President Laura Chinchilla delivered her swan song Thursday night.,
The president blamed nature, the world economic situation, climate change, the hostile administration in Nicaragua, lawmakers and even the news media for her failures. And she took credit for favorable developments even if they had been in the planning stages for years.
She told the assembled new legislature and guests that she had done her best, according to the official text of her 9.500-plus word talk.
As she had done early in her term, she linked damaging bad weather to climate change. Specifically she cited Tropical Storm Thomas, later a hurricane, that affected 300,000 Costa Rican in 2010.
She also attributed major road collapses to nature. These included the Interamericana Norte, the autopista General Cañas and the Circunvalación that has inconvenienced greatly the population, she said.
The president said that the effects of climate change continue handing the country an expensive bill. Scientists generally are reluctant to attribute any natural event to climate change, which is considered a trend. Since the early 20th century the average earth and sea surface temperature has increased less than a degree Celsius.
The president also blamed the Sala IV constitutional court for preventing fiscal reform. And she blamed the legislature for sidetracking what she called institutional reform. The president said these were two battles her administration lost. She had proposed amassive restructuring and increases in taxes, but the court questioned the procedures in the Asamblea Legislativa
She warned the 57 new lawmakers that the fiscal situation is an urgent job for them. She also noted that some 95 percent of the national budget is fixed by constitutional and legislative mandates.
The president also said that if the next administration does not follow through with key projects, the country would lose opportunity and credibility, She cited the proposed container handling facility a Dutch firm plans to build in Moín, the widening of Ruta 32 from Río Frio to Limón and the San José-San Ramón highway. All are controversial.
She also took credit for saving the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social from bankruptcy. Among other action, the executive branch paid by a note the social charges it has owed for years on its employees.
Her major legacy, according to the speech, is what she said was the improvements in citizen security. Murder rates have dropped from 11 per 100,000 to 8 per every 100,000 from 2010 to 2011, she said. The president noted that 2,000 more prison cells has been constructed.
She also defended her decision to construct a roadway along the Rió San Juan at the northern border of the country. The project was spurred by Nicaragua’s invasion of a part of Costa Rica to open up a new mouth for the river. She called some media reports yellow journalism when they mentioned the loss of large sums of money, environmental damage and other woes. Some 70 percent of the gravel road is in good condition, the president said.
She also said that the roadway was visionary and vital to the nation’s sovereignty. The president said that she, herself, has made complaints to prosecutors and that she was frustrated by the lack of advances in the investigation.
The roadway was constructed as an emergency by local contractors without bidding.
Continuing her criticism of the news media, the president said some outlets created a climate of opinion contrary to the approval of laws or the advance of contracts for the general welfare.
She also said that she was concerned by government officials opposing measures that are contrary to the interests of the communications media. That was seen as a slap against La Nación, which is in a tax battle with the government.
The president said that the communications media, the leaders of public opinion, are essential sources to generate social dynamics. By dong so ethically the impact on society would be positive, she said. But if they promote ignorance, deliberate distortions and unbalanced reports they hurt everyone, including themselves. The president went so far late in her administration to set up her own newspaper online that published good news about the government.
She called upon the media to put in practice a professional creativity, based on facts, promoted by reason and guided by integrity and centered on the welfare of the country.
She also said that history would judge the cost of opening the way for the first woman in the presidency.
“Those who would condemn the female leadership for the errors I have committed underestimate the force and determination of woman,” she added.
Ms. Chinchilla leaves office in six days.