Published Tuesday, February 9, 2021
President Alvarado faces
a hearing in Congress
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Forty deputies voted to settle the hearing of President Carlos Alvarado before the Special Commission which investigates the Presidential Unit for Data Analysis, known as UPAD.
The President will answer the questions of the deputies in the Congress hall tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 10, starting at 9:30 a.m.
According to Congress, the deputies are contemplating the cancellation of the agenda of other sessions that were previously scheduled for that day.
The hearing was set to be held in the Congress Hall to meet the conditions to allow more deputies to question the President, according to Shirley Díaz Mejías, deputy of the Christian Social Unity Party.
However, President Alvarado has considered that the hearing could be viewed as unconstitutional, since according to the Constitution, the deputies are allowed to call the ministers to an audience and not a President.
On Monday, during the back-to-school event attended by President Alvarado, he said that the hearing could be considered a trap. But because his duty is to Costa Rica, he will attend and resolve the deputy's questions. He intends to solve doubts that Costa Ricans may have (referring to the UPAD).
"It is an unconstitutional mechanism, but if I don't go, they are going to say that I'm hiding something, I'm afraid, I'm procrastinating," President Alvarado said. "What they want is to weaken the trust of Costa Ricans in me, and I cannot allow that either," he added.
The disclosure that the president set up a special data collection unit became top news in April 2020, when the attorney general authorized a raid of the Presidential House along with another ministry and some private homes.
Attorney General Emilia Navas was present at the search that was held in 2020 on the Presidential House and at the Ministry of Planning.
The president and seven aides are facing possible crimes that have been listed as a personal data breach, abuse of authority and prevarication.
The legal term prevarication or perverting the course of justice is a crime that consists of an authority issuing an arbitrary resolution in an administrative or judicial matter knowing that said resolution is unfair and contrary to the law.
On the same day of the raids in 2020, a legal adviser, surnamed Salazar-Muñoz, resigned from his job at the Presidential House. He is linked in creating the decree that Alvarado used to create the unit.
Judicial agents seized computers, cell phones and documents for the case. Among the confiscated are the cell phone and computer assigned to President Alvarado.
Given the controversy created by this decree, a few hours into the investigation, President Alvarado revoked the decree and with it, the Presidential Unit for Data Analysis.
According to the government, the creation of the UPAD had the goal of helping with policy setting and decision making.
What have you heard about cases of illegal use of civilian data by the government of your country? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org