Monday 6 February 2023

Costa Rica’s “GAME of TROLLS”

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4 February 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – After accepting that she did give money to Alberto Vargas Zúñiga, administrator of the fictional character Piero Calandrelli on social networks, the Minister of Health, Joselyn Chacón, clarified that hse did it for charity and never to attack the media or journalists.

From social networks

“I made a mistake in trusting a person who said he was a single father, with three young daughters and that his daughters were hungry because he had neither a job nor to pay for the internet.

I never hired him for the electoral campaign, much less to attack the press, he was the one who said that he was attracted to Rodrigo Chaves’ campaign and that he wanted to collaborate,” said Chacón on Monday.

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On December 29, 2022, Chacón assured that she gave the troll money for a health campaign. However, this Monday, both Chacón, and her boss, President Rodrigo Chaves indicated that the transfers made were due to “donations for charity”, in the latest episode of the “Game of Trolls” being played out in Costa Rica’s political arena.

Joselyn Chacón, Minister of Health, is in the middle of the controversy with the troll Piero Calandrelli.

The first version of the minister came out after Vargas Zúñiga declared, on December 22, that the Minister had paid him for months to produce and publish attacks against journalists on social networks.

On Monday, at a press conference, President Chaves confirmed the payment of ¢300,000 colones, made in three monthly payments, but denied they were for anything more than a charitable cause.

In total, the President said the donations made to the troll(s) amounted to ¢450,000, turning the tables on legislators digging into the allegations regarding the use of trolls in the campaign and in the government to supposedly attack the press and the opposition, saying that “instead of wasting time determining the details of a ¢450,000 donation, legislators should focus on more relevant issues for the country.”

“We are talking about ¢450,000, private money, from people who wanted to spend it that way, while a legislator earns more than ¢4 million a month, plus (bonuses for) gasoline and cell phones and there are Francisco Nicolás, Dinorah Barquero and other legislators from the Frente Amplio, tearing their investitures. This fuss is not justifiable, when there are many things to do, it is irresponsible to waste time, what a shame the resources invested in these people, who earn ¢4.5 million a month, plus a car, advisors, ushers, gasoline, plus that building, to ask what happened to those ¢450,000. It is not worth doing an investigation on this matter,” Chaves said.

“Costa Rica deserves to have clear answers about this,” said Ariel Robles, a representative from the Frente Amplio, upon returning this Monday following the year end/new year recess.

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“The opponents referred to the need to investigate the issue as soon as possible,” added Robles, with the support of the PUSC, the Liberal Progresista and other political parties.

The troll, Alberto Jesús Vargas Zúñiga, known as “Piero Calandrelli” has generated controversy in the country for the alleged payment by the minister Joselyn Chacón to attack journalists

“The focus of the (legislative) commission on this issue should be on the use and, above all, how the trolls were paid during the electoral campaign,” said legislator Jorge Dengo of the Partido Liberal Progresista.

Despite the change of position by Minister Chacón and the words of President Chaves, legislators plan a political investigation, while Chacón’s position is at risk.

 

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