From the print edition
Former Culture Vice Minister Karina Bolaños might have lied about the origins of a racy video she made, according to Culture Minister Manuel Obregón. Someone uploaded the video to YouTube last week, and Bolaños was removed from her position in the ministry as a result.
After the video surfaced online, generating millions of views in only a few days, Obregón wrote an op-ed for the daily La Nación justifying the vice minister’s firing. The quick removal of Bolaños from office angered many Costa Ricans, and some criticized President Laura Chinchilla – including The Tico Times in an editorial last week – for dismissing the vice minister over what was believed to be a case of extortion by a third party and an invasion of her privacy.
According to Obregón, Bolaños’ version of events – stated in her only public interview regarding the incident to CNN en Español – was misleading.
In the interview, Bolaños said the video, where she’s dressed in her underwear and flirting with the camera, was made in 2007, and was stolen from her personal computer. However, Obregón said he believes the video was made in 2009, while Bolaños attended an AIDS prevention conference in Cape Town, South Africa. The minister also suspects Bolaños could have used a government computer to film the video, and that she might have disseminated the video on her own.
In addition, Bolaños faces two criminal complaints filed against her on unrelated charges. On July 30, the daily tabloid La Teja said Bolaños faces a criminal complaint for harassment against a former lover and another for disobeying a restraining order.
Obregón said Bolaños never informed her superiors about the legal troubles. In addition, Bolaños said in her CNN interview that she had been extorted for more than a year regarding the video, but she did not disclose this information to superiors or authorities until the video became public.
These discretions, and the publication of the video, made it impossible for the government to permit Bolaños to continue at her job working with youth programs at the ministry.
Obregón said he “was deeply sorry and condemned the irresponsible invasion of privacy” of Bolaños. But he believes the firing was necessary due to the circumstances.
“It is absolutely false, on the other hand, there is some type of discriminatory action against the concerned,” Obregón wrote. “In previous cases where there have been similar criminal charges against an official of similar rank, the government acted consistently. These are decisions that are not linked to gender, but tied to conditions to adequately perform the responsibilities of public office.”
On Thursday morning, Obregón told Radio Reloj that if Bolaños did break any laws with the recording of the video, the government could choose to file criminal charges against her.
The culture minister said he has not heard any further explanations from Bolaños, but he hopes she will communicate with the ministry.
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