QCOSTARICA – The government of Carlos Alvarado was quick to respond to the police action on Monday, November 15, which resulted in the arrest of six mayors of major municipalities in Costa Rica, along with seven other municipal officials, for alleged corruption in the contracting of public works.
Three of the mayors detained, Johnny Araya, Alfredo Córdoba and Alberto Cole, the mayors of San José, San Carlos and Osa, respectively, have more than fifteen years each the helm of their municipal governments.
In the case of Araya, his trajectory at the municipality of San Jose is more than thirty years. Eight presidents have come and gone in the three decades and Araya has remained in the Municipality of San José since 1991 when he took office as municipal executive. In 2013, he temporarily stepped down to make a run in the 2014 elections for President of Costa Rica. As the favored candidate in that election cycle, he lost to Guillermo Solis, bringing him back to the municipality.
As to the others, Córdoba has been in power for 19 years, Cole, 15 years. Arnoldo Barahona has been running things in Escazú for the last 11 years. The other two, Mario Redondo and Humberto Soto, from Cartago and Alajuela, respectively, are the newcomers, have been in office for less than two years.
The bill presented on Monday seeks to reform Article 14 of the Municipal Code, which would establish that municipal leaders could only access one re-election for a maximum period of eight consecutive years.
Subsequently, they could run again for office, provided that four years have elapsed (one period in between).
The bill also extends the regulation to vice mayors, councilors, and trustees.
Currently, municipal officials can remain in office indefinitely.
The initiative was included in the Congress agenda just hours after the Organismo de Investigacion Judicial (OIJ) arrest of the six mayors.