QCOSTARICA – The presidential candidate of the Partido Progreso Social Democrático (PPSD), Rodrigo Chaves, acknowledges that there was an electoral crime in a parallel financing fund that was administered through a bank account by one of his associates, Sofía Agüero Salazar, a 24-year-old administrative assistant, and daughter of legislator elect Waldo Agüero.
Earlier this week, La Nación reported on a second parallel structure, through which thousands of dollars were used to finance expenses for the PPSD’s electoral campaign, specifically for candidates for deputies.
Between October 2021 and February 2022 – already in the middle of the electoral campaign that began on October 6 – Agüero received more than US$195,000 (about ¢127 million colones) in the Banco Nacional (BN) from businessman Jack Loeb Casanova. She admitted that, before October, she received other transfers under this scheme, although she did not remember the figure.
“I’m not sure,” she said, reported La Nacion on Tuesday, but did confirm that with these resources, electoral expenses such as communication and proselytizing material were paid. The money did not go through the party’s accounts, as established by the electoral law.
“That money was to support the campaign of legislators, especially from San José,” Sofía Agüero told La Nación.
Asked who decided how resources were used, she refused to refer to the subject, only would say, “In conversations, needs were identified and it was decided that resources needed to be moved.”
Then, she added: “The money was administered and responded to the wishes of those who wanted to support the campaign” and that she did not know if Rodrigo Chaves was aware of this second parallel financing fund: “I don’t know,” she said.
At least ¢5 million of those resources were used to pay for an advertisement on Televisora de Costa Rica in December 2021. The television ads were not focused on candidates for legislators, but on the presidential candidate.
After leaving the Radio Monumental debate Tuesday morning, where the two presidential candidates on the ballot for this Sunday, April 3, Chaves acknowledged that there was an electoral crime but denies having committed it.
In addition, the presidential candidate confirmed that he knows the younger Agüero and that he worked with her at the beginning of the campaign.
The Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (TSE) – Supreme Electoral Tribunal – is continuing a formal investigation into the financing of the PPSD candidate’s campaign. It has even been able to receive the bank records of the trust (Fidecomiso in Spanish) with which this campaign was also apparently financed.
For her part, legislator elect, Pilar Cisneros, and the woman and public figure many point to putting Chaves in the national spotlight, told La Nacion, “I did not know that about parallel fund managed by Sofía Agüero”.
Did you ever ask where the resources with which those external signs with your image were paid came from? Did you ever worry about the origin?
“I always knew it was with the bond sale. In fact, when the banks refused to finance the PPSD, many of us put personal resources to help, including me and Don Rodrigo Chaves. Money from my savings. That is why the campaign was super austere.
Cisneros maintains that she did not receive funds from the fund. “I can assure you that I have never received a single colon from anyone to finance my campaign for legislator. In fact, I never campaigned with signage. You will not see a single outdoor sign only with my image. Those with my face are always accompanied by other candidates and financed by them,” said Cisneros.
The legislator elect assured La Nacion that to her knowledge the resources for the outdoor signs came from the sale of bonds.
“I always knew it was with the bond sale. In fact, when the banks refused to finance the PPSD, many of us put up personal resources to help, including me and Don Rodrigo Chaves. Money from my savings. That is why the campaign was super austere.”
Costa Ricans go to the polls on Sunday in a run-off election between Chaves and Partido Liberacion Nacional (PLN) party presidential candidate, former President of Costa Rica from 1994-1998, José María Figueres Olsen.