Costa Rican ex-footballer Rolando Fonseca enmeshed in scandal over presidential trip

May 16, 2013

Former Tico soccer player Rolando Fonseca confirmed he helped coordinate a request for Colombian firm THX Energy to loan a private jet to transport President Laura Chinchilla and a small delegation to Peru last weekend, and to Venezuela earlier this year.

Fonseca told local TV news station Telenoticias that he works as an external adviser to the company, and he acted as intermediary between the company and Chinchilla’s administration on both occasions.

“On March 14, staff members from the Casa Presidencial first contacted me to request a private jet to transport President Chinchilla to the funeral of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez,” Fonseca said in an email to the news station. “The second time they [Casa Presidencial staff] directly called the pilot to request the plane a second time to travel to Peru. He [the pilot] called me, and then I called the company’s manager in Colombia, Carlos Arturo Espinoza Torres, to ask for authorization.” 

In a press release THX identified Ludwing Sibaja as the Casa Presidencial staff member who requested the plane for Chinchilla’s flights.

“He [Espinosa] is based in Colombia because the company has no business interests in Costa Rica, and they facilitated the plane only as a collaboration with the president,” he added. THX also estimated the cost for the round trip to Peru in $9,633.

On Wednesday afternoon, Costa Rica’s Communications Minister Francisco Chacón resigned over the scandal, saying that he “was deceived by Colombian businessman Ricardo Morales, who presented himself as Gabriel O’Falan.” Morales has been questioned in his country for alleged links to drug trafficking cartels. The press release also said that Morales does not appear in any record as an employee of THX Energy.

On Thursday, Chinchilla responded in a press release that she will not participate in any public activities, as she is “focused on evaluating [the situation] and taking corrective actions.”

“While these measures are adopted, we will not provide any additional statements on this case. We appreciate the understanding by members of the media in what is a very serious situation that requires prudence and concentration,” Chinchilla said in a statement sent by her press office.

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