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Costa Rica: Calderón Corruption Trial May Derail Presidential Aspirations

In 2004, documents were made public [es] indicating that a company of former Costa Rican president Rafael Ángel Calderón Fournier had received $440,500 from the Fischel Corporation. This amount corresponded to a commission of $8 million dollars paid from the extension of a credit from the Government of Finland for $39.5 million for the modernization of the Costa Rican Social Security Entity (CCSS for its initials in Spanish). Due to the investigation that found ex-president Calderón involved, as well as the businessman Walter Reiche Fischel and ex-executive president of CCSS Eliseo Vargas involved, Calderón was arrested and sent to prison. He spent nearly one year in jail before being released and is now on trial for these corruption charges.

It is believed that the Costa Rican government overpaid 28-80% above the cost of the medical equipment from the Finnish consortium. Now many Costa Ricans are asking where is that money?

The blog Periodismo Informativo [es] writes:

El Ministerio Público acusa a los imputados como los supuestos artífices de un plan fraudulento, con el fin de impulsar un crédito del gobierno de Finlandia para la compra de equipo médico para la CCSS. Los acusados supuestamente habrían obtenido la suma total de $9.163.821 en “comisiones ilegales”.

The Public Ministry accuses the suspects of being the architects of the fraudulent plan with the aim of impulsing a credit from the government of Finland for the purchase of medical equipment for the CCSS. The accused allegedly obtained a total of $9,163,821 in “illegal commissions.”

For many, this amount is exorbitant especially for a country like Costa Rica where there are many limitations on the funds available for public investment. Many Costa Ricans like El Burro de Licha [es] are anxiously awaiting the completion of the trial even though they know that the money is long gone:

Esperamos que se demuestre indudablemente su inocencia o culpabilidad, si sale inocente, que no quede la menor duda y no sea porque los ellos lograron desestimar la causa

We hope that (the trial) undoubtedly shows his innocence or his guilt, and if he is found innocent, let there be no doubt and not because they were able to reduce the cause

Calderón is not hiding his interest to become elected president once again and has been making visits throughout the country looking for votes. He is also trying to raise the profile of his political party the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC for its initials in Spanish). Something that Marco Blanco of ¡Que Clío nos guarde! [es] has also been noticing, although he notes that even Calderón himself may not see his own chances as realistic:

De cara hacia las elecciones 2010, el PUSC intenta reagruparse alrededor de su líder histórico, el expresidente Calderón (…) quien incluso reconoce querer aspirar a una doble postulación (claro signo de debilidad, ¡nadie que esté seguro de tener posibilidad real de ganar la presidencia se postula al mismo tiempo para diputado!)

Looking forward to the 2010 elections, the PUSC is attempting to regroup around its historic leader, ex-president Calderón (…) and he also aspires to a double candidature (clear sign of weakness, no one who is sure of a real possibility of winning the presidency would also be a candidate for Congressman at the same time!)

The trial appears to be moving at a very slow pace, and some speculate that this is the case because of political pressure. If the trial would have been completed, a presidential campaign would be much less likely. However, there still is a chance that Calderón will run, but potential voters like Conejitos Suicidas [es] won't consider Calderón as a viable candidate:

Yo nunca votaría nuevamente por Calderón, es más, me parece algo descarado de su parte afirmar que piensa relanzarse, no pienso en darle mi voto y mucho menos apoyar alguna de sus acciones políticas.

Pero si creo, al igual que muchos, en los juicios justos. En la justicia verdadera y no la justicia a martillazos, como la de las dictaduras. Creo que todos tenemos el derecho a ser juzgado de forma correcta y no pensar que por solo el hecho de ser político lo hace un corrupto despreciable digno de cárcel.

I would never vote for Calderón again, in addition, I think he is shameless, when he expresses his desire to run again, I won't give him my vote and even less, support one of his political actions.

I do believe, like many others, in fair trials. In true justice and not in hammered justice like in the dictatorships. We all have the right to be justly tried and not in the manner that just because one is a politician then one is despicably corrupt worthy for prison.

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