Four days per week, from 7pm to 9pm, the corridor of the Grace Matamoros and Sergio Borges home in Bebedero de Cañas, becomes a Christian worship hall.
In this red-floored house where half the walls are cement and the other half wood, the couple congregates around 80 people, children and adults alike.
Bebedero is the smallest district in the Cañas canton. Some 2,000 people live in 57.98 kilometers, according to the 2011 census. Of those who voted, 48.77 percent voted for the National Restoration Party (PRN). These votes made the district the one that most supported the evangelical candidate in Guanacaste.
This, and other political, social and religious threads wove the fabric for the PRN flag here.
—On occasions, I have had the opportunity to express to the church: If we have to elect someone, don’t do it because I am telling you to, but because the only option we have right now is Fabricio— says pastor Sergio without hesitation.
His wife also speaks:
—I saw that everyone voted for Fabricio. Do you know why? Because that crazy man [referring to Carlos Alvarado] that was running for president is supporting many things that don’t matter.
—Gender equality— Sergio says.
—Right. The gays and all that. People are afraid that they will teach kids dirty things— she says.
Here in Bebedero, there are three evangelical churches in addition to the traditional catholic church. Walking through the town, you don’t see any flags representing political parties, just two fences with a photo of Mileidy Alvarado and three with the PLN candidate Aida Montiel, both elected.
What is common is to hear praise and worship music coming out of houses and businesses.
In a restaurant in downtown Bebedero with a Christian song by Marcos Witt playing in the background, Petronila, the owner, says that if she could, she would have voted for Fabricio.
She didn't vote because although she was born in La Cruz, Guanacaste, her mother registered her birthplace in Nicaragua. But she’s not worried about not being able to vote. She is convinced that Fabricio will be the next president.
Petronila, who currently attends Sergio and Grace’s church, went to one of Fabricio’s concerts and those of other psalmists in Santa Cruz. That day, she said, a prophecy occurred.
“Listen, the Lord says you are going to be the next president,” Petronila says of a pastor who was speaking to Fabricio in the middle of the crowd.
She said that she has heard of another pastor in another country who said that the president will be named Fabricio.
“And if God said it, there isn’t anyone or anything that can go against his will.”
Photo Caption: Petronila is sure that Fabricio will be president because of a prophecy she heard three months ago.
A Large Political-Religious Oasis
Exiting Bebedero, close to downtown Cañas, there is one more church: Oasis de esperanza (Oasis of Hope). It is in this church, the largest in the canton, where congresswoman-elect Mileidy Alvarado works. Her husband was also a religious leader of the same congregation.
Today, Oasis of Hope is directed by Pablo Guevara, Mileidy’s brother-in-law who is also a pastor and deputy mayor for the canton. He ran for congress with the PRN party in the 2014 elections but he wasn’t elected. In 2016, he joined the PLN (National Liberation Party) in order to reach his current political position.
He is still a part of a local PLN government, but Guevara is an obvious supporter of the PRN. His and his church’s social media sites leave no doubt that his support is for that religious, political group, for Fabricio and his sister-in-law Mileidy.
During the campaign, the Oasis of Hope Facebook page echoed PRN messages.
“National Restoration Party, an intelligent vote,” the parishioners wrote when they shared a photo of Fabricio Alvarado.
Trying to explain what he saw in Cañas, a member of the national police whose last name is Jiménez says that “the catholic church is beaten out by other churches by a lot.”
This idea is repeated by others who are sitting in the Cañas park, that there are a lot of evangelical churches, the catholic church is losing ground and that Mileidy Alvarado well recognized in town as a pastor and a stylist at the German Alvarado family barbershop.
At the PAC house, a group of seven people also understand clearly the factors that helped PRN win in a landslide: The candidate from Cañas, the churches, the pastor deputy mayor, Guanacaste conservatism, and the current events in the country around the issue of diversity.
From the Barbershop to Congress
At a barbershop stuck in time and located next to the Cañas - Liberia highway, Mileidy Alvarado cut a lot of hair. Some 37 years ago, her father German Alvarado founded the locale. Today, her brother, also named German, runs it.
—Did you ever think a member of the family would reach a political position?
German sits down and, while he cuts a customer’s hair, says,
—Mileidy has a lot of ways of expressing herself. She’s a very restless person and very hard working.
Mileidy Alvarado worked in this barbershop. Today, her brother German runs the family business.
In the salon where the now congresswoman grew famous, chords of electric razors hang from the roof. There is no ceiling. The chairs are deteriorating and the walls need painting.
Her brother says that he and Mileidy come into contact with so many people here that learning about the problems of Guanacastecans is an everyday task. In front of him, a giant mirror pays hommage to the pride of the family with a small PRN postal stamp that for months has read: “Mileidy Alvarado, congresswoman, 1st place.”