Saturday 19 June 2021

The Data Sleuths of San José

10/01/2004 SECA-20041001-pag-1(Via ForeignPolicy.com)  The real estate agent was angry. She had spent weeks helping her well-heeled client shop around for the house of his dreams — and now, just as they were about to close the deal, he announced that he was backing out.

The client explained that a generous friend had decided to buy the place instead — directly from the developer, thus bypassing the agent – and rent it out to him. The broker, deprived of her hard-earned fee, began venting to her friends.

In the fall of 2003 the story made its way to journalists at La Nación, the leading national newspaper in the Central American republic of Costa Rica. The reporters at the paper’s investigative unit pricked up their ears as soon as the disgruntled real estate agent spoke the name of her exasperating client: Eliseo Vargas, the man in charge of the country’s vaunted national health care agency. “We didn’t really know what she had,” recalls reporter Ernesto Rivera. “She was just angry she didn’t get her commission. She knew who the guy was but she didn’t know why he was acting that way.”

- Advertisement -

Rivera and his colleagues smelled a story. Yet as the journalists started digging into the tale of Vargas’s peculiar living arrangements, it never occurred to them that they were about to unravel a scandal that would upend their nation’s sedate political establishment. In the early 2000s, Costa Rica enjoyed a long-established reputation as the most prosperous and well-managed country in its region. But by the time the La Nación reporters were done, they had uncovered a wide-ranging web of corruption that extended through the political and business elite.

Along the way they derailed the careers of three ex-presidents, sending two of them to jail; prompted far-reaching legal reform; and jolted a major blow to a cozy political system that had, until then, been dominated by two main parties. Alejandro Urbina, the paper’s editor-in-chief at the time, puts it this way: “The current president wouldn’t be the president if we hadn’t published these stories.”

The three journalists who made up La Nación’s investigative unit — Giannina Segnini, Mauricio Hererra, and Rivera — deployed the full arsenal of traditional reporting techniques as they pursued the story. But the sheer magnitude of the financial and political information they unearthed prompted them to rely increasingly on computerized tools to rummage through databases that revealed unexpected connections. While tips from well-informed sources like the disgruntled real estate agent are vital, says Segnini, human sources also have limitations: “You can’t visit 160,000 people,” she notes. “But you can easily interrogate 160,000 records.”

… continue reading at Foreignpolicy.com

- Advertisement -

FACT CHECK:
We strive for accuracy in its reports. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, send us an email. The Q reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it’s accuracy.

Q24N
Q24N is an aggregator of news for Latin America. Reports from Mexico to the tip of Chile and Caribbean are sourced for our readers to find all their Latin America news in one place.

Related Articles

Since 2018 MECO has received contracts from the State for more than ¢139 billion

QCOSTARICA - Almost ¢140 billion colones (US$227 million dollars) is the...

OIJ investigation into road works corruption leads to inquiries in Panama

QCOSTARICA - The prestige of the company of some of the...

MOST READ

Today’s Vehicle Restriction June 17: 7 & 8 CANNOT circulate

Today, Thursday, June 17, vehicles with plates ending 7 & 8 CANNOT circulate The measure is countrywide and applied between 5:00 am and 9:00 pm,...

The Best Sports To Play On A Beach

Costa Rica has some of the best beaches in the world. The coastline is blessed with golden sand, beautiful palm trees, and perfect blue...

Immigration system failure affected passengers at the San Jose airport Monday

QCOSTARICA -  In yet another system-wide failure in the immigration check-out, passengers looking to leave Costa Rica Monday morning by way of the Juan...

Today’s Vehicle Restriction June 15: 3 & 4 CANNOT circulate

Today, Tuesday, June 15, vehicles with plates ending 3 & 4 CANNOT circulate The measure is countrywide and applied between 5:00 am and 9:00 pm,...

Vaccination commission endorses J & J vaccine, says no to Sinovac

QCOSTARICA - The Comisión Nacional de Vacunación y Epidemiología (CNVE)  - National Vaccination and Epidemiology Commission - endorsed the use of Johnson and Johnson...

Should the vaccination against covid-19 be opened?

QCOSTARICA - Six months after the start of vaccination against covid-19, will it be time to open the campaign to those who want to...

Your cell phone can now notify you if you had contact with a positive case of covid-19

QCOSTARICA - Fifteen months after the national emergency against covid-19 was declared, Costa Ricans will have a digital platform where you can be notified...

Diseases, weather and low prices hit the orange sector in Costa Rica

HQ - The appearance of pests and diseases, in particular the 'dragón amarillo' (yellow dragon), the impact of the weather and a sharp drop...

Nicaragua government assures that detainees violated one of the Ten Commandments

TODAY NICARAGUA – The vice president of Nicaragua and First Lady, Rosario Murillo, assured that those who feel persecuted are for the crimes they...

WANT TO STAY UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST!

Get our daily newsletter with the latest posts directly in your mailbox. Click on the subscribe and fill out the form. It's that simple!

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.