Culture minister asks that probe be hurried

Elizabeth Fonseca, the culture minister, is urging the chief prosecutor’s office to expedite a potential investigation into business deals made under the ministry during the previous administration from 2011 to 2014.

After local news reports surfaced that a majority of the ministry’s contracts were given to one purveyor, Ms. Fonseca said last week’s complaint presented before the Ministerio Público, the nation’s prosecutorial office, needs to be immediately addressed. She first called for an investigation more than a week ago.

“For the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud it’s important to make any necessary corrections, bring peace to our ministry and give transparency to the citizen,” she said.

Ms. Fonseca said that this move is not a political persecution of the past administration but, instead, a formal investigation meant to uphold a promise of anti-corruption. The complaint stems from a directive via President Luis Guillermo Solís following checks of all public entities made after he took office.

His investigators in the culture ministry reported questionable expenses that were charged for five major cultural events. Those in question are the Festival de las Artes, Enamorate de tu Ciudad, Colegio de Costa Rica, Festival Internacional, and the Feria Internacional del Libro.

Ms. Fonseca claims her ministry’s investigation found that since 2011 spending on these programs had rocketed when compared to past years. The minister of Cultura y Juventud under the Laura Chinchilla administration was Manuel Obregón.

Ms. Fonseca added that people have complained about the ministry’s function and an apparent lack of novel ideas, to which she rebutted that nothing was further from the truth. She said that plans can take time to carry out, but that her team has dedicated itself to a different approach in which action is taken for the citizen’s interest.

“We have to show there’s a different path that we are going to take when it comes to leading the culture ministry,” she said. “This is only demonstrated through actions, and actions cannot be executed all in the same day.”

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