Central government officials have had to dump legislative proposals twice in less than two months. That coupled with the collapse of the Festival Internacional de las Artes and a Sala IV ruling Friday is raising doubts even among supporters of the president’s hold on management.
The latest reversal took place Friday when the Instituto Nacional de Vivienda y Urbanismo withdrew a proposed regulation that would have prevented many landowners from developing their properties.
That decision followed the withdrawal in April of a draft of a radio and television law put forth by the Ministerio de Ciencia Tecnología y Telecomunicaciones. That draft would have given the government the power to shut down stations that it didn’t like. The bill had been copied from similar laws in authoritarian regimes.
Then Friday, the Sala IV overturned a decision by the former culture minister to withdraw funding from an orchestral production of “Cocorí.” The orchestral work was based on a popular children’s book by the same name. Some lawmakers objected because the principal character is a black youngster from Limón.
The court said that the decision by Elizabeth Fonseca, the then-minister, amounted to prior censorship. She is the same minister who just lost her job over the collapse of the arts festival.
A report characterized the problems with the festival as a breakdown in communications between key players. But the radio and television law, the decision on “Cocorí” and the proposed regulation of land use all involve fundamental rights.
The land-use measure, the subject of an extensive news story Friday, was at least heavy-handed. The purpose was to prevent urban sprawl by restricting development outside the urban cores. The measure had caused an uproar in development circles, which is why it was withdrawn.
Still, the drafters of the regulation must have lacked some basic knowledge of the Costa Rican Constitution. Even the legislature would not be able to impose such rules.
The debacle with the radio and television law might have just been sloppy work. Those involved admitted that the text had been copied from other governments. That suggests either that the officials did not read the final draft or that they agreed with the thrust of the measure.
Both the land-use and the radio and television drafts were pulled on orders from Casa Presidencial. Either officials there did not know about the drafts, or they simply responded to political pressure
President Luis Guillermo Solís can argue in the case of the land-use measure that he was outside of the country drumming up investments for Costa Rica. But presumably he had a role in hiring the top oficials involved.
Those involved with the radio and television law lost their jobs, as did Ms. Fonseca and some of her staff.