Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the OAS, Rita Hernández Bolaños, in the Newest Edition of the Global Roundtables

November 28, 2018

In the November edition of the Global Roundtables, Semiramis de Miranda, Projects and ICT Director and Angie Martinez, diplomat and contributor to the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) welcomed the Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the Organization of American States (OAS), Rita Hernández Bolaños to the GFDD offices in Washington for an interview.

In a discussion with Martinez, many topics were discussed, including women leaders in politics, the status and future of the OAS as well as Costa Rica’s commitment to democracy.

To begin, Ambassador Hernández mentioned that the experiences of being Alternate Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the OAS have been very distinct. As Alternate Ambassador, one does not truly get to know the political organisms of the organization as does the Permanent Representative. “Definitely it is a very different experience, and much more satisfying to be Permanent Representative,” explained the Ambassador.

Martinez brought up the fact that at the OAS there are only six female Permanent Representatives, one of them Hernández. The Ambassador mentioned how it is quite difficult to move up in the field of diplomacy as a woman. She stressed that all women have the capability to achieve greatness; it is a matter of being dedicated and fighting until your hard work is recognized. The Ambassador mentioned the strong commitment to gender equality of Costa Rica’s President, Carlos Alvarado, who created an administration with equal representation of men and women leaders.

Martinez then directed a number of questions towards Hernández about the status and future of the OAS. They spoke about the role of the OAS in supporting human rights in the region through mechanisms such as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is headquartered in Costa Rica. The Ambassador mentioned that it is a true honor to have the Inter-American Court of Human Rights located in her country.

A main concern for the OAS’ future is the lack of funding coming from governments outside of Washington, DC. The United States provides about 50 percent of the total budget to the OAS. The Ambassador admitted that other member states will need to raise support to maintain the high impact of the organization. She remains optimistic about the regional institution’s power as a force for democracy and human rights throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Finally, Martinez noted that Costa Rica has been a beacon of democracy in Latin America since it first held democratic elections in the early 1900s. Ambassador Hernández agreed and stressed that Costa Rica continues to promote democracy in the region by, for example, serving as one of the biggest supporters of the Inter-American Human Rights System.

About Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the OAS, Rita Hernández Bolaños
Rita Hernández Bolaños studied Law at the University of Costa Rica. She was an official in the National Child Welfare Agency and in 1984 entered Costa Rica’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship, the organization where she has worked for more than 30 years, holding various positions including Chief of the Department of Treaties, Director General of Protocol and Director of the Manuel María de Peralta Institute of Foreign Service, among others.

As a member of the Foreign Service she worked as Minister Counsellor of the Costa Rican Embassy in Spain and between November 2008 and May 2013 served as Alternate Ambassador of her country to the OAS. Hernández was a special mission ambassador in various countries. Currently she is Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the OAS.

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