Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Costa Rica fears Chavez' meddling with referendum

The Costa Rican government launched Tuesday night an official campaign to endorse by means of referendum a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States and warned against the potential meddling of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

"As a citizen and president, I decided already to say 'yes' to the FTA. I will do it not because it is faultless, but simply because it is good for most Costa Ricans," President Oscar Arias declared at the Congress, where he briefed on the first year of his presidential term, AFP reported.

Arias initially purported to approve the FTA at the Congress. However, the Elections Supreme Tribunal (TSE) ruled three weeks ago that the issue should be taken to a referendum in order to prevent clashes and violence.

Arias' presentation followed a speech by Mayi Antillon, the head of the parliamentarian section of ruling Partido de LiberaciĆ³n Nacional (PLN). Then, the official expressed outspokenly her fear about the potential funding by the Venezuelan government of a campaign in Costa Rica against the referendum.

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