President Laura Chinchilla fired her top aide and the nation’s security chief in the midst of a media feeding frenzy over her trip to Perú.
The aide, Irene Pacheco, and the security chief, Mauricio Boraschi, did not protect her, said the president. Ms. Pacheco was involved in acquiring a private plane flight for Ms. Chinchilla last week. Boraschi, as head of the Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad, is suppose to know what is going on in the country.
A Colombian who is a naturalized Costa Rica, Gabriel Ricardo Morales Fallon, was a middleman in helping Casa Presidencial line up the executive jet. The nation’s chief prosecutor, Jorge Chavarría, said Thursday that Morales has been looked at by investigators since 2011 because of his frequent trips in and out of the country.
In her televised talk Thursday night, Ms. Chinchilla made much of the nation’s fight against drugs. However, the plane that Ms. Chinchilla, her husband and several other members of the administration took to Perú is owned by a legitimate Colombia petroleum company, THX Energy.
That firm issued a press release Thursday in which it said that Morales has no role in the company and that the firm has no activities or expects to have any activities in Costa Rica. It described the loan of the jet as a courtesy.
It turns out that Morales lives in the same upscale subdivision as a local representative of the energy company.
THX Energy also said that it lamented the fact that the loaning of the plane generated such controversy.
Ms. Chinchilla said in her talk that Celso Gamboa Sánchez, a current vice minister of Seguridad Pública, would take over from Boraschi.
Francisco Chacón, the minister of communications, announced his resignation Wednesday evening. He also was involved in obtaining the loan of the plane.
Ms. Chinchilla also said that there was nothing wrong with the president of the country borrowing the use of an airplane.
Earlier in the day Casa Presidencial released a list of 14 flights that the president has taken on non-commercial planes. Four of these, including the Perú trip, were private flights. One March 7 and 8 involved a flight to Caracas, Venezuela, on the same THX Energy plane for the funeral of former president Hugo Chávez. The flights to and from Perú were May 11 and 13. Many of the other flights were on the aircraft of other governments, and one was to Panamá on a security ministry craft.
Although Ms. Chinchilla suggested in her talk that she was in danger, the main problem appears to be bad publicity. The Spanish language media jumped on the issue Wednesday and cited stories in Colombian magazines that Morales had once been investigated years ago. Still, one lawmaker, Edgardo Araya Pineda, claimed in a press release that the life of Ms. Chinchilla was put in danger by the plane trip.
Thursday the press corps camped out in front of the Santa Ana home of former soccer standout Rolando Fonseca. He represents THX Energy in Costa Rica. He did not show, but La Nación ran 10 major articles about the case in the Wednesday edition and the Thursday update.
The newspaper revealed that Morales has been married briefly to a Costa Rica woman and used the marriage to gain residency here, suggesting a fake marriage. Such a situation is not unusual here. The marriage was in Colombia and the woman was represented by proxy.
The major television stations dedicated nearly their entire news times to the story Thursday evening. Much of the material was a repeat of what the written press has said earlier in the day. But Channel 7 interviewed a report in Bogotá who said the energy firm was well known and respected and that Morales was not the target of any investigation.