San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Health Ministry Orders Legislative Buildings Closed

THE Public Health Ministry hasordered the closure of several LegislativeAssembly buildings because of their poorsanitary conditions and high risk forearthquake damage.Describing what she called “terrible”and “precarious” conditions, HealthMinister Rocío Sáenz explained that forsome of the buildings, including thosethat house offices of human resources,supplies and archives, administrators have15 days to evacuate or present a viableplan of how the structures can be madesafe. In those buildings, employees workamidst the stench of urine and the scurryof cockroaches.Rodents, leaks, overcrowding, sewagewater mixed with rainwater, fire dangerand worn structures are among the otherprincipal problems with the buildings,according to the daily La Nación.Other buildings that house legislators’offices have also been orderedevacuated, although some have beengiven up to two months. Legislators’central meeting room is not affected.Officials are in the process of lookingfor offices in San José to relocate 800 ofthe nearly 1,000 legislative employees,the daily reported. However, they willneed six months to do so.Legislators tried in August to getapproval from the Executive Branch for a$30 million loan from the CentralAmerican Bank of Economic Integration(CABEI) to build new facilities, but then-Finance Minister Federico Carrillo – nowvice-president of CABEI– scoffed at theidea, saying it was not “within the universeof priorities for the state” (TT, Aug.12). President Abel Pacheco reiteratedTuesday, following his weekly Cabinetmeeting, that he has not been presentedwith a viable reason why a new legislativebuilding should be constructed.

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