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Tribunal investigates 2 more companies, a union, and Caja officials for allegedly violating electoral code

January 24, 2014

Just days after two companies were reprimanded by Costa Rica’s Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) for distributing political propaganda to employees, officials from the tribunal on Friday confirmed receiving complaints against two more companies, a public worker’s union and administrators of the country’s public health care system.

Héctor Fernández, director of the TSE’s electoral registry, said employees had filed complaints via email and phone against the travel agency Swiss Travel, car dealership Veinsa and the Social Security System worker’s union (UNDECA).

Complainants accused Swiss Travel and Veinsa of asking employees not to vote for the Broad Front Party, a violation of Costa Rica’s electoral code. According to the complaints, the companies sent emails to employees, and Swiss Travel also allegedly asked its workers to watch a video explaining the “dangers” of electing the Broad Front Party’s José María Villalta.

A complaint against UNDECA was filed on Friday by two Social Security System (Caja) employees who accused union leaders of sending emails asking workers not to vote for candidates who backed “neoliberalism,” which they said would threaten the Caja. The messages did not refer to specific parties.

The union filed its own complaint against Caja administrators after emails circulated asking Caja employees not to vote for the Broad Front Party, because “Villalta’s proposals will harm the Caja.” UNDECA Secretary General Luis Chavarría said the messages also were printed on fliers and placed on the walls of public hospitals.

Fernández said more details would become available as the TSE’s investigation moves forward.

Last week, TSE President Luis Antonio Sobrado said the tribunal had issued cease-and-desist orders to the sandwich company Subway and cosmetics company Avon, both of which had distributed political propaganda to their employees warning of the dangers of “communism.”

The TSE also asked the Labor Ministry to inspect the two companies to determine if they should face further punitive action.

According to Article 279 of Costa Rica’s Electoral Code, those found guilty of “acts of coercion, violence, threats or reprisals taken to induce a person to vote in a certain way, to support a certain cause or refrain from doing it” could face up to six years in prison.

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