San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Jairo Mora

Costa Rica Supreme Court cries foul on environment minister’s participation in Jairo Mora protest

Costa Rican Supreme Court President Zarela Villanueva criticized President Luis Guillermo Solís for not keeping his ministers in order following the acquittal of seven suspects in the Jairo Mora murder trial on Jan. 26.

Environment Minister Edgar Guiterrez drew criticism from Villanueva and his fellow Cabinet member, Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa, for his participation in a march protesting the judges’ decision in the case that drew international attention.

Solís told Radio Monumental that it was not for him as president to opine on the court’s ruling but added that cases as “simple” as the the Mora case should be better handled.

Writing in a letter dated Monday, Villanueva expressed her concern over Gutierrez’s participation in the protest as a breach of the separation of powers:

I’m very concerned to see that your position as head of the government of the Republic has not been reflected in all members of your Cabinet. The Minister of Environment and Energy attended a public protest in front of the Supreme Court of Justice about a case — still under debate — to demand a predetermined result, which goes against the official position of the government, as demonstrated by your dignified presence as its maximum representative, but also against respect for the separation of powers.

The court president said that there were legal mechanisms to discuss the “strengths and weaknesses” of the judicial system besides marching on the court.

Gamboa tweeted his disapproval of the environment minister’s participation: “Along with the rest of [Costa Rica], I’m saddened by the #JairoMora acquittal. But I oppose State Ministers marching against the court.”

Gutiérrez, meanwhile, defended his presence at the march as a sign of solidarity with the family, telling

I participated, as I have said before, as an act of solidarity with the family of Jairo Mora. I’m the father of a family, too, and I would not like to be in their position, and therefore I empathize in the way that we can to seek justice and that complies with our constitution.

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Ken Morris

Whether or not Guiterrez was entitled to march probably depends upon why he was marching.

If he was marching to protest the verdict, as this story suggests, then he was completely out of line. A public official must at all times show respect for the judiciary and its independence even when they disagree with a ruling, or resign.

If however Guiterrez was marching in protest over the sloppy investigation and prosecution, then I think he had the right to march. This kind of protest can be construed as calling for an improvement in the operation of government rather than a criticism of a decision rendered by the court, and public officials have every right to make these kinds of statements.

If though Guiterrez was marching in solidarity with the victim’s family, as he says was his motive, I’m afraid that he’s just making excuses for his own thoughtlessness. Unless he shows similar sympathy to the families of other murder victims, which I doubt he does, he’s just dodging the issue and revealing that he’s unfit for public service. A minister should have a much clearer and politically defensible reason for joining a protest than Guiterrez provides, and if a minister is as muddle-minded as Guiterrez appears to be, he shouldn’t be a minister.

As an aside, it’s a bit shocking to me to hear the court tell the president that he should contol his ministers better. Granted, she wasn’t a minister, but Solís has taken a lot of grief lately for trying to control Brenes. I’m thinking that ministers also have the right to make independent decisions without permission or micromanaging from the president, and the president’s only right is to fire them when he doesn’t agree with their decisions. The notion that a president is responsible for controlling ministers is a little frightening, especially when it comes from the court.

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I would think having the Environment Minister in solidarity with the very unfortunate results from this case (which has given Costa Rica yet another very negative view in the eyes of many around the world when it comes to how they truly are as far as protecting its people) would be a positive thing.

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David Boddiger


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The president of Costa Rica is now showing he has no control over his goverment. Everyday in Costa Rica people wonder what will happen next. So far the goverment of Costa Rica has lost thousand of Private sector jobs since they took office. The debt of the country is rising very faster. Crime is going up and a corupt justice ministry that can be payed off by drug cartels and rich that steal from the poor. The President has traveled all over the world spending money the Costa Rica goverment does not have to spend. Here are Six question the President of CR need to be asked.

1. Why are there so much unemployment in CR?

2. Why is Public employee making so much more money than the private sector employee?

3. Where does all the Costa Rican Tax money go?

4. Why does nothing ever get fixed like Roads and bridges in CR?

5. Why is the justice ministry so slow to do anything?

6. Why is everything more expensive in CR than the rest of Central America?

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