Costa Rican presidential candidate blasts ecologists, says he would bring mining back – by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud ( – January 17, 2018)

Presidential candidate for the conservative National Integration Party (PIN in Spanish), Diego Castro, caused controversy in Costa Rica after he called environmentalist groups “eco-terrorists.”

Castro, who has been compared by local media to Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte, as well as accused of right-wing populism, said that if he wins the election, he would not yield to ecologists’ “petty demands” and would allow for the country’s oil and gold reserves to be exploited. “I know who they are, I’ve dealt with them and I’ve stopped them,” he said.

Costa Rica has a moratorium on fossil fuels extraction, which expires in 2021. The legal measure was enacted by former president Laura Chinchilla and ratified by her successor Luis Guillermo Solís. Congress also banned open-pit mining operations.

“We are going to protect and preserve the environment, we are going to rebuild what we have destroyed, but we are going to boost the country’s development and productivity without any kind of fear, as developed countries do,” Castro, who held positions as Minister of Public Safety and Minister of Justice in the 1990s, stated while participating in an agro-industry forum with other four presidential hopefuls.

Interviewed by La Nación -a local newspaper that was also deemed by Castro as “criminal”- spokesperson for environmental organization Neotrópica, Bernardo Aguilar, said that if the PIN candidate plans to cancel the moratorium before its deadline, he would have to face a series of legal challenges linked to the environmental regression such a move would imply.

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