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President of Costa Rica seeks to strengthen government after resignations due to private data scandal

March 4, 2020

The president of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado, announced on Wednesday an effort to strengthen governance in response to a scandal over suspicions of breach of private information that caused several resignations in his cabinet.

Alvarado formed a team of three members headed by the experienced Minister of Public Works and Transportation, Rodolfo Méndez, to formulate a proposal to strengthen government management.

Méndez, 83, is a member of the opposition Christian Social Unity Party and in his long career has been Minister of the Presidency and the Treasury.

The announcement came minutes after the Minister of the Presidency, Víctor Morales, presented his resignation from the post.

“In this framework of things and in order to strengthen governance from the Presidential House and for coordination with the Legislative Power, I have asked the minister (Méndez) to coordinate a task force to carry out a proposal to strengthen governance,” Alvarado said in a statement.

Speaking with all his ministers, Alvarado announced that the work team will be made up of Méndez, the Minister of Labor Geanina Dinarte, and the Deputy Minister of the Presidency, Silvia Lara, who will temporarily assume that position.

The creation of a Presidential Data Analysis Unit (UPAD) generated turbulence for the Alvarado government, arousing suspicion that it would be used to collect private information from the population.

Such fears prompted an investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office, which last week raided the Presidential House and confiscated computer equipment and cell phones, including those of President Alvarado.

Attempts to regain confidence

Suspicions also led to the presentation of a motion of censure against the now former Minister Morales, which has not been voted on, and the opening of a parliamentary investigation.

The president said that the team headed by Minister Méndez must submit a proposal in two months to reform the work of the presidency “as a way to strengthen citizen confidence.”

In addition to the Minister of the Presidency and the two vice ministers, the UPAD coordinator, Diego Fernández, and the presidential adviser Felly Salas, both investigated by the prosecution, also left office.

Morales, meanwhile, said that next week he will resume his duties as deputy of the official Citizen Action Party (PAC).

“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.

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