Latin America Advisor

A Daily Publication of The Dialogue

Will a Corruption Scandal Shake Up Costa Rica’s Politics?

In a video statement, Costa Rican presidential aide Camilo Saldarriaga resigned but denied wrongdoing following a series of anti-corruption raids. // File Photo: Prensa Camilo Saldarriaga via YouTube.

Authorities in Costa Rica conducted dozens of raids on June 14 in connection with an alleged bribery and kickback scheme related to construction companies and public works contracts. Police raided more than a dozen government offices, including that of top presidential aide Camilo Saldarriaga, who resigned but denied wrongdoing. How significant is the investigation, and how could it affect President Carlos Alvarado’s government? How adequately has Alvarado’s government worked to prevent and fight corruption, and how effective are the country’s anti-graft laws? How could the recent raids play a role in next February’s presidential and legislative election, and will concerns over corruption influence voters?

Bruce Wilson, professor of political science at the University of Central Florida: “The political fallout of the current corruption scandal is difficult to predict. A major corruption scandal in the 2000s rocked the political elite and facilitated the collapse of the country’s long-established two-party system. Yet, the Cementazo scandal (2014-18) that unfolded during a PAC administration did not prevent the same party from winning the 2018 presidential election. In the current case, though, it is a high-ranking presidential aide, a senior manager of the Contraloría General, and two of the country’s richest men who are implicated, not the president himself. The impact on the ongoing party primaries and upcoming general election might prove muted: presidents and all 57 members of the Legislative Assembly are constitutionally prohibited from seeking immediate re-election, thus no individual who currently holds elected political office can appear on next year’s general election ballot. Corruption is consistently one of the top five concerns for Costa Rican voters, and the sitting president’s party (PAC) was created as an anti-corruption party. Yet, after two consecutive PAC administrations, there is still…”

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The Inter-American Dialogue publishes the Latin America Advisor every business day for a distinguished membership of informed corporate leaders, scholars, and government officials invested in Latin America’s development and future. The Advisor‘s highly regarded Q&A section covers questions submitted by subscribers themselves. Commentators regularly include heads of state, business leaders, diplomats, economists, analysts, and thought leaders from around the world. Many of the world’s largest and fastest-growing companies subscribe to the Advisor. To subscribe click here or for more information, contact Erik Brand, publisher of the Advisor, at ebrand@thedialogue.org.


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