CIPR | Center For Inter-American Policy & Research

Tulane University

Two seminars held by CIAPA in Costa Rica

February 24th, 2016

Two important seminars were held on the CIAPA campus in Costa Rica last December and January. The first event, held jointly with the Academia de Centroamérica, focused on Costa Rica’s economic development model, examining the merits and challenges of the outwardly oriented export paradigm the country has followed over the last few decades. The second event featured expert Dr. José Ignacio Torreblanca, of the European Council on Foreign Relations and columnist for El Pais, who spoke on the Spanish December elections and the rise of populism.

The joint seminar with the Academia de Centroamérica brought together economists, political scientists, a former president of Costa Rica, and long-time former president of the Central Bank, Dr. Eduardo Lizano. The event recognized that while the country’s current development had increased productivity and contributed to economic growth, launching it had required costly incentives that had benefited particular sectors. Its focus on foreign direct investment in highly technical sectors had also benefited skilled much more than unskilled labor, and had generated insufficient backward linkages in the supply chain. A successor model should focus incentives on improving productivity and fostering innovation, thereby increasing the country’s competitiveness. Those businesses benefiting from incentives should also bear some of the costs.

Dr. Torreblanca analyzed the structural factors that help explain the transformation of Spain’s party system towards multipartism, including the exhaustion of the country’s 1978 foundational pact in the transition to democracy, but also the recent economic crisis and its consequences, such as the rise of the “Indignados”. He then gave a detailed analysis of the rise of Podemos, including its populist narrative and its intensive use of the media, characterized by a binary rhetoric dividing the world into “the people”, on one side, and the privileged “caste”, on the other. Dr. Torreblanca drew on his recent book Asaltar los Cielos. Podemos o la política después de la crisis (Editorial Debate, 2015). He ended by delineating potential scenarios with an emphasis on the likelihood of general elections in May.