Carlos Acosta Monge, former director of the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad (CONAVI), the National Roads Authority, told the Spanish language daily La Nacion, “Este (la trocha) fue un proyecto de guerra” (this was a project of war).
Them’s fighting words from a man of a country that touts itself as the Switzerland of Central America and prides itself of being th only country in the Americas without an army.
The former director of the CONAVI – who admits that his only regret was accepting the post of director – is one six defendants who, for now, is being accused of irregularities in the construction of the border trail.
Although it ordered his arrest, the Fiscalía (Attorney General) for his participation in what appears to be the largest ever scam against the public, the Juzgado Penal de Hacienda – the criminal court of the Treasury – did not consider it necessary to impose on him preventive detention (jail) while the investigation continues.
In the interview with the La Nacion’s Irene Vizcaíno, Acosta said is free to leave the country if wants, but does not choose to, claiming his innocence that will be vindicated int he end.
According to Acosta, the whole thing has its roots back in 2010, a few days before leaving on vacation, when he was called to Casa Presidencial (Government House) at a meeting with José María Tijerino, then ministro de Seguridad Publica; Francisco Jiménez, then ministro de Obras Publicas (MOPT); Marcos Vargas, then ministro de la Presidencia; Vanessa Rosales, then and still head of the Comision Nacional de Emergencias (CNE); and Wálter (Navarro), then head of the national police force, now vice-ministro de Seguridad; and (Carlos) Roverssi, of the Foreign Ministry.
In his version of the story, the orders came from the top and he followed, with machinery beginning work on the project, even though there was no government decree.
Acosta says he acted on good faith, in the same way when the CONAVI was put into action following the Cinchona earthquake. But, as the events unfold over time, to light comes the “chorrizero” (corruption) that was going on and every one started ducking for cover.
“What happened to this project? A lot of interest without control?”, he was asked. He ,responde, “NO, what is happening with the project. Since its start it was a successful one, everyone was happy. Nobody said anything until…”
For sure it will be some time before, if ever, investigators get to the bottom of the whole thing. In the meantime, the country is living a shame for what was once billed one of the most important public works projects of all time.
The border road runs along the south side of the San Juan river, a river that belongs to Nicaragua but Costa Rica has navigational rights under an century old agreement.
And it is those rights, combined with the alleged invasion of Nicaraguan troops of the Isla Calero (Harbour Head in Nicaragua), that Costa Rica saw to defend its rights of sovereignty and the navigation of the river by local residents and tourists.
While the case of the Isla Calero/Harbour Head dispute follows in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Costa Rica decided to not wait the outcome of the dispute and build a land route.
“We Didn’t Inaugurate, We Baptized”, Presidenta Laura Chinchilla said in February of this year in “officially” opening Ruta 1856, the “Ruta Juan Rafael Mora Porras”.
However, if you ask any Tico (Costa Rican) directions to the Ruta Juan Rafael Mora Porras you will get a shrug. Ask for La Trocha and everyone knows it. Or at least knows about. Some even wishing they had been part of it (the chorrizero). Better the lottery!
Even before the scandal of corruption broke there were accusations of environmental damage to the area’s eco system, the Nicaragau alleged invasion was a political ploy by the Sandinista government of the north and that the road was goig to resurrect the failing of the Presidenta Chinchilla, among other things.
I remember when the Isla Calero/Harbour Head situation flared. There was even concern that war would break between the two neighbouring countries. And with Costa Rica without an army? no, problems the Americans were close by. Sarcastically many wondered what would happen with all the maids and construction workers who clean Costa Rica’s homes and put its buildings?
One story recently found on a Facebook post has that Nicaragua’s president, Daniel Ortega and Costa Rica’s, Laura Chinchilla, colluded to a plot with the idea of an invasion that would assure Ortega’s re-election (he was) and line the pockets of Chinchilla’s friends (it appears it may be so). Both Ortega and Chinchilla have not spoken publically since the. In fact Chinchilla refused to attend SICA meetings which Ortega presided. And will they as Costa Rica takes over the SICA presidency for his semester?
In any event, this story is long, long from over. It will be years before investigators can pronounce, if at all, what really happened and who was or wasn’t involved.
Photos of La Trocha all over the internet
And lastly, Karina Bolaños – remember her, the government official who was fired for her scandalous video – may have said it best… “the president of my country only protects the corrupt”. This photo and video made the news worldwide.