Tuesday 31 January 2023

‘Troll’ affirms he received orders to attack the press

'Piero Calandrelli' told a legislative commission that he was contacted by President Chaves during the electoral campaign

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31 January 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – Alberto Vargas, administrator of the ‘Piero Calandrelli’ troll, insisted that he received orders to attack the press from political figures linked to the party of President Rodrigo Chaves, the Partido Progreso Social Democrática (PPSD), in exchange for payment.

Alberto Vargas, the troll “Piero Calandrelli” (Photo Courtesy Legislative Assembly)

In his appearance, Vargas described the existence of a group of trolls, of which he admitted having been a part, whose objective is to attack journalists and legislators. He assures that he worked on behalf of the Minister of Health, Joselyn Chacón, Casa Presidencial staffer Mayuli Ortega and legislator and head of the PPSD caucus, Pilar Cisneros, for the work that he developed as a troll.

Vargas also indicated that he was contacted by President Rodrigo Chaves, during the electoral campaign.

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Vargas also told legislators that the Minister of Health asked him to maintain his support for the Government and attack the media, rejecting the minister’s original version that he only participated in a health campaign.

Read more: Fiscalia confirms investigation against minister for alleged embezzlement amid controversy over payments to ‘troll’

All this has been denied by the government, which during a press conference on Monday of this week, Chacón confirmed the payments made to Vargas, and supported by President Chaves, were made out of her own pocket and was a ‘charity’, given that Vargas had told her he was going through a difficult time economically.

“You have been defined as a political hitman. You a contract killer, but behind a political hitman there is always a mastermind. Could we say that Joselyn Chacón, Mayuli Ortega and Pilar Cisneros were the masterminds of all that assassination that you did?” asked legislator of the Frente Amplio, Ariel Robles.

Photo Courtesy Legislative Assembly

“Absolutely,” Vargas replied, apologizing for his actions.

“At the time I was paid, shamefully, yes. I accept my mistake and I offer my apologies. I have contacted several journalists to offer them my apologies. I feel very ashamed of myself and of the country. For what I was hired by Joselyn Chacón, it was effectively a digital hit man,” Vargas declared.

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Read more: Costa Rica’s “GAME of TROLLS”

“Everything was directed from Casa Presidencial,” he emphasized.

“Give it all”, was the indication that, according to Vargas, the Minister of Health gave him, when she wanted him to make a publication against a legislator, journalist or the media.

According to Vargas, the “all” was directed at the closure of the Parque Viva, a property and entertainment center owned by Grupo Nacion, also owner of La Nacion, the sale of the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR), and the Eurobonds.

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“The one that I considered the most unfair and that hurt me a lot was the entire offensive against Álvaro Ramos, former president of the CCSS. Personally, the instruction to attack Mr. Ramos came from Joselyn Chacón, an order that I did not comply with,” said Vargas.

Read more: Troll claims to have been paid by Health Minister for attacks on journalists

“This was the tone, apart from continuing the attacks on the rogue press, according to them, and on PLN legislators, such as Dinorah Barquero, Francisco Nicolás, Andrea Álvarez and also Mr. Ariel Robles, from the Broad Front,” declared Vargas.

At the end of the appearance, Vargas left the Assembly building in downtown San Jose, by an alternate exit, guarded by security personnel and without giving statements to the press.

Photo Courtesy Legislative Assembly

The Head of Security of the Legislative Assembly, Magaly Gutiérrez, affirmed that other appearing parties have also exited the building as such. In addition, she argued that there was no formal decision that he would be under protection, despite his assurance that he is the target of threats.

The members of the commission reiterated that they were waiting for more evidence that Vargas promised to provide to support his statements given under oath. In addition, the legislators did not rule out calling him again.

 

 

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