San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Chinchilla Accepts First Resignation

Bruno Stagno resigned on Wednesday from his post as Costa Rican ambassador to the United Nations after being accused of a conflict of interest.

Stagno named himself ambassador to the United Nations days before he left his post as foreign minister earlier this year. His appointment wasn’t questioned at the time, but was later called a “grave error” by his former ministry, because he had signed off on his own nomination.

“Had he refrained from signing it,” the report read, “the situation could have been remedied.”

Stagno’s resignation perhaps saved President Laura Chinchilla from having to fire him. However, she did say she regretted the loss for Costa Rica, as she said he was a foreign officer with a great deal of “solid experience in international politics,” according to a statement.

According to news sources, Stagno, who served as ambassador to the UN from 2002-2005, also misstepped in appointing acting ambassador to the UN, Jorge Urbina, to a new post. Without a position immediately available, Stagno asked the ambassador to the Netherlands step down in order to install Urbina in his place. However, the appointment of Urbina would have required the approval of the Dutch government before he could legally become ambassador there, according to rules laid out by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

To circumvent the rule, Stagno named Urbina to the new post of Ambassador to Multilateral Organizations located in the Netherland, which Urbina could assume pending later approval by the government of the Netherlands.

“The designation of Ambassador Urbina was neither illegal or unconstitutional,” said the commission appointed by the current government to examine the situation. However, it was seen by many, including the commission, as a clear conflict of interest.

While the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry sorts out the confusion surrounding last-minute appointments made during the Oscar Arias administration, it’s making a few nominations of its own.

On Monday, Foreign Minister René Castro named Adriana Prado as the Costa Rican ambassador to El Salvador, Victor Manuel Monge to the ambassadorship in Brazil, Edgar Ugalde to Colombia, and former Foreign Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruíz to China.

Under Arias, Ruiz successfully negotiated free trade agreements with the United States, the European Union and China, earning himself the local reputation of a superstar in the diplomatic sphere. He will occupy a key role as Costa Rica looks to expand relations and opportunities in Asia.


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