QCOSTARICA – Without any authority to do so, the legislative commission in charge of investigating the UPAD summoned President Carlos Alvarado to appear before the plenary session to question him, in a day-long session, characterized by opposition legislator Pedro Muñoz, as an “impeachment” trial.
The forced appearance by the head of the Executive Branch by the Legislative Branch is seen by some as a dangerous breakdown of the constitutional order.
Without any authority to do so, the commission in charge of investigating the Presidential Data Analysis Unit (UPAD) summoned President Alvarado to appear in plenary to subject him to interrogation.
Constitutional experts argue that the Political Constitution inaugurated in 1949 does not empower the legislators to question the president.
An editorial by La Nacion on Wednesday points out the “legislators understand the illegality of their endeavor”.
Especially revealing were the opening words of the president of the commission, Silvia Hernández, who insisted on denying the interpellation character of the interrogation and affirmed the commission’s adherence to the constitutional text, although she recognized the exceptionality of the presidential appearance before “an investigative commission.”
President Alvarado, whose attempt to have the commission members come to him, on his own turf at Casa Presidencial (Government House) failed, admitted the contradiction between his attendance at the plenary session and the oath to observe and defend the Constitution and the laws.
He could have chosen to appeal to the Constitutional Court to raise the conflict of powers, but he did not do so, alleging that this action would have undermined the confidence of the people, reinforcing their belief that he is trying to hide something.
A Constitutional challenge could have also led to a confrontation with the Legislative Branch when he and his administration needs them to approve the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
History in Costa Rica was rewritten on Wednesday and its consequences still unmeasured.
President Alvarado opened the session with: “Not one of the five million Costa Ricans has been spied on”.
He then warned that “the chapter of history that is being written today must never be repeated and that its possible consequences are still not able to be measured. Not because of Carlos Alvarado, but because of the institution of the Presidency of the Republic, for the leaders who will come, but above all for our democracy.”
“This collegiate body (UPAD investigative commission) has assumed functions that the Constitution does not assign to it, even after receiving clear and forceful criteria from the Department of Technical Services, in two opinions of 2014 and 2021.
“The Basic Law does not allow them (legislators) to question the President of the Republic, nor does it allow me to attend a veiled interpellation, like this one. However, I have reflected on this dilemma, and in honor of the citizens who have entrusted in me the temporary position of President and in keeping with my commitment and accountability to Costa Rica, I am here today to explain to the people of Costa Rica about the actions of the Data Analysis Unit,” said Alvarado.
The President made it clear that the Political Constitution prevents “questioning” the Head of State and Government.
“This is why I cannot help but
Everything you should know about the UPAD and the appearance of Carlos Alvarado
The Legislative Assembly held an appearance on Wednesday, February 10, 2021, starting at 10:00 and finalizing at 6:00 pm, for President Carlos Alvarado to refers the Presidential Data Analysis Unit (UPAD, the alleged access to confidential data of Costa Ricans by the government and abuse of power by the president.
What is UPAD?
The Unidad Presidencial de Análisis de Datos (UPAD) was a data analysis unit created by the President, with the aim of helping to make decisions.
Why was that support group dismantled?
When it became known that the organization handled confidential data of Costa Ricans, the president ordered the dismantling of the UPAD.
Is the president judicially investigated for this issue?
The Fiscalia (Prosecutor’s Office) raided Casa Presidencial (Government House) in search of evidence in February of last year, in its investigation of the president and others involved in alleged crimes of abuse of authority and malfeasance, among others.
What will happen bow, following the president’s appearance in the Legislative Assembly?
It is a political investigation carried out by legislators on the actions of the president. The hearing lasted all day, allowing all legislators to participate in the interrogation.
Why was the President opposed to the appearance in plenary?
For Carlos Alvarado, it is “a trap” with electoral political overtones. As stated previously, the Constitution does not allow the appearance of a president in the plenary. Faced with this situation, Alvarado preferred to appear and answer questions after the opposition accused him of not being transparent.
Can legislators establish any penalty against the president?
No, the Legislative Assembly – the unicameral Congress – cannot in any way establish sanctions on the president. However, it can make pronouncements of a moral character.