San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

ICE Unions Sponsored By Bidding Companies

SINCE 2001, the Costa RicanElectricity Institute’s Engineers andProfessionals Union (SIICE) has receivedfunding from at least 20 private firms thathave participated in bidding processes tosupply ICE with millions of dollars worthof goods and services.The union requested contributionsfrom the firms to organize seminars ontechnological and political issues, thedaily La Nación reported.Between 2001 and 2003, SIICEreceived ¢13 million ($32,500 using the2003 average exchange rate) from telecomfirms including Alcatel (which soldICE the equipment needed to provideGSM cell phone service), Ericsson (whichwon a bid to provide ICE with 600,000GSM lines) and GBM (affiliated to U.S.-based IBM and a key provider for themuch-delayed Advanced Internet Project).La Nación reported it has copies ofthe checks. Most of the firms admittedthey contributed to SIICE, but deniedthere was any wrongdoing.SIICE is one ICE’s eight unions. Itrepresents 700 professionals from ICE,the National Power and Light Company(CNFL) and Internet-providerRadiográfica Costarricense S.A.(RACSA).ICE executive president Pablo Cobhas announced he will investigate thematter.

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