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Laura Chinchilla Miranda (born 28 March 1959;Spanish pronunciation: [ˈlawɾa tʃinˈtʃiʎa miˈɾanda]) is a Costa Rican politician and the first female President of Costa Rica. She was one of Óscar Arias Sánchez's two Vice-Presidents and his administration's Minister of Justice. She was the governing PLN candidate for President in the 2010 general election, where she won with 46.76% of the vote. She is the sixth woman to be elected president of a Latin American country and the first woman to become president of Costa Rica. She was sworn in as president of Costa Rica on May 8, 2010.
Chinchilla was born in Carmen Central, San José in 1959. Her father was Rafael Ángel Chinchilla Fallas (a former comptroller of Costa Rica) and her mother was Emilce Miranda Castillo. She married Mario Alberto Madrigal Díaz on 23 January 1982 and divorced on 22 May 1985. She had a son in 1996 with José María Rico Cueto, a Spanish lawyer who also holds Canadian citizenship; Chinchilla married him on 26 March 2000.
Chinchilla graduated from the University of Costa Rica and received her master's degree in public policy from Georgetown University. Prior to entering politics, Chinchilla worked as an NGO consultant in Latin America and Africa, specializing in judicial reform and public security issues. She went on to serve in the José María Figueres Olsen administration as vice-minister for public security (1994–1996) and minister of public security (1996–1998). From 2002 to 2006, she served in the National Assembly as a deputy for the province of San José.
Chinchilla was one of two vice-presidents elected under the second Arias administration (2006–2010). She resigned the vice-presidency in 2008 in order to prepare her run for the presidency in 2010. On 7 June 2009 she won the Partido Liberación Nacional (PLN) primary with a 15% margin over her nearest rival, and was thus endorsed as the party's presidential candidate.
March for Life and Family
On 28 November 2009, Chinchilla became Costa Rica's only mainstream party candidate to participate and voice support for a march dubbed "March for Life and Family". Organized by a coalition of church leaders, its stated mission conflated opposition to the legalization of abortion and granting recognition for civil unions to same-sex couples. Laura Chinchilla Miranda's participation raised concerns among several Costa Rican civil and human rights leaders who have regarded the event as pandering to fundamentalism and homophobia. Chinchilla stated that the march was not "against any group".
Chinchilla's Partido Liberación Nacional is a member of the Socialist International, whose motto is the promotion of "progressive politics for a better world."
The British Foreign and Commonwealth minister with responsibility for Central America, Baroness Kinnock, applauded Chinchilla's election as the first female President of Costa Rica. Kinnock also praised Chinchilla for stating her continued support for the forward thinking approach by the previous government in working to combat climate change and said that the UK would continue to work with Costa Rica on this important issue in 2010.
Laura Chinchilla's political platform emphasized anti-crime legislation in response to Costa Rica's growing concerns over safety. She is also expected to give continuity to the current government's pro-free trade policies. She is considered a social conservative. She opposes gay marriage, but has stated publicly the need for a legal frame to provide fundamental rights to same-sex couples. She supports maintaining the country's prohibition of abortion under most circumstances.
The Juan Rafael Mora Porras Road affair
In October 2010, Nicaraguan forces occupied islands in the San Juan River delta. The land is claimed by the Nicaraguan and Costa Rican governments. Some observers opined that the Nicaraguan action was probably connected with President Daniel Ortega’s reelection campaign. The Costa Rican government reacted to the Nicaraguan action. Costa Rica sought to place the case before the International Court of Justice. By mid-2011, President Chinchilla decided to build a road along the river, as a response to what she and her government saw as a Nicaraguan invasion of Costa Rican territory. In Spanish Name of the Road The road was officially named “Ruta 1856, Juan Rafael Mora Porras” to honor a Costa Rican hero, who led the country in the fight in Nicaragua and Costa Rica against the forces of William Walker, who had proclaimed himself as president of Nicaragua, and wanted to restore slavery in Central America.
The road was to stretch more than 150 km. A decree of emergency allowed the government to waive environmental regulations and oversight from the General Comptroller (Contraloria General de la Republica). Neither environmental nor engineering studies were conducted before the road was announced. There were accusations of mismanagement and corruption. The Ministerio Publico (Costa Rican attorney general) announced an official inquiry about the charges of corruption. Francisco Jiménez, minister of public works and transportation was dismissed by Chinchilla as a consequence of the affair Minister dismissed by Chinchilla (in Spanish).
Views on society
Chinchilla opposes any amendment of the constitution aimed at separation of church and state in Costa Rica. The constitution currently defines the Republic of Costa Rica as a Roman Catholic nation. Her position contrasts with that of former President Óscar Arias Sánchez, who supports establishing a secular state.
She is against legalizing the morning after pill, which is banned in Costa Rica. Many pro-life supporters in Latin American countries oppose the morning after pill because they believe it to be an abortifacient. This position contradicts the World Health Organization's (WHO) statement that emergency contraception cannot be an abortifacient, because it will not work in cases when the woman is already pregnant.
Environmental protection and sustainability is very important for the President, and she continues Costa Rica's level of leadership in these areas, for example, in May 2011 she declared Odyssey 2050 The Movie of 'Public and Cultural Interest'.
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- "Laura Chinchilla Miranda's curriculum vitae on her Facebook page". Laura Chinchilla Miranda. http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=49192216499. Retrieved 2010-05-09.
- "Thousands March Against Gay Civil Unions in Costa Rica". Costa Rica Pages. http://www.costaricapages.com/blog/costa-rica-news/gay-civil-unions/1250. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
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- "Laura Chinchilla creara ministerio de la familia" (in Spanish). informe-c.info. 28 November 2009. http://www.informe-c.info/voto-2010/laura-chinchilla-creara-ministerio-de-la-familia-2892.html. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
- "Socialist International Members". Socialist International. http://www.socialistinternational.org/viewArticle.cfm?ArticlePageID=1450. Retrieved February 22, 2010.
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- "Todos rosarios". El País. http://www.elpais.com/articulo/ultima/Acabare/rezandome/todos/rosarios/elpepiult/20100523elpepiult_2/Tes. Retrieved June 8, 2010.
- "2009 Presidential campaign-YouTube". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ut0jVjBkkzg.
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- Dredging up votes: Daniel Ortega and the swamps of opportunism [[The Economist[[Nov. 11, 2010
- "No desde Costa Rica al aborto, Estado laico y matrimonios homosexuales" (in Spanish). elnuevoalcazar.es. 3 February 2010. http://www.elnuevoalcazar.es/2010/02/03/no-al-aborto-estado-laico-y-matrimonios-homosexuales-de-la-candidata-a-la-presidencia-de-costa-rica. Retrieved 22 February 2010.[dead link]
- "Presidente Óscar Arias apoya reforma para declarar estado laico a Costa Rica" (in Spanish). El Economista. 10 September 2009. http://ecodiario.eleconomista.es/internacional/noticias/1528249/09/09/Presidente-Oscar-Arias-apoya-reforma-para-declarar-estado-laico-a-Costa-Rica.html. Retrieved February 2010.
- "Una mujer de ordeno y mando" (in Spanish). El País. 2 October 2009. http://www.elpais.com/articulo/internacional/mujer/ordeno/mando/elpepuint/20100209elpepiint_10/Tes. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
- "Emergency contraception in the Americas". Pan American Health Organization, World Health Organization. http://www.paho.org/English/AD/GE/emergencycontraception.pdf. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
- Garita, Mario. "Costa Rican Animated Film Teaches About Climate Change". Odyssey 2050. Costa Rican News. http://thecostaricanews.com/costa-rican-animated-film-teaches-about-climate-change/8186. Retrieved 24 February 2012.