- For the first time in the history of Turrialba and CATIE, the legislators conducted a solemn session
August 17, 2023. In a historical event, the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica convened for the first time in Turrialba on August 17. The solemn session took place on the campus of CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center), to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the Turrialba canton, the 50th anniversary of CATIE, and the 50th year of the National Monument Guayabo Declaration.
The lawmakers were warmly and colorfully welcomed with cultural presentations, folk dances, bands, and music by students from Clodomiro Picado High School, Jorge Debravo Educational Center, Pejibaye Environmentalist High School, and the Distance State University (UNED) of Turrialba.
At 10 a.m., the plenary session began, chaired by Rodrigo Arias, President of the Legislative Assembly, who indicated that this was an opportunity to understand not only the problems but also the aspects that can be enhanced for the development of the Turrialba canton.
“Living this experience is the best way to become informed and collaborate on the public policies that we must implement to drive the development and integration of Turrialba. By gathering on this land, we celebrate threefold the beauty of the National Monument Guayabo, the wisdom of CATIE, and the strengths of this canton, whose inhabitants not only yearn for progress and well-being but work every day to achieve it. Today, the Legislative Assembly renews its commitment to protect the historical treasure of the National Monument Guayabo for future generations. Meanwhile, CATIE has demonstrated how knowledge can translate into tangible impact through its research and teaching programs, promoting sustainable agricultural practices, encouraging the conservation of natural resources, and strengthening the resilience of rural communities,” Arias expressed.
The Assembly's President also highlighted the agricultural potential that can and should be leveraged in Turrialba to increase productivity, indicating that it's a priority to boost public policy for attracting free trade zones dedicated to agro-industry and manufacturing to create jobs throughout the canton, thereby helping to reduce poverty levels. At the same time, he remarked that tourism needs to be enhanced, a vital base for Turrialba's future development.
During the session, Luis Fernando León, Mayor of Turrialba, called on all those present to join forces to ensure that Turrialba communities have access to better education, medical care, and transportation, and to promote new economic opportunities, encouraging agricultural diversification and sustainable tourism. In addition to this, he drew attention to the urgency for Turrialba to have two double-lane bridges over the Turrialba River, highlighting the economic benefits and improvement in the quality of life that these bridges would bring to the canton’s population.
Muhammad Ibrahim, general director of CATIE, had the opportunity to showcase the impact of CATIE's work, emphasizing its three pillars of action: education, research, and external projection, aiming to promote Inclusive Green Development, which is a global debate due to the impact of the planet's food production systems on human health and food security.
“I would like to express our gratitude to the Government and the Costa Rican Legislative Power for supporting the creation of our institution in 1973, a decision that allows us to celebrate its 50th anniversary today. Moreover, today, from CATIE, we extend our congratulations to the authorities and officials of the Municipality of Turrialba and the National Monument Guayabo,” said Ibrahim.
Meryll Arias, director of the Central Conservation Area of the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), appealed to the legislators' office so that the country continues to create policies and conditions for gems, such as the National Monument Guayabo, and other National Parks and Protected Areas, to prevail over threats of climate change, biodiversity loss, and desertification.
During the regulated debate of the session, deputies Rosaura Méndez, Paulina Ramírez, and Oscar Izquierdo from the National Liberation Party highlighted the importance of CATIE and the National Monument Guayabo, and affirmed that they observed the progress and needs of the canton during their visit.
“Progress advances slowly, throughout history this town, rich in agriculture, has had to reinvent itself to move forward, affected by various natural and economic phenomena. These conditions are well known and recorded in various studies. Our faction has been insistent on the gravity of national routes 10, 415, and 230, which are fundamental for the progress of the canton, tourism development, and job creation. We want progress, but there is no way to provide adequate access to the National Monument Guayabo or the Turrialba Volcano, both great attractions for domestic and foreign tourists. I look at the canton and see potential. However, I also see fighters and entrepreneurs who strive to maintain the workforce and continue to resist the onslaught of government neglect, because without proper social investment in infrastructure, education, health, and housing, it is not possible to have the Turrialba that we all yearn for,” affirmed Izquierdo.
Deputy Méndez, in her speech, also commented on problems in educational infrastructure, the need for more connectivity, reinforcing the Public Force, and the lag shown by the indigenous population of the canton. These and other needs were also supported and expressed by Turrialba's deputy of the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), Alejandro Pacheco.
“To address the problems mentioned, it is necessary for the Municipalities of Turrialba and Jiménez, business organizations, and civil society to be involved in a development strategy, which we have called the New Turrialba and Jiménez Project. This proposal was presented to the Vice President of the Republic, Ministers, and Executive Presidents, who committed to promoting it. However, we still have no response. I make a vehement call to the Executive Branch and the leaders of the different institutions to support this proposal. We have in our hands the possibility to positively and directly impact the quality of life of the population of these territories, let's work on it,” mentioned Méndez.
Achievements for Turrialba
Paola Nájera, deputy of the Social Democratic Progress Party (PPSD), highlighted several recent advancements in the Turrialba canton during her intervention, including the remodeling of the old Atlantic Railway Station; the follow-up to the construction of a new police delegation; a tribute to the canton's youth who participated in the Rafting World Cup; the new William Allen Hospital of Turrialba; the construction of a three-lane street and sidewalks for dignified access to the new hospital; and corrective measures that Transtusa must apply following the intervention and audit due to user complaints.
During the recess of the solemn session, the Municipal Council gave the keys to the city to the Legislative Assembly, in homage to the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Turrialba canton. In addition, CATIE gave recognition to the Legislative Assembly in gratitude for the creation of the Center in 1973 and the support received over the years.
Finally, deputies Méndez and Pacheco, from Turrialba, gave recognitions for their celebrations to the Municipality of Turrialba, CATIE, and the National Monument Guayabo.
After concluding the session at 12:30 in the afternoon, the legislators took a tour of various stands at CATIE to learn about the institution's work in promoting Inclusive Green Development, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
In the afternoon, the deputies visited Turrialba's Central Park, Quesada Casal, and enjoyed a performance at the Municipal Theater. Following that, they embarked on their journey back to the capital, San José.
Watch the full legislative session here.
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