Most of the municipal council members showed dismay upon learning that the recent Annexation Cultural Festival, held July 20-26, did not have an operating permit or a health authorization from the Ministry of Health.
The announcement was made during the session on Monday, July 27th, after reading a document written by the Mass Gatherings Technical Advisory Committee, which sent a resolution on Friday, July 24th, to the council members, requesting that they suspend the event due to not complying with the law.
The resolution was received by the council’s assistant secretary, but wasn’t made known to the council until Monday, when the municipal president, Juan Luis Aguirre, was notified.
The Mass Gatherings Committee for the festival was made up of local representatives from the Ministry of Health, the National Emergencies Commission, the Public Force, Red Cross, the fire department, traffic police and the Municipality of Nicoya, and has the function of supervising and authorizing massive or high-risk events.
Juan Antonio Eras, chief of the Public Force for the canton, who was part of this committee and was at the municipal session, explained that the representative from the Ministry of Health revised the permits granted for the festival and realized that non had been issued in the name of the festival’s organizing entity, so he proceeded to inform the advisory committee.
“We [the committee] held an emergency meeting because most of the institutions believed that most of the permits [for the festival] were already granted, and when we made the assessment [on Friday, the 24th], we realized that [the festival organizers] requested a copy of the record from the previous year and that was as far as they went. The did not present the permits,” Eras said.
In addition, Eras added that “upon reviewing the applications for large events and records of the Ministry of Health, the members of this group realized that the requirements were not presented to hold the festival, which was classified as a AAA event, in other words high risk, so then what the commission does is communicate that there permits were not generated and the risk is transferred to the organizer.”
Despite the warning sent on Friday, the 24th, most of the council members didn’t find out until the session on Monday, a situation that took them by surprise and raised concerns.
Council member Ana Lizeth Espinoza said, “We have always sought that matters are carried out in accordance with the law, and if the municipality has given [liquor] licenses without the corresponding permits, this is a serious offense.”
Espinoza was referring to the fact that, to be able to sell alcohol at a large event, a business owner must apply to the municipality for a temporary liquor sales license. To obtain this license, operating and health permits granted by the Ministry of Health must be presented. In this case, the organizers of the festival never presented the permits of the business owners.
Likewise, council member Carlos Medina said, “I am outraged by this situation that has happened. This is disrespectful, and the worst part is that it [was done] by the municipal authorities. This document arrived on the 24th at 11 a.m. and nothing was communicated to the president of the council or to me as municipal vice president.”
On the other hand, council member Rodolfo Orozco was upset because, according to him, the Ministry of Health does the same thing every year with the cultural activities that are organized.
“What bothers me is that every July 24th, the Ministry of Health sends a document for us to stop the cultural activities. This council does not have to stop anything. This council just approves the license for them. If we had stopped the activities on July 24th, then we would have stopped too, because July 25th is massive with the arrival of the president,” Orozco affirmed.
During Monday’s session, the mayor, the vice mayor and the person in charge of permits were not present to explain what happened.
In light of this situation, it was decided to refer the matter to the mayor’s office and convene the Mass Gatherings Committee to give a report during a future session.