(Blogmensgo, gay blog of April 4, 2018) Kein Aprilscherz: No April Fool: Carlos Alvarado Quesada was elected President of Costa Rica on April 1, 2018 in the second round of voting, although (or precisely because) he is clearly in favor of LGBT rights and the legalization of gay marriage, as requested by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) in January 2018. The polls had predicted a close and uncertain election outcome, but the Citizens’ Action Party (PAC, center-left) candidate stood his ground with 60.7% of the vote against former MP Fabricio Alvarado Muñoz, a strict-believing Evangelical who claimed to act on behalf of the family and traditional values. Despite their identical surnames, the two opponents are not related.
On 8 May 2018, Carlos Alvarado will take office for four years. He made no secret of wanting to legalize homosexual marriage as quickly as possible in the spirit of an integrative and respectful minority policy.
Despite Costa Rica's continuing problems (chronic unemployment, budget deficit, rising crime, government corruption), the discussion focused on same-sex marriage, which formally polarized the camps of the two candidates. Fabricio Alvarado (43) had led the first ballot with almost 25% of the votes cast, and Carlos Alvarado (38) only came in second with about 22% of the votes. While the latter promised to implement the IACHR’s decision to legalize gay marriage in Costa Rica, the former threatened to leave the IACHR, prohibit sex education at school and restrict abortions as much as possible.
Costa Rica is one of the Latin American countries that, after some gay-friendly progress, recently recorded a neo-conservative mood among the population, which was mainly supported or even instigated by Catholic and Protestant Evangelical groups. In Costa Rica, according to the Pew Research Center, the proportion of Catholics had fallen from 93% in 1970 to 62% in 2014, and Protestant Evangelical groups then seized this opportunity to their advantage.
Perhaps it was this double evangelical and conservative impulse that brought Fabricio Alvarado, the only representative of the small ultra-conservative party Restauración Nacional, unexpected fame. After giving up his seat in parliament for the election campaign, he became famous for his homophobic insults and reactionary attitudes.
The crucial importance of the issue of gay marriage during the election campaign had two major implications: Already in mid-February 2018, only one week after the first round of voting, the Mediator of the Republic (Ombudsman) noted a “disproportionate increase” in physical and verbal attacks on LGBTQI persons. More importantly, however, the Costa Ricans ended up voting mostly gay-friendly on the basis of their inner convictions.
“What unites us is much stronger than what separates us,” Alvarado said during the election campaign. Until recently, the future president had been minister of employment in the cabinet of acting president Luis Guillermo Solís, who, by constitution, may not hold a second term in succession.
Interestingly, the two presidential candidates’ vitas show two more similarities in addition to their common surnames: Both were journalists and singers before – they even recorded songs: Rock for Carlos, religious songs for Fabricio.
Frank-S / MensGo