A politico-military entity is running rampant in the country with the complicity of the sitting president, Luis Guillermo Solis.
Costa Rica is well-known worldwide for its natural beauty, friendly population and protection of natural resources. It has even been called the Central American Switzerland.
The country has not had an active military since it was abolished over half a century ago. However, that does not mean that Costa Rica is a pristine destination.
The country, as many others in Latin America, has been ruled by oligarchs for decades, perhaps for as much as a century. Three families have enriched themselves for the past 35 years at the expense of Costa Rican tax payers by secretly monopolizing key sectors of the economy.
Parallel to the consolidation of economic activity in the hands of just a few individuals, government officials have been selling off the population to the highest bidding bankers. Costa Rica, as many other nations, has been in debt with international entities such as the IMF and the World Bank, among others.
Politicians have been ramping up public debt for decades as a means of obtaining popular support during political campaigns and in the last few years, a sinister increase in pseudo homeland security activity has been funded and encouraged by dominant political parties.
Right now, Costa Rica is occupied by American forces, both in uniform and in disguise. American corporations have hired agitators to pressure the government to adopt everything from fake free trade agreements to the militarization of the police and the installation of secretely operating intelligence entities that work without any supervision whatsoever.
In the 21st century version of Costa Rica, the puppet president does not know what is going on in departments that are supposed to be working under his supervision. Public servants can do whatever they want, whenever they want, with the complicity of the Congress and most of the mainstream media, whose ethics and decency have been compromised for a long time.
Just this week, President Solis admitted that the National Intelligence Service (DIS) operates at the will of its director, Mariano Figueres, the brother of both former president José María Figueres and current Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres Olsen.
The Figueres family is one of the top two dynasties of the country along with the Calderón family. Former presidents José María Figueres and Rafael Angel Calderón have already been under legal scrutiny for alleged irregularities in their private and public lives.
Figueres’ brother, Mariano, is now under the magnifying glass after he provided visas to a group of Syrian men, who he said were in the country to help the work of the intelligence services. The discovery of Figueres’ actions blew the lid in Costa Rica for what local media have reported as being the abismal lack of supervision with which Figueres and the DIS operate.
What was more surprising was President Solis’ statement that he did not know about the issuance of visas to Syrian nationals as he explained that Figueres and the DIS needed to have ‘independence of their own’ to carry out their work. In other words, a paramilitary agency is free to do what its director sees fit without the slightest supervision from the president or anyone else.
The confession was made by the president in an unusual and deeply troubling statement following the adjudication of visas by the director of the entity, Mariano Figueres, to eight Syrians who supposedly are experts on terrorism.
The president was not informed about the procedures that resulted in the concession of the visas, which he later labeled as completely normal. “Given the nature of their work, the DIS requires very high levels of discretion. Figueres has, on many occasions, rushed decisions without reporting to me,” said the president.
It is hard to imagine similar words in the mouths of leaders of other democracies and dictatorships even where intelligence agencies are confused with the exercise of power. Apparently, the Syrians were recommended by the secret services of some friendly countries whose names are unknown.
Put simply and without exageration, there is a shadow intelligence organization operating on Costa Rican soil under the command of a man who needs no authorization from the president or anyone else to make decisions that directly affect the security of the country.
Figueres acts upon his ‘best judgement’ and shares no information with the president on matters of national security, which creates an unacceptable risk to national security and civil liberties.
It is precisely the violation of constitutional rights what has prompted many Costa Rican people to ask why the president lets loose a man who, in the past has violated people’s rights indiscriminately. The president’s acceptance of this strange “normalcy”, where the DIS has always operated in what seems to be a parallel grey universe, under no supervision from the legislature or the judiciary, has Costa Ricans asking themselves how the Central American Switzerland became a nation ran by secret undemocratic agencies.
Facing the questionable background of the DIS and its potential for abuse, Costa Rica appears to have only a spoken guarantee of confidence from the president in the figure of the director of the agency. “I am confident of the work he has done. He has well defined responsibilities. There has been anything but appropriate actions to safeguard national security,” said the president.
What well-informed Costa Ricans are asking is how can the president be so sure that Figueres is doing the ‘right thing’ if he himself proclaims the freedom of the DIS to act secretely when no one fully knows details about the activities of the agency? But beyond that contradiction, the country cannot accept the trust granted by the president as a guarantee of the proper exercise of such sensitive functions. In any case, the president must recognize that knowingly or not, the final responsibility lies with him.
Beyond any internal actions that may violate citizens’ rights, any actions carried out by the DIS abroad could potentially impair the country’s relations with friendly nations, hindering the necessary cooperation or aggravating conflicts with neighboring governments, like that of Nicaragua.
Unfortunately, there does not seem to exist any urgency from the part of the president to uphold the rights and freedoms that are inherent to the Costa Rican way of life. The local press reported how the DIS has used its unlimited power to go after Costa Ricans, their rights and freedoms. In these cases, the president has taken zero responsibility for the grave violations committed by the DIS.
The agency has participated in monitoring and surveillance of Costa Ricans without trouble with the law, its officers have been involved in serious irregularities and criticisms have rained from various sectors of society, but not from the presidency.
Now Costa Rica knows that the DIS works without any respect for the constitution and that the country is in a moderate state of siege. It is in the hands of the citizens to demand that the Congress and President Solis establish a limit to what Figueres and the DIS can do. It is time for the DIS to start working under the rule of law, a reality that is consistent with Costa Rican democratic values.