Thursday 26 January 2023

Chinese Cement Scandal Monopolizes President’s Independence Speech In Cartago

President Luis Guillermo Solis guarantees that he will take the necessary actions to "punish whoever has to be punished" in the Chinese cement corruption allegation involving the Banco de Costa Rica

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26 January 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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The face of a president who in his last months of his mandate is battling one of the strongest allegation of corruption in his government and public institutions, in particular the multi million dollar loan by the BCR for import of cement from China. President Luis Guillermo Solis used the Independence speech in Cartago on Thursday to address the issue.

Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solis can’t seem to get out of the mix of the cement scandal that has been the headline all week long, as questions to continue over the US$30 million dollar credit by the state bank, the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR), for the import of cement from China.

To concrete his position on the matter, Solis used the Independence speech in Cartago on Thursday night.

Faced with a crowd that filled the central park in Cartago, Solís said that his government guarantees that it will take the necessary actions to “punish whoever has to be punished” when it has the technical reports of the Superintendencia General de Entidades Financieras (Sugef) – Superintendency of Financial Entities – on the actions of the Board of Directors of the BCR, that extended the multimillion dollar credit to entrepreneur, Juan Carlos Bolaños, owner of the Sinocem.

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“It is so sad to hear that there have been recent serious doubts about the goings on at the state bank and also in some corridors of power, in the administration of a loan granted to an entrepreneur questioned for the improper handling of political influences to promote interests that are not those of the country. As Costa Ricans, as a government, we must not tolerate these acts of corruption that have occurred or traffic of any influence,” said Solís in his speech to the nation.

He added that his administration will not tolerate “not even the suspicion” about possible corruption with respect to the import of cement from China to break the oligopoly of Holcim and Cemex.

“We must not tolerate even the suspicion that there have been in the officials of the Executive Power, or of any other power of the Republic, a faint intention to put at risk the interests of the people of Costa Rica, or the iron will of the Government of Costa Rica. the Republic of not allowing impunity for any indication of corruption, ” said the president while raising the voice to compete against the shouts and the boos directed to him from a small group of demonstrators, members of the Youth of the Wide Front, who accused him of corruption in the cement case.

To calm the waters, Solis said he has demanded the resignation of Partido Accion Cuidadana (PAC) legislator Victor Moralez Zapata after the media revealed his ties with Juan Carlos Bolaños. However, the legislator did not quit his seat in the Legislative Assembly, rather cut his ties to the PAC and declared himself an independent.

That was the mood Thursday night in what is the last speech in the Old Metropolis, the affectionate name for Cartago as it was once the capital city of Costa Rica, before he leaves power on May 8.

The rest of the president’s speech concentrate his government’s achievements, which was met by more shouts, including the voice of Mario Redondo, legislator for the Alianza Democráta Cristiana (ADC), criticizing the deficit in the roads infrastructure for Cartago.

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“The government is in debt with Cartago, principally with the improvements to the Florencio del Castillo highway, to which it has done nothing in spite of the approval of two bills for such,” said Redondo.

PLN legislator Paulina Ramírez resounded Redondo’s position. “The legislator approved this in 2014 and we have seen nothing,” was among the comments made by Ramirez.

In the past week the president has been seen disturbed by the events surrounding the China cement situation, perhaps fearing that his mandate will close come to close with a black stain on an administration that, for better or for worse, he has promoted transparency and spoken out against corruption.

Solis will hand over the presidential sash to a new president on May 8. Under Costa Rica’s constitution, consecutive re-elections is not permitted. In any event, Solis made it clear during his first year of his administration that this would be his only term in office, he would not seek reelection in the future.

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