Thursday 29 September 2022

Carlos Alvarado is the “big chief” of the Data Unit, according to opposition legislators

The government did not have the endorsement from the Ministry of Planning to create a special office

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29 September 2022 - At The Banks - BCCR

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The Unidad Presidencial de Análisis de Datos (Upad) – Presidential Data Analysis Unit – which has generated a political storm, was promoted and directed personally by President Carlos Alvarado, according to opposition legislators, who earlier this week launched an attack against the Government.

Legislator Ivonne Acuña is one of a number of legislators critical of the UPAD and the role of President Carlos Alvarado. “At Casa Presidencial they believe that they can do what they want with the confidential information of the inhabitants”, said Acuña.

The appearance before the Legislative Assembly of Víctor Morales, Ministro de la Presidencia (Chief of Staff), was transformed from an accountability to a hard political interrogation.

During the marathon session – for more than six hours – it was discovered that the Upad did not have the endorsement of the Ministry of Planning for its creation, which contradicts the decree itself that indicated it.

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The legislators also stressed that the president was directly responsible for said office, which is being investigated by the Ministerio Publico (Prosecutor’s Office) for the crimes of prevarication, abuse of authority and violation of personal data.

“It is clear that the only person responsible for the Upad is the president, he was the big chief,” said Pablo Heriberto Abarca, PUSC legislator, referring indirectly to the corruption scandal that splashed the previous government with the Chinese cement.

Generated harsh reprimands during the appearance was the fact that Morales accepted that there was “an omission of reading” of the final document, which supported the use of confidential data of Costa Ricans.

In that sense, the Chief of Staff said that the head of the office of Casa Presidencial (Government House) was the person in charge of coordinating the Upad work team.

“Unfortunately, this discussion has taken place amid exaggerations, speculation, suspicion and lies (…), but I have to admit that there was political awkwardness. On my part, there was an omission of reading, leisurely and relaxed. If I had, we would not be in this discussion,” Morales said.

Despite the scandal, the Government reaffirmed the need to govern based on data analysis, since ignoring this global trend, “would be to condemn citizenship to ignorance and limit the creation and innovation capacities of governments and societies,” Morales added.

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Another to strongly criticize is Ivonne Acuña, legislator for the Neuva Republica.

“Doubts? Too many. Document and version analysis? A lot. Annoyance and outrage? Yes, the same that millions of Costa Ricans feel after learning about how at Casa Presidencial they believe they can do whatever they want with the confidential information of the inhabitants,” said Acuña.

Silvia Hernandez, party whip for the Parido Liberacion Nacional (PLN) said “In the Mideplan file it is very clear that the creation of the Upad is not authorized, but in the Government’s own decree it is stated that there was the endorsement of that institution. This shows us that either legislators do not know how to read, or it is a lie. The country requires answers.”

President Carlos Alvarado and seven other government officials could go to jail for up to six years if the Prosecutor’s Office manages to prove that a crime was committed with the creation of the Upad and the handling of private information.

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On Friday, February 28, 2020, the Attorney General’s Office and the Prosecutor’s Office raided Casa Presidencial and several other offices, in search of evidence to support filed complaints.

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