Though international media has awarded victory to Oscar Arias in the closely contested election, final official confirmation has been withheld until all protests are settled. While Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Arias was predicted to win the election in a walk, the issue of ratification of CAFTA-DR became a major point of contention between him and his major opponent Otton Solis. Though neither candidate opposes free trade, Arias supported CAFTA-DR and Solis is against certain provisions of the treaty.
Because the matter of ratification of CAFTA-DR polarized the electorate, the country divided almost in half in its votes. Of the 1.4 million votes cast in the February 5 election, unofficial results showed Arias with 664,545 votes and Solis with 646,378.
As complaints filed by opposition parties are finally resolved, it is anticipated that Arias will be named the winner. The task that will then face him is to bring together his divided country and to achieve governmental ratification of CAFTA-DR.
Except for Costa Rica, all other eligible nations – the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua – have ratified CAFTA-DR. El Salvador became the first of the Latin nations to move from ratification to implementation.