San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Foreign Minister Castro appears in Congress, defends ministry hiring practices

On Thursday, Foreign Minister René Castro defended the various diplomatic appointments he has made since his arrival on May 8, 2010, saying that the nominations were both legal and appropriate.

Castro was subpoenaed before the Legislative Assembly after an investigation by the daily La Nación revealed that most diplomatic positions were awarded to close members of the ruling National Liberation Party (TT, June 21). Of 40 foreign service and ministry employees, Castro appointed 27 unqualified employees to overseas posts, including Argentina, France and India, the paper reported.

During the hearing, Castro spent almost an hour providing technical and legal explanations that he said supported those appointments.  

Castro also insisted that many professional diplomats refuse to take jobs abroad, so he is forced to seek people from outside the ministry.

“A decade ago, things were worse,” said Castro. “Almost all workers in the ministry were chosen based on their affiliation with the respective ruling party. We have actually tried to address this problem.”

Castro declined to discuss specific cases of irregular appointments, citing that a current investigation is underway. Legislators seemed dissatisfied with Castro’s statements and said they will continue monitoring the issue.

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