San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rican lawmakers seek dismissal of environment minister and National Emergency Commission president

A Legislative Assembly commission investigating alleged corruption in the construction of a border road parallel to the Nicaragua border on Wednesday called for the dismissal of former foreign minister and current Environment Minister René Castro, along with the president of the National Emergency Commission, Vanessa Rosales.

Lawmakers Manrique Oviedo and Patricia Pérez from the Citizen Action Party and Libertarian Movement Party, respectively, presented a final report that also requests the removal of National Drug Commissioner Mauricio Boraschi, who “made false statements in a letter addressed to the presidency minister that prompted the start of the project.”

The report seeks a “moral sanction” against Vice President Luis Liberman, who it says was the top executive branch official in charge of the project.

Commission members said “these officials were responsible for political decisions that led to corruption in the project,” therefore they should be declared ineligible to hold public office.

The final report was made public after 34 sessions of the Public Expenditure Commission, which investigated irregularities in the construction of Route 1856, a planned 161-kilometer route built under haste with emergency funds released by the administration of President Laura Chinchilla in response to the escalation of Nicaraguan forces in an area claimed by Costa Rica. A total of 96 witnesses appeared before the commission.

The road, over budget and unfinished, was plagued by corruption by government workers and privately contracted companies, and is seen as a black eye for the Chinchilla administration.

The report calls for an investigation of the construction company CACISA, responsible for work on the road, and recommended the suspension of a new contract that granted the firm the design of the final stage of the project.

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