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Liberal and conservative ideologies clashed in first official presidential debate


January 6th, 2014 ( Liberal and conservative ideologies clashed over issues such as abortion, religion, and free trade during the first of two debates nationally televised between presidential candidates sponsored by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) last night.


Otto Guevara (Movimiento Libertario), and evangelical pastor Carlos Avendaño (Restauración Nacional) both stressed their total opposition to the possibility of legalized abortion in Costa Rica.


In contrast, Hector Monestel of the leftist Workers Party advocated for the right of women to “make choices regarding their own bodies,” and also spoke in favor of gay marriage and the right to allow gays to adopt children.


Luis Guillermo Solís (Citizen Action Party, PAC), said he supports gay marriage but spoke out against abortion.  Solís also said that he supports a secular, non-denominational state, but stressed that a secular state “is not the same as an atheist state.”  Costa Rica’s constitution currently defines the country as officially Catholic, though it respects the rights of other religions to practice freely.


Last night’s debate included Guevara, Avendaño, Monestel, and Solís, as well as candidates José Miguel Corrales (Patria Nueva) and Walter Muñoz (National Integration Party).


The remaining seven candidates, Rodolfo Piza, Johnny Araya, José María Villalta, Sergio Mena, José Manuel Echandi, Oscar Lopez and Justo Orozco will debate tonight on similar topics.


Clashes of ideology


The candidates also demonstrated their opposing ideologies in regards to the role of the state during last night’s debate.


On one extreme, Monestel advocated the repealing of all free trade agreements and disowning the country’s foreign debt.


“I ask the workers to vote for workers, not to vote for entrepreneurs and employers – this is the first time that Costa Rica has the opportunity to have a workers’ government,” Monestel said.


Meanwhile, Guevara said that Costa Rica’s public health system (CCSS) should outsource more to private companies in order to reduce waiting times, and promoted the end to state alcohol production.


Walter Munoz complained about the unfairness of the country’s electoral laws, which he described as being against small parties, both in funding and media access.


The debate comes less than a month before the country’s presidential elections on February 2nd.

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