San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Libertarian lawmaker files criminal complaint against President Chinchilla over Peru trip

Libertarian Movement Party (ML) lawmaker Patricia Pérez on Wednesday filed a legal complaint before the Chief Prosecutor’s Office against President Laura Chinchilla for an alleged conflict of interest and for allegedly receiving gifts from the Canadian firm THX Energy.

The controversy began last weekend when the president made a previously unannounced trip to Peru to attend the wedding of Vice President Luis Liberman’s son.

Chinchilla and her entourage traveled in a private jet owned by THX Energy. The president was accompanied by Communications Minister Francisco Chacón and his wife, Anabel González, Costa Rica’s minister of foreign trade.

On Tuesday, Chacón said “there is no conflict of interest, because the Canadian firm’s only [commercial interest] in Costa Rica is a failed agricultural project for the production of palm oil,” the daily La Nación reported. “Chinchilla’s administration is not currently promoting gas exploration in the country,” he added. He also stated that the jet was provided via “collaboration” from the Canadian firm.

Pérez said it is her responsibility as a public official to report any wrongdoings, especially when they are “this clear and obvious.”

The government Public Ethics Office also announced on Tuesday that it would open its own investigation of ministers Chacón and González for the same reasons.

Chinchilla said her trip was of a private nature, as she initially planned only to attend the wedding on Saturday, but then decided to use the trip to briefly meet with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala on Monday to talk about trade, security and investment, and to seek Peru’s support for Costa Rica’s entry in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

On Wednesday, during an official event to inaugurate new rail service to the colonial capital of Cartago, Chinchilla fielded only three questions from reporters, saying that all other expenses related to the trip, including food and lodging, were paid on her credit card, La Nación reported.

“This trip followed the same parameters as other trips,” Chinchilla said. “I can guarantee that everything was paid on my credit card in a manner that not one cent of Costa Ricans’ money was touched.” 

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