COSTA RICA: In a surprising turn in the presidential election campaign, both Jose Maria Villalta of the Wide Front party and Otto Guevara of the Libertarian Movement both came out in support for medical marijuana legalization in a debate at National University in Heredia.
The debate was organized by the Voto CR project but only those two candidates attended. The surprise came in the fact that this country is a conservative one and a certain political risk attends the issue prior to the elections.
But a second glance shows it is not so surprising. Villalta is a liberal and Guavara, as a Liberatarian, favoring few government controls. Also surprising was that the other candidates should be so shy when confronted with an opportunity for exposure — Social Christian Unity candidate Rodolfo Hernandez and Partria Nueva party’s Jose Miguel Corrales sent last minute cancellations to attend the event.
Answering a question from the audience, Guevara said he had no problem including legalization in his governmental plan. Indeed, he said, a tax on pot could easily bring in more revenue.
Villalta agreed that marijuana had been proven to have medical benefits and backed legal cultivation to sell to the Social Security system (Caja). He added that the “war on drugs has proven an absolute failure.”
During the debate, Guevara and Villalta clashed most sharply on the issue of ICE and private power. Villalta wants to “fortify” ICE, the government owned electrical monopoly, while Guevara would like to see no limits on the production and sale of electricity.
As for curing the Caja’s economic troubles, Guevara pleaded that the audience lose its fear of buying private services to cut down on long waiting lists for medical care. Villalta views this as a ploy to benefit politicians and damaging for the Caja.
Villalta is also for maintaining the current system of controlling the colon value against the dollar while Guevara favors dollarization.
But both politicians favored more citizen voice in making government decisions, whether through referendums or town meetings.