Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Óscar Arias Sánchez
His presidential term focused on promoting a neoliberal economic model, dismantling social democratic institutions, requiring licensing of the press which was condemned by the Inter-American Human Rights Court, shifting exports from Costa Rica's traditional cash-crops (bananas, coffee) to non-traditional ones (e.g. exotic flowers and fruits), and placing more emphasis on tourism as an income source.
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Arias in 1987 for his work towards the signing of the Esquipulas II Accords. This was a plan to promote democracy and peace on the Central American isthmus during a time of great turmoil and outside influence in the midst of the Cold War. Although Arias was accused by some of attempting to undermine the Nicaraguan government by refusing to recognize the legitimacy of its government and supposedly ignoring violations of the Esquipulas Peace Agreement by enemies of Nicaraguan's government, none of this was ever proven to be true.
He called for a higher level of integration in the Central America region and promoted the creation of the Central American Parliament (Parlamento Centroamericano). To date, the only Central American country that has not yet signed the treaty is Costa Rica. His period in office has been negatively criticized because of these efforts.
Arias also modified the country's educational system. The most notable action in this respect was the reintroduction of compulsory academic tests at the end of primary school and high school. These measures have been the topic of much debate in the country ever since.
In 2004 he announced his plans to run for President again in the February 2006 general elections, and is currently considered the front runner.
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