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Costa Rica welcomes Laura Chinchilla, its first female president

May 10, 2010 | 10:33 am

Laura chinchilla ap On her first day on the job as Costa Rica's president, Laura Chinchilla signed three executive decrees, providing a glimpse into her policy priorities in her first 100 days in office. On Saturday, the first female head of state for the Central American nation signed decrees indefinitely banning open-pit gold-mining,  establishing an anti-drug commission, and  establishing a national elderly-care and infant development network, reports The Tico Times.

"We will work for a more innovative, more intelligent, more enterprising Costa Rica with a new economy encouraged by biotechnology, organic agriculture, the audiovisual industry and the aerospace and aviation industries, among others," Chinchilla said.

Photos of the Saturday inauguration at San Jose's La Sabana Metropolitan Park are here.

Chinchilla, 51, is a protege and former vice president of her predecessor, Oscar Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize-winner. Her term is expected to extend the open-market, green-minded policies of the social-democrat style National Liberation Party, or PLN.

Chinchilla is a graduate of Georgetown University, a career politician once divorced and now married to a Spanish lawyer, mother to a teenage son, and a social conservative. She opposes gay marriage and abortion.

Costa Rica flourished under Arias, who enacted policies that largely shielded the nation from the global economic downturn. The previous president also oversaw the expansion of environmental conservation efforts and eco-tourism in Costa Rica. (Could such policies be the reason Costa Ricans are known according to one study as "the happiest people" on Earth?)

Chinchilla is expected to keep the country on this track, the Associated Press reports: "In 2007, [Arias] set a goal for his country to be the first carbon-neutral country in the world by 2021, a goal Chinchilla supports."

Chinchilla's open-pit mining ban, however, overturns an Arias decision, notes Inside Costa Rica.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: Inauguration Day for Laura Chinchilla, first female president of Costa Rica. Credit: Associated Press / via BBC News

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