The Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (TSE) – Costa Rica’s election tribunal – ordered the Partido Restauración Nacional (PRN) led by Fabricio Alvarado not to use religion to attract votes and ask for private contributions.

On March 16 the PRN presidential candidate, Fabricio Alvarado, met with a hundred pastors in a church located in Tibás to ask them to manage donations to face the second round of elections and to convince their parishioners about the need to vote for him. In the above photo Fabricio is accompanied by his candidate for first Vice President, Ivonne Acuña. Photo: Alejandro Gamboa Madrigal

The TSE said it issued the precautionary measure after receiving 86 complaints about mixing religion with politics.

All these claims come after the meeting of PRN presidential candidate Fabricio Alvarado and hundreds of evangelical pastors from the seven provinces on March 16, held at the International Biblical Temple, in Tibás, San José.

The meeting, which coordinated the help of the pastors in the elections on Sunday, April 1, was recorded and the 1 hour and 41 minutes of the meeting broadcast this past Sunday by Interferencia news of the University of Costa Rica (UCR) radio stations.

The Director of the TSE, Hector Fernandez, said that for now, it is a guideline to not mix religion with politics but if there is recidivism the Penal Code allows a prison sentence from six months to three years.

Listen to an audio clip of the March 16 meeting of Fabricio Alvarado and the pastors.

Specifically, the order is directed at the President of the PRN Executive Committee, Carlos Luis Avendaño, the Candidate for the Presidency, Fabricio Alvarado and the PSN Superior Executive Committee.

Fernandez explained that, according to Article 126 of the Electoral Code, “the parallel management of private contributions is forbidden so that no person or group of people can take steps in this direction for the benefit of the political party, without due authorization.”

“It should be noted that, in all cases, the donor must be fully identified and the time of receipt will be verified by proof of bank deposit or the official receipt issued by the party, as appropriate. The treasurer shall be obliged to inform the Court of these to the deadlines set forth in article 132 of the Electoral Code,” Fernández warned.

In the event that the TSE determines that the Restauracion party is guilty of failure to observe the limits of the propaganda invoking religious motives, it could be subject to a fine of ten to fifty basic salaries and, if it is determined that there would be infractions related to the financing supporters, those who contribute through third parties, groups or parallel organizations could be punished with imprisonment for two to four years.

Source (in Spanish): La Nacion