Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla said that her country’s image is larger than any scandal.
Chinchilla first appeared yesterday before the press, after the scandal regarding her trip to Peru last week in a private plane that is linked to a Colombian businessman with alleged ties to drug trafficking.
While the president acknowledged that the news leaked in international media, “the image of our country is much bigger than this event, I feel much stalled locally,” she said after a meeting with her cabinet.
The president said that errors were committed by her close associates. She noted that given her duties as president does not allow time for her to manage her own agenda and coordinate the logistics of her trips.
Chinchilla said her responsibility now is to facilitate investigations by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security regarding businessman Gabriel Ricardo Morales, who according to a magazine report Colombia Week 2007, is linked to the operations of Colombian drug trafficker Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia, known as “Chupeta”.
Morales said Monday on a local channel that Chinchilla did not know that the plane he traveled with and the president used is not property of “Chupeta” and rejected any link with the drug cartel.
Colombian prosecutors recently confirmed that indeed there is ongoing research on Morales.
The scandal began last May 11, when a brief statement of the Presidential reported a sudden trip of the president to Peru to attend the wedding of a son of his second vice president.
A private jet transport was responsible for Chinchilla, her husband, their ministers of Communication and Foreign Trade, spouses Francisco Chacon and Anabel Gonzalez, and the head of Office, Irene Pacheco.
The sudden trip, to which was added a brief visit to the Peruvian President Ollanta Humala on Monday 13, generated suspicion among the local press until CRHoy.com ran the aircraft registration and provenance.
The Cessna 525B Jet with U.S. registration N93CW is owned by Cessna Finance Corp, and is used by the Canadian capital company THX Energy under a contract for “leasing” as registered with the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States.
THX Energy has oil extraction operations in countries such as Peru and Colombia, which warned of a possible conflict of interest since the Costa Rican government in previous days talked about their interest in having natural gas as an alternative energy source.
After returning from Peru, May 15 Chacon spoke to reporters and said that there was no conflict or interest of the company. He said that the company in Costa Rica is small and devoted to agriculture, but nothing related to the extraction of natural gas in the country.
On who was responsible for making contact to use this aircraft, drew Chacon Protocol Address Presidential House, and said that contact was made through the aircraft pilots.
New information revealed by CRHoy indicates that Chacon and Pacheco met with the representative of THX: Morales, a Colombian Costa Rican citizen.
Days later Chacon resigned as Minister of Communication and said he did not know the true identity of Morales. Pacheco also resigned.
The president promised to stop using private jets for travel during the remainder of her administration, which ends in May 2014.
The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San Jose Costa Rica