QCOSTARICA – All in Costa Rica are familiar with the name OAS, the Brazilian company that was awarded and then denied the concession to widen the autopista Bernardo Soto – the road west of the San Jose airpor to San Ramon road.
The awarding of the contract and then its cancellation, costing the taxpayers millions of dollars in compensation, was a scandal here.
But nothing like the widespread scandal in the OAS company’s native country where a rain of corruption indictments has fallen on the company CEO and the many others. And on documents scooped up by police were, apparently, the names of President Luis Guillermo Solis and his chief political rival Johnny Araya.
This, of course, made headlines here and revived grumbling that something fishy allegedly going on between the Brazilians and the Chinchilla Administration. But a quick examination of the references to Solis and Araya raises great questions but no real suspicions.
The references are brief, cryptic notes that executives used to make on their shirt cuffs at dinner parties before computers and multi-task smart phones took over. They reveal no background—indeed, no context—and expose no more criminal intent than milady’s grocery list would.
The President or his electoral campaign would be singularly unlikely recipients of OAS dirty money — he based a good part of his campaign on criticizing the unsavory parts of the Chinchilla Administration.
Araya, although a part of the National Liberation Party, is a member of the faction that split from the Arias-Chinchilla group and spent much of the campaign distancing himself from Chinchilla’s policies and his followers took hidden glee at the huge scandal surrounding Chinchilla Cabinet’s negotiations with OAS.
He has denied strenuously any tie with OAS and we here at this blog take him at his word. It just doesn’t make any sense that a competent politician like Araya would have any reason to accept funds from OAS. What promise could he or any other Costa Rican politico make to OAS after the company became identified with the scandal that mobilized demonstrations not only in San Ramon but drew such expression of loathing? Not another road contract.
Make no mistake — this case is BIG, but in Brazil, not here. It involves millions of dollars of bribes internationally. Under the circumstances, one cannot blame the Brazilian press nor that country’s authorities from paying close attention—after all, 36 persons have been indicted.
But the only mention of Araya is a cryptic note: “Solucion Johni Araia 5 X 35 $1.750.” If that’s a bribe, less than $2,000 — it’s pretty cheap. And that assumes that the name is really that of Araya written in a misspelled form in Portuguese, the language of Brazil.
Luis Guillermo Solis is written on the same sheet but the bribe — if it really is a bribe — is even more laughable: $1,250. Now, according to the charges in the corruption case, OAS is accused of giving a million dollars to the primary candidate in the Guatemalan election, so presumably bribes are part of the firm’s lifestyle.
But we rather think this sounds like the doodling of someone not seriously planning to influence an election. It looks like the skylarking of someone stuck in a very boring meeting.
Article by iNews.co.cr, with editing by the Q.