President Luis Guillermo Solís announced five new Cabinet members on Thursday evening, including three ministers to replace ones who have left or been fired in recent months.
Dr. Fernando Llorca Castro will be the new health minister, taking the place of María Elena López Núñez, who resigned in February citing family and personal reasons. Llorca has served as head of outpatient services for the Costa Rican Social Security System, or Caja, and has worked in health insurance administration in Spain and the U.K.
Mauricio Ventura Aragón, former director of the National Tourism Chamber (1994-1999) and current member of San José’s tourism board, will take over as tourism minister. The former minister, Wilhelm von Breymann, resigned last week in the midst of heavy criticism from private sector representatives, who felt he wasn’t representing their interests.
Marcelo Jenkins Coronas, a computer science professor at the University of Costa Rica, will be the new minister of science and technology. President Solís asked former Minister Gisella Kopper to resign on April 10 for her role in drafting a controversial bill that would have allowed the government to shutter radio and television stations for broadcasting “lies” or offending public morality.
Solís appointed Emilio Arias Rodríguez as vice minister of telecommunications to replace Allan Ruiz, who was also sacked over the media bill scandal. Arias is a public policy specialist who’s worked for various government agencies, including the Public Services Regulatory Authority.
Finally, Solís named Elian Villegas Valverde, a lawyer and expert in financial systems management, as the new executive president of the National Insurance Institute. The former executive president, Sergio Alfaro Salas, left his post on April 17 to become the new presidency minister.
Solís’ Cabinet remake — and reshuffling – comes after five ministers and 16 high-level officials have either resigned or been asked to leave during the president’s first year in office.