San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Twins Swap Legislative Seat

Twin brothers José and Carlos Salas apparently haven’t seen enough Disney movies to know that they could’ve swapped out José’s seat in the Legislative Assembly without telling anyone, simply by switching suits and grooming their mustaches the same way.

Instead, the Salases have done things the “proper” way – announcing that Carlos will take over for José for the final three months of his legislative term.

Nevertheless, some people are wondering if they aren’t behaving mischievously after all.

José, a legislator with the Authentic Heredian party, last week presented his resignation from the legislature and picked one of the only other members of the small party as his replacement – his brother.

José was originally elected with the Libertarian Movement, and Carlos was second on the list behind him for the province of Heredia.

Carlos, who took over yesterday, was hoping to win his own four-year seat in the Feb. 5 elections, but was unsuccessful, prompting José’s decision to share his term.

While the move is legal, Labor Minister Fernando Trejos called the twins on their switch, pointing out that Carlos will be able to bump his pension up from ¢1 million ($2,000) to ¢1.7 million ($3,400) for serving less than three months in the legislature. The pensions are for life.

“It’s hard for me, as a Costa Rica citizen more than as a public functionary, to accept that a person who worked in a job for two months … wants a life pension of ¢1.7 million,” said Trejos, adding that he is not saying Carlos will do this, only that he can.

Carlos, an educator, told the daily La Nación that he will do it, that is, if he is not offered a high post in the Ministry of Education or as a cultural attaché to Spain.

“I know a lot of people want me to say I will renounce the pension, but if they don’t hook me up (with a post), I will take it,” he told the daily, adding that retirement isn’t his objective, and he wants to work again.


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