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Pacheco Asks Comptroller To Intervene in IDA Case

December 2, 2005

PRESIDENT Abel Pacheco hasasked the Comptroller General to openan investigation on functionaries of theAgriculture Development Institute (IDA)who awarded at least 100 hectares ofpublic land to one another and their families.Pacheco sent a letter Tuesday toComptroller Rocío Aguilar asking her toorder an investigation of how IDA functionarieshave purchased and awardedland over the past 10 years.From 1995 to 1999, lots and farmsranging in size from 655 square metersto 99,000 square meters were awarded toat least 23 IDA employees and theirbrothers, mothers, husbands and children,according to an investigation by thedaily La Nación published last week (TT,Nov. 25). These farms were supposed tobe sold at highly subsidized prices topoor Costa Rican campesinos based oneconomic need.Following the publication, 14 legislatorscalled for a government investigationincluding the formation of a councilof notables to study the case.Pacheco responded Tuesday that hecould not order an investigation, andinstead sent a letter to Aguilar asking herto make the order.Pacheco wrote that if, as a result ofthe investigation, the comptroller decidesto take the case to the Public SecurityMinistry so that those involved can becharged with a crime, he will offer his“full and decided support.”The President added that IDAExecutive President Gerardo Vargas ismoving forward with a “vigorous administrativeinvestigation” to establish thefacts and those responsible in order torevoke any land inappropriately awarded.The market value of the questionedproperties, primarily located near thePacific coastal highway that joinsOrotina and Jacó, is $8.3 million, accordingto La Nación.The daily’s investigation of IDAproperties continued this week with therevelation that impoverished recipientsof IDA property often sell the landinstead of using it for farming or housing,as it is intended.Campesino families have sold theirproperties for more than $20,000 to individualsor businessmen who ultimatelybuild factories, gas stations, restaurantsand other businesses, the investigationfound.By law, recipients of IDA land cannotsell or subdivide it for 15 years, althoughthis restriction can sometimes be liftedby appeal.The La Nación investigation alsorevealed that some IDA recipients whohave illegally sold their land were laterawarded additional IDA properties.At least 400 families are waiting toreceive IDA lands.

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