President-elect Chooses Free Trade Over Democracy

Oscar Arias, Costa Rica’s president-elect, has vowed to do everything in his power to push CAFTA through Congress despite widespread public opposition.

"You should not have the least doubt that in this, we will not cede," said Arias, who won the election by a mere 1.1 percent against a candidate who ran on an anti-CAFTA platform.

The Bush administration breathed a sigh of relief with Arias’ narrow victory and it is hoped that he "can be a counterbalance against leftist movements springing up in South America."

CAFTA opponents from different sectors of civil society have promised strikes and protests against the largely unpopular trade agreement.

"We are going to follow the strategy of the referendum of the streets," said Albino Vargas, leader of the main public employees’ union.