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New Socialist Group (Canada)

Costa Rican election result hides complex reality

Laura Chinchilla.

By Elena Zeledon, Costa Rica

April 16, 2010 -- Costa Ricans have the highest standard of living in Central America including universal free education and health care and a social safety net of workers’ unemployment benefits and pensions that is the the envy of Central America. However, these hard-won gains are threatened by the capitalist crisis, the implementation of the Central American Free Trade Agreement and other pro-capitalist policies of the governing social democratic National Liberation Party. The NLP won re-election in February with Laura Chinchilla succeeding Oscar Arias as president. What does this mean? Will intensified attacks spark social struggles?

The reality of Costa Rican politics is always more complex than can be summed up in a few simple sentences. Such is the case when analysing the results of the February 7, 2010, election in Costa Rica.

Video: Boris Kagarlitsky on the left and labour in Russia under Putin

With Boris Kagarlitsky, Institute For Globalization and Social Movements, Moscow.

Since the collapse of the old Soviet Union in the 1990s and the end of the politically bankrupt regime of Boris Yeltsin in 2000, Vladimir Putin has consolidated power in Russia. He has ruled over an economy growing at about 7% per year, and, in Kagarlitsky's view, establishing Russia as an 'empire of the periphery'. The left and workers have faced enormous challenges in the new (and not so new) Russia in the face of massive economic restructuring and major political obstacles. This discussion will address how the left, workers and unions are attempting to re-group and respond to these challenges.

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