Laura Chinchilla

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Laura Chinchilla
Laura 4.jpg
46th President of Costa Rica
In office
8 May 2010 – 8 May 2014
Vice PresidentAlfio Piva
Luis Liberman
Preceded byÓscar Arias
Succeeded byLuis Guillermo Solís
First Vice President of Costa Rica
In office
8 May 2006 – 8 October 2008
PresidentÓscar Arias
Preceded byLineth Saborío Chaverri
Succeeded byAlfio Piva
President pro tempore of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States
In office
January 28, 2014 – May 8, 2014
Preceded byRaúl Castro
Succeeded byLuis Guillermo Solís
Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica
In office
May 1, 2002 – April 30, 2006
Preceded byGuido Monge Fernández
Succeeded byEvita Arguedas Maklouf
ConstituencySan José (13th Office)
Personal details
Laura Chinchilla Miranda

(1959-03-28) 28 March 1959 (age 62)
San José, Costa Rica
Political partyNational Liberation Party
  • Mario Alberto Madrigal Díaz
    (m. 1982; div. 1985)
  • (m. 2000; died 2019)
Alma mater

Laura Chinchilla Miranda (Spanish: [ˈlawɾa tʃinˈtʃiɟa miˈɾanda]; born 28 March 1959[1]) is a Costa Rican politician who was President of Costa Rica from 2010 to 2014. She was one of Óscar Arias Sánchez's two Vice-Presidents and his administration's Minister of Justice.[2] She was the governing PLN candidate for president in the 2010 general election, where she won with 46.76% of the vote on 7 February.[3] She was the eighth woman president of a Latin American country and the first woman to become President of Costa Rica.[4] She was sworn in as President of Costa Rica on May 8, 2010.[5][6]

She currently teaches at Georgetown University[7] and is co-chair of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank and the vice-president of Club de Madrid. Chinchilla previously served as a Fellow at the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Chinchilla was born in Carmen Central, San José in 1959. She is the daughter of Rafael Ángel Chinchilla Fallas, a former comptroller of Costa Rica,[4] and Emilce Miranda Castillo. She married Mario Alberto Madrigal Díaz on 23 January 1982 and divorced on 22 May 1985.

Chinchilla met her second husband, José María Rico Cueto, a Spanish lawyer who held Canadian citizenship, in 1990 while both were working as consultants for the Center for the Administration of Justice at the University of Florida in Miami, Florida.[9] The couple had a son, José María Rico Chinchilla, in 1996. Chinchilla married Rico on 26 March 2000.[10] She was widowed on April 15, 2019, when her husband José María Rico died due to Alzheimer's.

Political career[edit]

Chinchilla graduated from the University of Costa Rica and received her master's degree in public policy from Georgetown University.[11][12] Prior to entering politics, Chinchilla worked as an NGO consultant in Latin America and Africa, specializing in judicial reform and public security issues. She went on to serve in the José María Figueres Olsen administration as vice-minister for public security (1994–1996) and minister of public security (1996–1998). From 2002 to 2006, she served in the National Assembly as a deputy for the province of San José.[13]

Chinchilla was one of two vice-presidents elected under the second Arias administration (2006–2010). She resigned the vice-presidency in 2008 in order to prepare her run for the presidency in 2010. On 7 June 2009 she won the Partido Liberación Nacional (PLN) primary with a 15% margin over her nearest rival, and was thus endorsed as the party's presidential candidate.

Chinchilla led the Observation Mission deployed by the OAS to Mexico to observe the June 2015 federal election, as well as the Observation Electoral Mission during the 2016 elections in the US, and the electoral process in Brazil[14] and in Paraguay[15] in 2018.

Laura Chinchilla.


Chinchilla's Partido Liberación Nacional is a member of the Socialist International,[16] whose motto is the promotion of "progressive politics for a better world."

The British Foreign and Commonwealth minister with responsibility for Central America, Baroness Kinnock, applauded Chinchilla's election as the first female President of Costa Rica. Kinnock also praised Chinchilla for stating her continued support for the forward thinking approach by the previous government in working to combat climate change and said that the UK would continue to work with Costa Rica on this important issue in 2010.[17]

She was expected to give continuity to the previous government's pro-free trade policies. She is considered a social conservative.[18] She opposes gay marriage, but has stated publicly the need for a legal frame to provide fundamental rights to same-sex couples.[19] She supports maintaining the country's prohibition of abortion under most circumstances.[20]

Chinchilla's political platform emphasized anti-crime legislation in response to Costa Rica's growing concerns over safety. In 2010, the year in which Laura Chinchilla was elected president of Costa Rica, the country observed a high crime rate in practically all crimes, which contributed to deteriorating the perception of the state as guarantor of justice and security.[21]

Added to this was the economic insecurity caused by the international crisis of 2007 and 2008 that had hit the Costa Rican economy. Attending these circumstances, Chinchilla structured a government plan based on human security and with a comprehensive security approach,[22] which contemplated four key components:

  • Economic security and competitiveness.
  • Social security and welfare.
  • Citizen security and social peace.
  • Environmental security and development.

At the end of her term, the main achievements were:

The recovery of the economy from the effects of the international crisis of 2007–2008, which grew between 2010 and 2013, at an average rate of 4.4%, growth that has remained constant in recent years according to data from ECLAC,[23] this along with an improvement in the country's competitiveness indexes, according to the World Economic Forum[24] and the World Bank,[25] as well as the beginning of the process of incorporating Costa Rica into the OECD.[26]

In social matters, priority was given to the promotion of a comprehensive strategy for early childhood care. Her government developed a network of care centers with public-private partnerships, that benefit the children, as well as their mothers who aspire to enter the labor market. This program was recognized by international organizations.[27]

Regarding the issue of security, after conducting a citizen consultation, the Citizen Security and Social Peace Policy (POLSEPAZ) was designed,[28] defining the main strategic lines of action and the need to promote a comprehensive, sustainable and State policy on the matter.

With the implementation of this strategy and the prevention, control, and sanctions activities that were carried out, it was possible to contain the growth that criminality had been experiencing, and decrease homicide rates,[29] as well as intentional homicides against women, most of which are associated with domestic violence or femicide. They fell between 2010 and 2013 by nearly 70%.[30]

The government sustainability variable was expressed in the promotion of policies for the generation of clean energy which allowed that at the end of her period it exceeded 90% of electricity generation from renewable sources.[31]

Equal importance was given to the protection of the seas, through the extension of marine protection zones and a strong fight against shark finning,[32] all of which meant international recognition for the efforts made in sustainability.[33]

In 2013, however, the Mexican opinion poll firm Consulta Mitofsky released a survey that placed Chinchilla as the least popular president in Latin America with a 13% approval rate, just behind Porfirio Lobo of Honduras.[34]

At the end of its presidency, Costa Rica is in economic difficulties. Public debt has reached 50% of gdP, unemployment is steadily rising and, despite high annual growth, 20% of the population lives below the poverty line.[35]


During her tenure, improvements were made in security, and the homicide rate, originally 10 for every [1] 100,000 inhabitants, dropped significantly [2]. The WHO had the once high figure a “social pandemic” and it has fluctuated greatly in years prior. [3]


Education became one Chinchilla's greatest priorities. She moved into action Article 78 of Costa Rica’s Constitution, The Strengthening Education Effort, whereby the government must allocate 8% of its funding toward education.[4] During her tenure the actual figure reached 7.2%, the highest of any country in the region.[5]

The Juan Rafael Mora Porras Road affair[edit]

In October 2010, Nicaraguan forces occupied islands in the San Juan River delta. The land is claimed by the Nicaraguan and Costa Rican governments. Some observers opined that the Nicaraguan action was probably connected with President Daniel Ortega's reelection campaign.[36] The Costa Rican government reacted to the Nicaraguan action. Costa Rica sought to place the case before the International Court of Justice. By mid-2011, President Chinchilla decided to build a road along the river, as a response to what she and her government saw as a Nicaraguan invasion of Costa Rican territory. In Spanish Name of the Road The road was officially named “Ruta 1858, Juan Rafael Mora Porras” to honor a Costa Rican hero, who led the country in the fight in Nicaragua and Costa Rica against the forces of William Walker, who had proclaimed himself as president of Nicaragua, and wanted to restore slavery in Central America.

The road was to stretch more than 150 km. A decree of emergency allowed the government to waive environmental regulations and oversight from the General Comptroller (Contraloria General de la Republica). Neither environmental nor engineering studies were conducted before the road was announced. There were accusations of mismanagement and corruption. The Ministerio Publico (Costa Rican attorney general) announced an official inquiry about the charges of corruption. Francisco Jiménez, minister of public works and transportation was dismissed by Chinchilla as a consequence of the affair Minister dismissed by Chinchilla (in Spanish).

Views on society[edit]

Chinchilla developed and signed the National Network of Care Act which works to provide care and assistance to children and the elderly.[37]

Chinchilla opposes any amendment of the constitution aimed at separation of church and state in Costa Rica. The constitution currently defines the Republic of Costa Rica as a Roman Catholic nation.[38] Her position contrasts with that of former President Óscar Arias Sánchez, who supports establishing a secular state.[39]

She is against legalizing the morning-after pill, which is banned in Costa Rica.[40]

Chinchilla has stated that while she supports LGBT rights and opposes discrimination based on sexual orientation, she believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and because of that she supports a different legal framework for same-sex couples. She signed into law on 4 July 2013 new legislation supporting civil partnerships that can be extended to same-sex unions.[41][42] She also stated that she would not oppose same-sex marriage if it was legalized by the country's courts.[43]

Environmental protection and sustainability is very important for the President, and she continues Costa Rica's level of leadership in these areas, for example, in May 2011 she declared the film Odyssey 2050 of 'Public and Cultural Interest'.[44]

In 2016, Chinchilla was considered one of the most powerful women in Central America according to the World Economic Forum.[45]

Post-politics career[edit]

Chinchilla currently teaches at Georgetown University[7] at the Institute of Politics and Public Service and is also the titular of the Cathedra José Bonifácio, at the University of São Paulo, since 2018,[46] and leads the Latin American Chair of Citizenship in the School of Government and Public Transformation of the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education.[47]

Since 2016, Chinchilla has been serving as the president of the Advisory Council of She Works, a company focused on the empowerment of women;[48] and is also a rapporteur for the freedom of expression of the Telecommunications Organization of Latin America.

In 2019, Chinchilla served on the advisory board of the annual Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), co-chaired by Thomas Piketty and Tharman Shanmugaratnam.[49] In 2020, she was her country's candidate to head the Washington-based Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).[50] Shortly before the vote, she dropped her bid, criticizing a process seen favoring U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominee Mauricio Claver-Carone.[51]

In additions, Chinchilla holds numerous other positions, including the following:

Awards and recognition[edit]

Chinchilla was awarded with the “Women of the Decade in Public Life and Leadership Award” at the Women Economic Forum in Amsterdam.[61] She holds Honorary Doctorates from the University for Peace of the United Nations,[62] Georgetown University,[63] and Kyoto University of Foreign Studies.[64]


She has several publications, in Spanish and English -books, monographs and articles- on issues related to the administration of justice, citizen security, and police reform. Among the most prominent are:

  • Community Crime Prevention, Center for the Administration of Citizen Security Justice in Latin America, Siglo XXI Editors (2002).
  • Police Reforms in Latin America, Open Society Institute (2006).
  • Seguridad Ciudadana en América Latina y el Caribe. Laura Chinchilla and Doreen Vorndran. BID (2018).
  • Unfulfilled Promises. Latin America Today The InterAmerican Dialogue (2019).

In popular culture[edit]

The 2012 song "Wonderful Journey" by Japanese group Sakura Gakuin mentions that the then President of Costa Rica shares her name with then member Raura Iida, since the Japanese pronunciations of both names are identical.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ de Miguel, Veronica (14 August 2012). "Laura Chinchilla: Is honesty enough for Costa Rica?". VOXXI. Archived from the original on 5 February 2013. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  2. ^ "Chiefs of State and Cabinet members of Foreign Governments". The Central Intelligence Agency of America. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  3. ^ "2010 Presidential election results" (in Spanish). Supreme Court of Elections. 8 February 2010. Archived from the original on 25 February 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Costa Rica to inaugurate first female president Saturday". Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones, República de Costa Rica. 2010-05-06. Archived from the original on 2010-05-09. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Skard, Torild (2014) "Laura Chinchilla" in Women of power - Half a century of female presidents and prime ministers worldwide, Bristol: Policy Press ISBN 978-1-44731-578-0, pp. 238-40
  7. ^ a b "Laura Chinchilla - GU Politics". Retrieved 2016-10-04.
  8. ^ "Laura Chinchilla (GRD '89)". Institute of Politics and Public Service. Retrieved 2021-04-20.
  9. ^ Láscarez, Carlos (2019-04-15). "Muere José María Rico, esposo de la expresidenta Laura Chinchilla". La Nación (San José). Archived from the original on 2019-04-16. Retrieved 2019-04-21.
  10. ^ "Costa Rican electoral register (name search)". Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones, República de Costa Rica. 8 May 2010. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
  11. ^ "Costa Rica elects first female president, Georgetown grad Laura Chinchilla". Vox Populi, Georgetown's blog of record. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  12. ^ "Costa Rica elects first woman president, inspiring the region". The Christian Science Monitor. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  13. ^ "Laura Chinchilla Miranda's curriculum vitae on her Facebook page". Laura Chinchilla Miranda. Retrieved 2010-05-09.
  14. ^ "Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (EOM/OAS)". Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  15. ^ OAS (2009-08-01). "OAS - Organization of American States: Democracy for peace, security, and development". Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  16. ^ "Socialist International Members". Socialist International. Retrieved February 22, 2010.
  17. ^ "Costa Rican Presidential elections". UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 10 February 2010. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  18. ^ Marín, Karmentxu (23 May 2010). "Todos rosarios". El País. Retrieved June 8, 2010.
  19. ^ "2009 Presidential campaign-YouTube".
  20. ^ Malkin, Elisabeth (8 February 2010). "Costa Rica: Female Leader Elected". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  21. ^ Padgett, Tim (2010-02-10). "Costa Rica's Generational and Gender Changes". Time. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  22. ^ "Plan de Gobierno Laura Chinchilla 2010-2014" (PDF) (in Spanish). Partido Liberación Nacional. 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-12-15. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  23. ^ "Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean" (PDF). Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. 2016. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  24. ^ "The Global Competitiveness Report 2011–2012" (PDF). World Economic Forum. 2012. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  25. ^ "Doing Business Economy Profile 2012: Costa Rica" (PDF). World Bank. 2012. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  26. ^ "Costa Rica's adherence to the Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 2013-09-30. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  27. ^ Guzmán, Juany (2014). "Red Nacional de Cuido y Desarrollo Infantil en Costa Rica. El proceso de construcción 2010-2014" (PDF). Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  28. ^ "Política Nacional Integral y Sostenible de Seguridad Ciudadana y Promoción de la Paz" (in Spanish). United Nations Development Programme. 2011. Archived from the original on 2017-10-06. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  29. ^ Kane, Corey (2014-04-14). "Honduras, Central America still lead the world in murder rates". The Tico Times. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  30. ^ Herrera, Manuel (2013-11-25). "Disminuyen los femicidios en Costa Rica durante el 2013". La Nación (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  31. ^ "Costa Rica: committed to renewable energy". The Costa Rica Star. 2012-10-13. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  32. ^ Ercolani, Steve (2012-10-19). "Fighting shark finning in Costa Rica". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  33. ^ Fendt, Lindsay (2013-11-28). "Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla named Shark Guardian of the Year". The Tico Times. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  34. ^ "Presidente Chinchilla en sótano de popularidad en América Latina"
  35. ^
  36. ^ Dredging up votes: Daniel Ortega and the swamps of opportunism The Economist Nov. 11, 2010
  37. ^
  38. ^ "No desde Costa Rica al aborto, Estado laico y matrimonios homosexuales" (in Spanish). 3 February 2010. Archived from the original on February 6, 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  39. ^ "Presidente Óscar Arias apoya reforma para declarar estado laico a Costa Rica". El Economista (in Spanish). 10 September 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  40. ^ Murillo, Álvaro (2 October 2009). "Una mujer de ordeno y mando". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  41. ^ Costa Rica abre la puerta a las uniones de hecho entre personas del mismo sexo, 6 July 2013, Dos Manzanas (Spanish)
  42. ^ Chinchilla firmó ley de la Persona Joven que oficializaría uniones gais, 3 November 2013, El País - Costa Rica (Spanish)
  43. ^ Chinchilla says she would not oppose legalization of gay marriage in Costa Rica, 17 May 2011, Tico Times
  44. ^ Garita, Mario (23 October 2011). "Costa Rican Animated Film Teaches About Climate Change". Odyssey 2050. Costa Rican News. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  45. ^ "Las 50 mujeres más poderosas de Centroamérica".
  46. ^ "Ex-presidente da Costa Rica assume a Cátedra José Bonifácio". Jornal da USP (in Portuguese). 2018-04-12. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  47. ^   
  48. ^ "About us - SheWorks!".
  49. ^ 2019 Human Development Report Advisory Board Members United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  50. ^ Michael Stott (March 4 2020), Latin America must curb inequality or risk decline, IADB chief warns Financial Times.
  51. ^ Alvaro Murillo (September 3, 2020), Ex-Costa Rican leader drops bid to lead Inter-American Development Bank Reuters.
  52. ^ Seven new Members join International IDEA’s Board of Advisers International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), press release of December 8, 2020.
  53. ^ Expert: Laura Chincilla Atlantic Council.
  54. ^ Laura Chinchilla Miranda [Club of Madrid]].
  55. ^ "Inter-American Dialogue | Laura Chinchilla". Retrieved 2016-10-04.
  56. ^ "President Laura Chinchilla and Ambassador Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. Selected as New Co-Chairs of the Inter-American Dialogue". The Dialogue. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  57. ^ "Ms Laura CHINCHILLA - Comité Olímpico Nacional de Costa Rica , IOC Member since 2019". International Olympic Committee. 2019-07-01. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  58. ^ "IOC membership expands to 105 as 10 new members elected - Xinhua |". Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  59. ^ "» Kofi Annan Foundation launches Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age". Kofi Annan Foundation. 2019-01-15. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  60. ^ "Digital Dangers to Democracy". Kofi Annan Foundation. 2019-01-28. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  61. ^ "Laura Chinchilla galardonada como "mujer de la década" |". | Periodico Digital | te=2019-10-22.
  62. ^ "For the first time, South America's UPEACE confers Doctor Honoris Causa on Indian leader". The Financial Express. 2019-03-09. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  63. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients". Governance. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  64. ^ "Features & Activities | ABOUT KYOTO UNIVERSITY OF FOREIGN STUDIES | Kyoto University of Foreign Studies". Retrieved 2019-10-22.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by President of Costa Rica
Succeeded by