.
First time voter Ana Velasquez, proudly declared her support for the president because of his positions on issues.
“I’m 24 and this is my first time voting,” she said. “I feel like a good citizen.”
Ms. Velasquez has a unique situation in that both her parents are Guatemalan, but her mother gave birth to her in the United States where her father was studying for his master’s degree.
Her father later got a job in Costa Rica, and she has been living here for the last 20 years.
Although Ms. Velasquez has not lived in the States, she said she felt a devotion to cast an electronic vote in her birth state of Colorado. Obama won Colorado.
Another first-time voter was a foreign exchange student from New Orlean’s Tulane University.
He said that he felt like Obama best identified with his views on social welfare and political policies. At only 18 years, he said he wished he could have voted in an actual polling booth, because he had problems with the technicalities of his ballot such as his electronic signature.
He was still excited to be a part of the process, he said.
U. S. Ambassador Anne Slaughter Andrew expressed the importance of involving youth in the political process. She spoke to the gathering in the Crowne Plaza Corobici Hotel. The embassy puts on an event like this every four years to show Costa Ricans how the electoral process works. Hundreds attended by invitation.
“This year, I feel very proud to say my daughter is now an active participant in this democracy,” said Ms. Andrew. “She has submitted her vote for the first time in the presidential election.
The embassy provided information about the candidates and the Electoral College. Presenters also described how the election works.
Sophomore journalism students Melania Rodríguez and Corolina González commented that they thought the election process in the United States was more diplomatic than the process in Costa Rica. “Here everyone hates the government,” said González. “At least they try to make it festive.”
Ms. Andrew commented on her pride in a democratic nation.
“There is no doubt that this has been a very tough campaign,” she said. “Regardless of whether the Republican or Democratic candidate wins, it is the democracy of our country that wins in every election. In the mean time, she invited everyone to watch the action.
“My heart is in my hands,” said Ms. Velasquez. “When I hear them say Obama won Florida, I can relax.”