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Costa Rica’s Chinchilla files defamation claim against local businessman for Facebook comment

June 26, 2013

Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla filed a defamation lawsuit in a criminal court in San José against attorney and tourism businessman Alberto Rodríguez Baldí, the judicial branch’s press office announced on Wednesday.

The lawsuit was filed at 4 p.m. Tuesday and is based on comments Rodríguez posted on his Facebook profile on June 15.

Rodríguez wrote at the time that Chinchilla bought land worth $2.5 million in Nicoya, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, and cites as his source a local resident. He also said Chinchilla is investing in wind power companies, according to business associates with whom he spoke.

The president’s new communications minister, Carlos Roverssi, said Chinchilla’s legal action was filed “as a citizen and not as president,” meaning she will pay all legal fees.

Chinchilla hired lawyer Alexander Rodríguez Campos “to make it clear that the only income she receives is from her salary and from her husband’s pension,” Roverssi said.

After reading about the lawsuit in the daily La Nación, Rodríguez – who owns a hotel in Alajuela – posted on his Facebook page that “Doña Laura is entitled to sue whomever she wants.”

He also accused the president “of lying to the Costa Rican people in the OAS case,” referring to a failed project to build a new highway between the capital and the canton of San Ramón in Alajuela. Chinchilla suspended a concession with Brazilian company OAS after several public demonstrations against the project, which would have charged $8 in round-trip tolls on the 58-kilometer highway for the next 30 years.

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