The struggle by President Luis Guillermo Solís to save the country’s secret investigative service, the Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad (DIS), from being eliminated is not being helped by statements of its director and friend of the president, Mariano Figueres.
The new group of the legislators that took office on May 1, declared themselves enemies of the DIS and last week legislators of the Movimiento Libertario, Otto Guevara, the Partido Accion Cuidadana (PAC), Ottón Solís (no relation to President Solís) and Alianza Democratica party, Mario Redondo, strong back a bill to kill the DIS entirely.
The DIS has been accused in the past of overstepping its duties to harass opposition politicians. President Solís, in defending the keeping of the DIS, made clear that combating corruption was not one of agency’s duties
This was completely contradicted by DIS Director Figueres who has vowed publicly to take on corruption. On Thursday Solíss scrambled to distance himself from that claim.
The Prez had made it clear that the judicial police, the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) is for investigating crimes, including corruption. Solís held firmly that there are police units to combat drug trafficking, organized crimes and corruption and the role of the DIS is one of support, providing intelligence to the police. “The responsibility of the DIS lies elsewhere”, said the President.
The DIS is an agency under the sole control of the Ministerio de la Presidencia, that is works directly for the president’s office (the Executive branch) and not the country’s Judicial branch of government, thus making it a political entity rather than one under the control of the Judiciary.
In his statements, DIS director Figueres said he would go after organized crime, while President Solís’ vision for the DIS is more towards combating industrial espionage and threats against the country’s sovereignty, supporting the border police controls.
Heeding to the President’s vision for the DIS, Figueres backed down from his previous statements, denying he had intended to supersede the OIJ’s investigative role, rather would be an agency that gathers information from legal sources, ie local police, the press, social media, etc. and turn over its findings to the property legal authority.
The problems lawmakers have with the DIS are twofold. One, past tactics of the agency that included the harassing of politicos (political figures, which includes legislators) and two, the President’s eleventh hour naming of Figueres as director of the spy agency.
Figueres, before taking office on May 8, had assured legislators that he would not name Figueres to any government post, but, within a few hours before his inauguration announced the appointment that took everyone by surprise.
Defending his decision, Solís reminded critics that Figueres hold two Masters degrees from Stanford Universit in California, in management and administration.
But unsettling to critics is the close friendship between Solís and Figueres, a friendship that dates back to their days together at the Partido Liberacion Nacional (PLN), a party founded by Figueres’ father. Both Solís and Figueres abandonded the PLN in 1995 for the same reason.