Former President of Costa Rica Accused of Sexual Assault
Óscar Arias, Nobel Peace winner and former President of Costa Rica, was accused of sexual misconduct by six women, bringing the #MeToo movement in Latin America into the international spotlight.
On Monday, Costa Rican authorities received a complaint against Arias for sexual assault. Another woman came forward accusing Arias of inappropriate behavior on Tuesday.
On the same day, the Office of the Prosecutor of Costa Rica confirmed to CNN that a complaint against Arias had been filed.
Anti-nuclear activist Alexandra Arce was the first woman to file complaints against Arias. Her decision inspired others to speak out about the alleged abuse.
Eleonora Antillon, a Costa Rican journalist, made a public accusation against Arias. Antillon said she was assaulted by him in the mid-80s when she was working on his campaign. Antillion said Arias placed her hand on his erect penis, pushing her against a wardrobe and kissing her as she refused.
"When I saw how lawyers and some women were doubting [Arce], I decided to support her, and I said, 'I believe her because he did something similar to me years ago,'" Antillon told Reuters in an interview.
“At no moment did I scream,” she said. “I did not call for help.” She also did not tell anyone about the incident at the time, said Antillon
Emma Daly, communications director of Human Rights Watch also came forward against Arias. In 1990, Daly, who was working as a journalist in Central America, was approached by Arias as she and fellow reporters called out questions in a hotel lobby in Manágua.
“I remember we were waiting in the lobby in this crowded place. I knew him and I called out to ask a question. I’d always had a good professional relationship with him before,” she said.
“He stopped, looked at me, and instead of answering my question, just reached forward with his hand, touched my chest and then pulled his hand down between my breasts and said 'You're not wearing a bra,' or words to that effect, and then moved on," Daly told Reuters on Thursday. "I was left completely stunned, and the only thing I could say was, 'Yes I am.'"
As of Saturday morning, the most recent woman to accuse Arias of sexual assault was former Miss Costa Rica, Yazmin Morales. She filed the second criminal complaint against Arias.
Describing an event which she said happened in 2015, in Mr. Arias’s home, Ms. Morales said:
"He grabbed me, forcibly got close to my body, and then with one of his hands he touched my breasts over my clothes and kissed me against my will," said Morales, repeating accusations first reported by Costa Rican media.
"I was in shock. I didn't expect anything like that from someone so well-known and someone I admired very much," she added.
Arias is two-time former President and have won a Nobel Peace Prize for his role negotiating an end to civil wars in Central America.
The New York Times also reported that another woman, an unnamed book editor, accused Arias of putting his hand on her leg during a meeting in 2012.
The #MeToo movement, sparked by a large number of sexual misconduct accusations against Harvey Weinstein, led to his and many powerful men’s downfall since the allegations came to light. In Latin America, where countries havesome of the highest femicide rates in the world, the #MeToo movement is still gaining force.