Rodrigo Chaves Robles
|49th President of Costa Rica|
|Assumed office |
8 May 2022
|Vice President||Stephan Brunner|
|Preceded by||Carlos Alvarado Quesada|
|Minister of Finance|
30 October 2019 – 28 May 2020
|President||Carlos Alvarado Quesada|
|Preceded by||Rocío Aguilar Montoya|
|Succeeded by||Elián Villegas Valverde|
Rodrigo Alberto de Jesús Chaves Robles
10 June 1961
San José, Costa Rica
|Political party||PPSD (2020–present)|
Monika Hempel Nanne
(m. 1986; div. 1996)
|Children||Isabella Chaves Zeicate|
|Alma mater||University of Costa Rica (no degree)|
Ohio State University (BS, MA, PhD)
Rodrigo Alberto de Jesús Chaves Robles (Spanish pronunciation: [roˈðɾiɣo ˈtʃaβes ˈroβles]; born 10 June 1961) is a Costa Rican politician and economist who has served as the 49th and current President of Costa Rica since May 2022. He was previously Minister of Finance from 2019 to 2020 during the presidency of Carlos Alvarado Quesada.
Chaves Robles was born in the metropolitan district of Carmen, in the central canton of San José, on 10 June 1961. He obtained a B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Ohio State University. Before his appointment as minister, he worked as the World Bank country director for Indonesia and countries of America, Europe and Asia.
In 1992, before completing his Ph.D., the Institute for International Development at Harvard University offered him a four-month fellowship to conduct field research on poverty, rural poverty, microenterprise, and medium enterprise in Indonesia. When he finished his doctorate, the World Bank offered him a job for the publication of his research.
Chaves announced that he made the decision to retire as a World Bank official and return to Costa Rica because he considered that if he had requested a leave of absence, there could be a conflict of interest due to the conversations he had to have with that organization as part of his ministerial management. However, in August 2021, when the results of an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against Chaves were made public, it was reported that it could be the reason for his resignation from the World Bank. The World Bank's administrative tribunal noted that an internal investigation found that from 2008 to 2013, Chaves made unwelcome comments about physical appearance, repeated sexual innuendo and unwelcome sexual advances toward multiple bank employees. Those details were repeated by the bank's human resources department in a letter to Chaves, but it decided to sanction him for misconduct rather than sexual harassment. Chaves denied all accusations of sexual harassment.
Minister of Finance
The president of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, announced Chaves as the new Minister of Finance on 30 October 2019; however, it was not until 26 November of that year that he took office and indicated that his priorities would be to ensure compliance with fiscal laws, increase the collection of existing taxes, combat tax evasion and continue with the containment of public spending.
During that same month, Chaves made changes in the hierarchies of the institution, for which the deputy minister of income, Vladimir Villalobos González, resigned; the General Director of Taxation, Carlos Vargas Durán, the General Director of Customs, Juan Carlos Gómez Sánchez, and the director of the Fiscal Police, Irving Malespín Muñoz, also tendered their resignations.
On 26 March 2020, during the health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chaves announced to the media a proposal to collect a solidarity tax on public and private wages in excess of 500,000 colones in order to obtain resources to support people whose contract had been suspended, their working hours had been reduced, or they were left without work as a result of the measures adopted by the Government to stop contagion. After criticism from some sectors, Alvarado ruled out such an idea. The Minister of Communication, Nancy Marín, told the press that: "The President has been clear that Mr. Rodrigo should not have made that announcement. It was never contemplated that it go to salaries of 500,000 colones. The minister should not have made that announcement. [It was not a decision made] in the terms in which he presented it."
On 22 April 2020, the director of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), Mario Devandas, publicly denounced that the Minister of Finance had said in a meeting in which Alvarado participated that "nothing could be done to save the Fund, because the country could not go bankrupt to save it".
On 19 May 2020, Chaves published a letter asking Alvarado to veto the law approved that day by Congress that excluded municipalities from the fiscal rule created by Law 9635. Alvarado refused and Chaves responded by submitting his resignation.
2022 Costa Rican general election
In July 2021 Rodrigo Chaves announced his candidacy for the Presidency of the Republic of Costa Rica.
As part of his campaign, the Chaves-led Social Democratic Progress Party sought to combat corruption by punishing those who do not report acts of misconduct. Chaves stated he was in favor of transparency between the government and the press, universities and citizens, and that he planned to foster it through a daily report of the activities carried out by public institutions. His plan regarding unemployment involved encouraging more women to join the workforce and to raise the number of STEM graduates in response to the growing demand. He also supported bilingual education and promised to welcome foreign businesses to Costa Rica. To top off his campaign, he proposed a five-step plan to lower the cost of living. The five step plan involved removing taxes from basic food and household items, lowering the price of rice, lowering the price of electricity, eliminating monopolies and supporting farmers to import more efficient agrochemicals. He also said that he did not support mandatory COVID-19 vaccination.
Reuters reported that Chaves had carved out an anti-establishment reputation. Rotsay Rosales, a political scientist and head of the National Policy Observatory of the University of Costa Rica, said, "Chaves has a liberal economic position, is socially conservative, pro-law and order and against the political class."
On the night of 6 February, it was announced that Rodrigo Chaves was to face former president José María Figueres Olsen of the PLN party, in a second electoral round to be held on 3 April. Several polls for the second round placed Chaves in first place ahead of Figures. On 3 April, Chaves' victory over Figueres was announced by the press. Speaking to supporters in San José, Chaves said he accepted his victory with humility, and urged Figueres to help him move the country forward. Figueres quickly conceded defeat after results came in, telling supporters: "I congratulate Rodrigo Chaves, and I wish him the best." On Twitter, incumbent president Carlos Alvarado Quesada said he had called to congratulate Chaves and pledged an orderly handover of power.
Chaves took office on 8 May 2022 and became the 49th president of Costa Rica He was sworn in with a Bible in his hand and stated in his inaugural speech that "the fear of God is the basis of a ruler's wisdom"..
Cyber attack on Costa Rican government
After a month - starting on April 17 - of crippling ransomware attacks against the former government and its replacement, newly-elected President Chaves declared a state of emergency, in order to deal with the cyber attacks. The declaration said the attacks were "unprecedented in the country" and that it interrupted the country's tax collection and exposed citizens’ personal information. Leon Weinstok, the director of the Costa Rica office of the law firm BLP, who specializes in cybersecurity law, said the attacks had severely affected the country's ability to function. The Russian-speaking Conti gang had claimed responsibility for the cyber attacks. The US state department had in response offered a $10m reward for information leading to the identification or location of Conti leaders.
Chaves eliminated pandemic-related obligatory use of masks in public spaces and issued a decree that urged public institutions not to sanction officials who had not been vaccinated against COVID-19, reversing his predecessor's policy. He also promised there would be an investigation into the contracts signed by the previous government.
Believing that the fight against global warming is not a priority, he refuses to ratify the Escazú agreement, in order to "reassure the private sector." The agreement, drafted in 2018, endorsed the right of access to information of citizens on environmental issues and their participation in relevant decision-making. He also announced that he wanted to revive the exploitation of mining, gas and oil resources.
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- "Rodrigo Chaves: Costa Rica no puede volver a los mismos partidos; indecisos van con nosotros". telediario.cr (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 7 February 2022. Retrieved 6 February 2022.
- "AEDE Alums Robert M. McClelland, Dr. Rodrigo A. Chaves and Joseph A. Shultz to be Honored by the CFAES Alumni Society". Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 5 May 2022.
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- Romero, Fernanda. "Columbia - Presidente desautoriza propuesta de Ministro de Hacienda de crear impuesto solidario a salarios de ₡500 mil". www.columbia.co.cr (in European Spanish). Retrieved 2 August 2020.
- Gómez, Tomás (27 March 2020). "Gobierno reconoce que sí valora impuesto "solidario" a salarios de más de un millón". El Observador CR (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 August 2020.
- Elpais.cr (23 April 2020). "Costa Rica no puede quebrar para salvar a la CCSS de crisis financiera, advirtió ministro de Hacienda". Diario Digital Nuestro País (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 1 June 2020. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
- "Ministro de Hacienda será operado de apendicitis". CRHoy.com (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 8 June 2020. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
- "Exministro de Hacienda, Rodrigo Chaves, lanza su candidatura a la presidencia". delfino.cr (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 8 February 2022. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
- "Regressive Wave for Women in Central America". WOLA. Archived from the original on 28 April 2023.
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- "Ex-president heads into Costa Rica run-off, ex-finance minister likely awaits". Reuters. 7 February 2022. Archived from the original on 6 February 2022. Retrieved 22 March 2022.
- "Resultados Electorales 2022". www.tse.go.cr. Archived from the original on 8 February 2022. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
- Alessandro Solis (3 March 2022). "Costa Rica 2022 Election Update: Chaves Surpasses Figueres in the Polls". Outlier Legal Services. Archived from the original on 18 April 2022. Retrieved 22 March 2022.
- "Rodrigo Chaves gana la presidencia y deja al PLN en coma". Archived from the original on 4 April 2022. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
- Oré, Diego; Murillo, Alvaro (4 April 2022). "Costa Rica elects maverick Chaves as president in break with establishment". Reuters. Archived from the original on 11 April 2022. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
- "Rodrigo Chaves Pronounced Winner of the 2022 Elections in Costa Rica". EntornoInteligente (in Spanish). 4 April 2022. Archived from the original on 4 April 2022. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
- "Costa Rica declares state of emergency following Russian-speaking criminal 'cyber terrorism'". Sky News. Archived from the original on 13 May 2022. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
- Collier, Kevin (11 May 2022). "Costa Rica declares state of emergency over ransomware attack". NBC News. Archived from the original on 13 May 2022. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
- José, AP in San (12 May 2022). "Costa Rica declares national emergency amid ransomware attacks". the Guardian. Archived from the original on 13 May 2022. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
- "Costa Rica elimina obligatoriedad de vacuna anticovid e investigará compras". Swissinfo.ch (in Spanish). 3 August 2022. Archived from the original on 11 August 2022. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
- "Retrocede Costa Rica en su política ambiental?: Presidente electo no ratificará el Acuerdo de Escazú". 4 May 2022. Archived from the original on 15 August 2022. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
- Biography by CIDOB (in Spanish)