Committee studying procuradora allegations to meet again today

The current situation in which President Luis Guillermo Solís finds himself resembles that of U.S. president Richard Nixon shortly after the Watergate break-in in 1972.

Many U.S. commentators have said that if Nixon owned up to his responsibility for the burglary early in the scandal, he never would have had to resign.

Solís does not seem to be in any danger of resigning, but he and members of his administration have not been candid in the current flap around the procuradora general de la República, Ana Lorena Brenes.

A legislative committee decided Thursday to meet again today to determine what members will do.

For two days the committee, the Comisión de Control de Ingreso y Gasto Público, has heard the principal figures in the case. In addition to the procuradora, they heard Melvin Jiménez, the minister of the Presidencia, and former vice minister Daniel Soley.

Ms. Brenes claims that Soley threatened her or perhaps offered a bribe of an ambassadorship in a Jan. 6 meeting in order to get her to step down.

Soley, who has resigned, told the committee Thursday that the woman lied and that he might file a criminal complaint.

Jiménez said he did not know much about what his vice minister did and directed questions toward the president. However, the committee voted not to call the president in to testify.  Jiménez also said that the meeting between Soley and Ms. Brenes was of a personal nature and that he tried not to delve into the lives of his subordinates.

One lawmaker reminded him that he is a Lutheran bishop testifying under oath.

The complexities of the situation have not been lost on the public which quickly turned to jokes. One reporter was showing a graphic that represented Jiménez as an anchor. Radio talk shows were full of government criticism. The general theme was that citizens thought incorrectly they were electing a new type of government that would make radical and favorable changes. Even the Spanish language La Nación editorialized against politics as usual.

Jiménez has said he will not resign, and only the president can make him.

The president cannot fire Ms. Brenes because she was appointed by the Consejo de Gobierno for a six-year term and ratified by the Asamblea Legislativa. She has about a year left in her term. The ethical watchdog is part of her staff.

One theory is that the president wanted to appoint a new  procurador general and sent Soley to sound Ms. Brenes out about a possible ambassadorship. That is what she claims.

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