CAFTA Influences Costa Rican Election

Costa Rican electoral officials began a recount on Tuesday to determine the winner of a presidential race in which the two candidates were separated by a mere .3 percent with most of the polling places counted.

Former President Oscar Arias had 40.5 percent of Sunday’s vote compared to 40.2 percent for Otton Solis, with votes from 88 percent of the polling places counted.

One of the main issues of the campaign has been the Central American Free Trade Agreement. Costa Rica has yet to ratify the trade pact. Arias supports the trade pact, while Solis opposes it.

Workers have staged strikes and protests against CAFTA, which would deregulate the country’s telecom and electrical industries.

"Even if Arias wins, it is still bad news for CAFTA because Costa Ricans said, ‘Hold on, this is something we have to look at,’" said Michael Lettieri of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs think tank in Washington.