COSTA RICA is widely praised as the longest-running democracy in Latin America and has always been among the leading nations in the Economist’s Democracy Index. But earlier this year, our democracy was hit by a phenomenon that’s spreading around the world: the rise of extreme conservatism. The emergence of right-wing evangelical preacher Fabricio Alvarado as the leading candidate in the first round of voting last March gave us all a scare, even if he was soundly defeated by Carlos Alvarado of the Citizens’ Action Party in the final vote. (Yes, both candidates have the surname Alvarado.)
As radical right-wing politicians in the world usually do, the candidate of the Partido Restauración Nacional (National Restoration Party or NRP) stepped out of the shadows armed with a political discourse of hatred aimed at a particular minority: the LGBT community. Alvarado’s bigoted tone became even more shrill in reaction to a decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to approve the legality of same-sex marriage as proposed by the current Costa Rican government. This decision would also give transgender people the right to change their legal gender.
This vindication of LGBT rights became the fodder for Fabricio Alvarado’s ultra-conservative views to spread like wildfire.
Jorge Solano works as a consultant for the United Nations and as a freelance writer for newspapers in Costa Rica.