Laura Chinchilla sworn in as Costa Rica’s 1st female president, replaces Nobel laureate Arias

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Costa Rica inaugurates new President Chinchilla

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Adios, peace prize winner. Hola, first female president.

Costa Rica inaugurated Laura Chinchilla as its first woman leader on Saturday, replacing Nobel laureate Oscar Arias with his former vice president and protege. She promises to pursue the same economic policies that recently brought the country into a trade pact with the U.S. and opened commerce with China.

Elected in a landslide, Chinchilla has also vowed to expand the pristine parks and reserves that make this Central American nation first in the world for land protection.

The fifth Latin American woman to be elected president, Chinchilla takes office in a decent economic climate despite the world economic crisis, thanks to policies enacted by Arias that helped insulate Costa Rica.

Chinchilla, a 51-year-old Georgetown University graduate, is a social conservative who opposes abortion and gay marriage. She appealed both to Costa Ricans seeking a fresh face and those reluctant to risk the unknown.

Her inauguration was attended by dignitaries including the presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador and Georgia. She hugged and kissed her husband, parents and 14-year-old son during the ceremony.

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