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Abel Pacheco de la Espriella (born 22 December 1933, in San José) is the president of Costa Rica, representing the Social Christian Unity Party (Partido Unidad Social Cristiana – PUSC). He ran on a platform to continue free market reforms and to institute an austerity program, and was elected with 58% of the vote in April 2002.
He was the sixth child of a banana farmer. Part of his childhood was spent in the province of Limón on the Caribbean coast, but he returned to the capital to complete his secondary education. He then went on, aided by scholarships he had won, to study medicine at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and psychiatry at Louisiana State University
During the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s he was a popular presenter of cultural programmes on Costa Rican television. During this time he continued to teach at the University of Costa Rica and personally attended to customers at the gentleman's outfitters, El Palacio del Pantalón, that he had established in downtown San José in the mid-1980s. He also wrote a series of novels and a number of popular songs.
In the run-up to the 2002 presidential election, the PUSC party convention selected him to be its candidate by an overwhelming 76% of the delegates' votes on 10 June 2001. His candidacy was seen as a victory for the rank-and-file members over the party's entrenched hierarchy.
In the first round of the election Pachecho received 38.6% of the vote: just short of the 40% needed to avoid a run-off. On 7 April 2002, in the second round – the first time the mechanism had been used since the rules were introduced – Pacheco got 58% of the vote, beating Rolando Araya Monge of the liberal PLN by a narrow margin.