Religion has many purposes in the world; to some people, it brings peace, to others it brings support and explains some events in life that can’t be explained by other means. But religion can also function as a tool to promote hostile behaviors and ideologies “in the name of God.” The greatest example may be the way terrorist have twisted Islam, or how extreme conservative leaders have raised the homophobic flag simply because “God says it’s a sin.” This time, a homophobic bomb landed in Costa Rica’s ballot box, an evangelistic pastor named Fabricio Alvarado is winning the first round to be President in Costa Rica, and he is not hiding his intentions of keeping the country free from gay marriage.
Who is Fabricio Alvarado?
Fabricio is a politician, journalist, and Christian singer from Costa Rica. He is part of the conservative party Restauración Nacional (RN, translates to National Restauration) and according to the results of the first round for the presidential race in Costa Rica, he is winning by 3% of the votes.
Restauración Nacional is an openly Christian party representing the evangelist wing of Costa Rica since 1981. Most of its members are well-known pastors or Christian community leaders. They are against In Vitro Fertilization, cannabis legalization, gender theories, same-sex marriage and abortion because, according to their religious beliefs, they tear apart the concept of family as we know it, leading to our society’s damnation.
Alvarado hides behind the flag of a traditional family proposal and the defense of human values. If you get to see him on TV, you will notice that he behaves like a preacher. He walks slowly from one spot of the platform to another, he carries a bible and a crucifix, his speech is full of hate against diversity and he won’t say more than two sentences without mentioning God’s name.
How Did Alvarado Get There?
You may be wondering, exactly how this guy got to be in the presidential race. Well, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had to do a lot with it.
The votes for particular candidates are the popular expression of the people’s beliefs; if they vote for a candidate from a left party, they may want more rights for the poor and the working class, if they vote for a right-wing prospect, they may want more laws on immigration or a conservative ruling. If we apply this reasoning to what is happening today in Costa Rica, then we have a vast majority opposing to the world’s modernity.
A few weeks ago the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) approved same-sex marriage as a civil right and asked all governments of Latin America to legalize it. The decree was welcomed by many with joy, but some others completely opposed it, and, in Costa Rica’s scenario, since Fabricio Alvarado had already declared that he was against it, rapidly gained popularity among the conservatives that didn’t quite supported him at the beginning.
Two weeks before the first round, Fabricio Alvarado was losing by 10% against Carlos Alvarado, his opponent; but the decree turned these election statistics around so Alvarado is now ahead by 3%. Abstention numbers were also really high, 34% of Costa Ricans didn’t vote in this first round. It’s the second highest abstentionist number in the country’s history, the first place belongs to the 2014 elections, where 43% of the registered people didn’t vote.
The second round will take place on April 1st, and according to what we have seen in the latest debates, the same-sex marriage issue has been critical for both candidate’s support.
What if Fabricio Alvarado Wins the Elections in Costa Rica?
Fabricio Alvarado has already declared that, if he wins, he will fight against corruption, build homes for those who need them the most, strengthen educational policies and… will remove Costa Rica from the IACHR list.
It is known that Latin America has a rather limited policy when talking about sexual minorities and sexual rights, it’s a culture where family values are highly respected, and tradition is above all. But the world is changing, refusing to go along with it will only bring pain to its citizens and nurture the path of war.
50 years ago it was inconceivable to think about women wearing jeans or voting, it was impossible to see black people sitting next to white people on a bus and today is what it always had to be: a reality.
Fabricio Alvarado may have the best intentions for his country, but when politics are involved, it’s a matter of every person in the world. Having a world leader that openly opposes to same-sex marriage because of his religious beliefs, that are also very personal, means a step back on modernity and the exclusion of hundreds and thousands of humans in need of civil rights recognition.
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