Exhibition of Weapons During Presidential Tour Sends Negative Message to the World

    That does not respond to the tradition of a pacifist country

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    The images of a few seconds where President Rodrigo Chaves is seen, surrounded by heavily armed escorts, has security implications, but also political, image and even economic ones.

    Although the president claimed that it is part of the protection they provide him due to the threats he has received; the experts consider that there is an important semiotic load that accompanies this scene.

    In general terms, they highlight that it does not respond to the country’s pacifist tradition, that it is directly related to Chaves’ leadership style, and that images of this type do not go unnoticed internationally.

    “From the point of view of political communication, what one does speaks louder than what one says. In this case, what President Chaves is stating with his actions is definitely communicating that there is a critical security situation for the country that is consistent with the statistics we have,” says Fanny Ramírez, an expert in political communication.

    The expert mentions that just as there has been a national impact, there is also an effect abroad. It would be projecting an image that could even have economic consequences.

    “For example, tourism is one of the main sources of income for the country. This, added to some events that have occurred in some specific areas that have been the focus of insecurity, comes, from the point of view of political communication, to underline a problematic situation in terms of security,” she mentioned.There is also the issue of a pacifist country brand that has even received a Nobel Peace Prize and now shows another face.

    Many years out of the country?

    Ramírez’s analysis also covers the presidential figure of Chaves.Seeing the weapons appear in this way on the scene -she said- collides with an idiosyncrasy and social values ​​such as peace. That is why she questioned whether the years that the president spent abroad have distanced him from that scheme.

    “A complete lack of knowledge is being manifested in the management of what are the values ​​of being Costa Rican. It seems to me that it has to do with all the time that President Chaves was in other countries,”.Added to this is the question of how the alleged high popularity of Chaves is related to the risks denounced.

    “If he is the president with the greatest popular support, how is it possible to receive so many threats?” she said. “Presidents who have been much more exposed to public opinion have not received this type of threat, so what is happening here, that history agrees with us. Who is handling those numbers then?”.

    Finally, she pointed out that there are also personal traces that come to light

    “It reveals some pathologies that we have already observed from the point of view of leadership, such as authoritarianism, populism and exacerbated egocentrism”.Another of the points analyzed by Fanny Ramírez is the situation. She states that it is necessary to review how the images with weapons appear at a time when, in theory, the presidential delegation was going through the incident of having lost an escort in the traffic accident suffered by the group of Vice President Stephan Brunner.

    Open doors to other discussions

    The analysis of the experts also emphasizes that in the midst of the debate that opened the issue of weapons, the debate is open to new security policies; where other sectors and institutions join.Ramírez and the analyst Kattia Benavides agree on this.

    “It is a very delicate message from the Presidency of the Republic. I hope that what these types of images generate is open to discussion by a comprehensive public policy on the issue of security,” Benavides noted.

    To this she added that the readings that can be generated by the images do not stop rubbing against the way of being Costa Rican.“On the one hand, we are not used to seeing armed public officials because we do not have an army and we have always had a peaceful environment. On the other, it generates concern due to the increase in crime and insecurity rates that the country currently faces”.

    The unexpected actor in the criticism of weapons

    The videos where the weapons appear had a key point and that was when the opinion of former president Óscar Arias appeared.The ex-president responded to a post on Twitter stating that the devices were repulsive and that the scene was not part of the Costa Rican idiosyncrasy.

    According to the political strategist IvánBarrantes, that intervention was a key turning point for the debate. Firstly, because of the role that Arias has at the political level and secondly, because the current administration does not always come up with responses at that level.

    “It strikes a chord in what we call the ‘correct messenger.’ He is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, he made the arms agreement, he is a guy who has the authority to say what he said,” he said.

    Barrantes insisted that although all the presidents have security teams, the problem this time was the display of weapons.He even compared the scene with the realities of other Central American countries where this type of equipment is more visible.

    Regarding the communication impact, he indicated that although the Government has had a “reality show” strategy based on ratings, with such a display “they went too far”, especially for having struck a chord with the country’s alleged pacifism.

    “It is a government that is built more on media leadership than on political leadership. This type of thing, videos, tiktoks and a lot of instruments are the daily bread there because they are assuming the construction of rating”.  Added to this came the presidential response, which in the opinion of the expert also had its tactical problems.

    “All the presidents of all the countries in the world receive daily threats, from some madman, from some dissatisfied. That’s what the intelligence services are for to rule out,” he said.

    “In a scenario where insecurity has taken control, it is not possible as Commander in Chief to say that there is a death threat and that is why he is armed; for what that can generate”, he continued.

    According to Barrantes, these types of scandals are the ones that can undermine the presidential popularity.Finally, it coincided with the other analyzes in that the production was far from the country’s cultural constructions.

    “Here there is a repellent regarding this issue, because an identity has been built in that sense, that it is a peaceful country. If that is true or not that is another story, but that is what has been built over time,” he concluded.

    As readers of TCRN, let us know your opinion on the matter, in our comments section.

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