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Junnier Salazar, PUSC’s candidate for vice mayor of La Cruz, was sanctioned twice

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Translator: Arianna Hernandez

Junnier Salazar, the former mayor (2016-2020) and current candidate for first vice mayor of La Cruz for the Christian Social Unity party, faced administrative sanctions imposed by the Comptroller General of the Republic (CGR) in 2018 and in 2021.

The first sanction was imposed for authorizing closing the municipality for two hours so that municipal officials could attend a baby shower, and the second was in 2021 for failing to meet the deadlines to formalize a direct contract.

Authorization to celebrate a Baby Shower

In July of 2018, through resolution 9359-2018, the CGR ordered the suspension of then-mayor Junnier Salazar for eight days without pay. The penalty occurred for having authorized the suspension of municipal services from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. in order for a group of municipal officials to attend a baby shower in 2016.

The controlling body reported that the invitation to the activity was sent to 59 institutional accounts from the email of Livex Obando Martínez, Human Resources assistant, who had authorization from then-mayor Salazar.

When consulted by The Voice of Guanacaste, the former mayor did not deny the fact but described it as a misunderstanding.

That was a play they made on me on purpose. If a colleague had a birthday, we would make her a little cake and we did so with two pregnant women. It was misinterpreted,” alleged the current candidate, Salazar.

On a list titled “Baby Shower Attendance Control,” the Comptroller’s Office identified the participation of 34 officials from the institution in the activity, which took place during working hours.

Although the controlling body could not confirm the total closure of the facilities, it concluded that the absence of the officials had a negative impact on the provision of municipal services and consequently, the former mayor was ordered to repay ¢347,000 (about $670), the sum of two hours salary of each of the officials who participated.

Why is a penalty imposed in this case?

According to Law 6227, public servants must perform their functions to satisfy the collective interest and the activity of public entities must be subject to the fundamental principles of public service to ensure its continuity and efficiency. In the case of the former mayor, the Comptroller’s Office described the authorization to attend the activity as a “serious offense.”

Two years without starting or resuming Public Treasury positions

Three years later, under a new file, the Comptroller’s Office prohibited Junnier Salazar from starting or resuming positions in the Public Treasury for two years, because in his capacity as mayor of La Cruz, he failed to meet the deadlines to formalize a direct contract.

It was a direct contract that was awarded in 2017 for ¢3,800,000 (about $7,300) to the company Crowe Horwath. To finalize the contract and execute it, former Mayor Salazar had to sign the contract and send it to the Municipal Procurement Office within a maximum period of five days.

Having been awarded in 2017, the project was within that year’s budget commitment, so the contract had to be signed and sent to Procurement before June of 2018, but that did not happen. Although the former mayor apparently signed the contract in January of 2018, the document didn’t get to the procurement department until eight months after the award and could not be executed.

When consulted by The Voice of Guanacaste, Salazar alleged that “it was another extortion that I unfortunately couldn’t prove to the Comptroller’s Office. It was a simple audit for a department that I just had to sign, they took the document, the assistant received it and that document never reached my hands. I couldn’t defend myself.”

The Municipal Code clarifies that the figure of the mayor must exercise the functions of general administrator, supervise the organization, operation, coordination and fulfillment of the municipal agreements.

Although the Comptroller’s Office declared Junnier Salazar responsible for a serious offense, since his term as mayor of La Cruz had ended in April of 2020, the sanction was unenforceable.