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Facing investigation, Costa Rica’s Minister of the Presidency resigns after just seven months

March 4, 2020

Costa Rica’s Minister of the Presidency, Víctor Morales, resigned from the position on Wednesday after just seven months on the job.

Morales’s resignation comes as he and the administration of President Carlos Alvarado face criticism for creating a Data Analysis Unit (UPAD) with an ill-defined scope. While the Presidency has maintained the unit was meant to help “guide public policy,” the Prosecutor’s Office is investigating whether UPAD violated citizen privacy by collecting confidential data.

The backlash against UPAD led to the presentation of a motion of censure against Morales, which has not been voted on, and the opening of an investigation in the Legislative Assembly.

“I present my resignation as Minister of the Presidency, effective as of today,” Morales said Wednesday morning, accompanied by cabinet members and official deputies as he read a letter addressed to President Alvarado.

“The political reality tells me that, as a consequence of that motion of censure and of the legislative investigation initiated, I will not have the necessary acceptance and communication with the Legislative Branch.”

Morales will return to his former role as a deputy with the Citizen Action Party (PAC).

His departure adds to two other resignations announced Tuesday night.

The Deputy Minister of Finance, Juan Alfaro, announced his departure after saying his name was used without his consent in a document prepared by a UPAD analyst to request access to information from a credit database.

The Vice Minister of Planning, Daniel Soto, who was one of the signatories of the creation decree of the UPAD, also resigned.

The prosecution raided Casa Presidencial on Feb. 27 in search of evidence of possible illegalities in UPAD’s work, and seized cell phones and computers, including those of President Alvarado.

“I thank Víctor Morales Mora for his work as Minister of the Presidency. Our commitment to building a solid democracy and a prosperous country continues,” Alvarado wrote on Twitter.

Morales was appointed on Aug. 1 as the Minister of the Presidency, a position equivalent to that of the chief of staff, with the mission of promoting the revival of the economy to combat high unemployment.

“What will be the fundamental task of Don Víctor? It is the central task of the government: the generation of employment, the revival of our economy, in a context of social peace and dialogue,” Alvarado said at the time.

Morales had been appointed to replace Rodolfo Piza, who resigned in July 2019 after just over a year in office.

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