Mayor of Santa Cruz Can’t Be Reelected

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Any possibility that the mayor of Santa Cruz could be reelected in the municipal elections next year has been completely wiped off of the Guanacaste political map.

This was confirmed to The Voice of Guanacaste by Alvis Gonzalez, president of the Electoral Supreme Court and a member of the National Liberation Party (PLN- Partido Liberacion Nacional), who explained that the party can’t allow candidates who are involved in criminal proceedings.

Gonzalez explained that criminal proceedings appear in the National Registry of Criminals for the mayor of Santa Cruz, Jorge Chavarria.

The case against Jorge Chavarria is for “disobedience to authority” and was sentenced in 2011.

The mayor of Santa Cruz confirmed to The Voice of Guanacaste that he is appealing it since he believes the party’s decision was unfair.

On Saturday, August 29th Vice Mayor Maria Rosa Lopez Was elected to represent the party at the polls in 2016.

Vice Mayor of Santa Cruz Must Reimburse ¢70 Million of Salary and Pension Received

Other news that shook up the Municipality of Santa Cruz is that the vice mayor of Santa Cruz, Maria Rosa Lopez, must settle accounts with the municipality since she has received simultaneous payment of wages and pensions since 2010.

According to Article 20 of the municipal code, if the mayor or vice mayor receives a pension and does not give up their pension, they may only receive 50% of their total salary, so the municipal legal counsel indicated to the administrative department that Lopez is ordered to reimburse the excess.

According to the 2015 regular budget, Lopez receives a monthly base salary of ¢2,510,488.23 (approximately $4736.77), so it is estimated that she should return more than ¢70 million ($132,000) for the 53 months in office— from February 2011 until August 2015.

The report from the municipal legal advisor was exhibited during the municipal session on August 25th, in which the vice mayor claimed that everything has is political persecution.

“All of this is a matter of political persecution. I have a current ruling from the court that protects me, but these are people who want to do damage. However, I will take measures with my lawyers,” Lopez said.

In an article published in the May issue of The Voice of Guanacaste, Lopez explained that she filed a constitutional appeal in 2011 before the constitutional court against the municipality due to considering waiving the right to a pension unconstitutional. This appeal was upheld and the municipality was ordered to pay costs and damages caused to the vice mayor.

However, according to a report from the auditor of the Municipality, on March 27, 2012, the court reconsidered its position and issued a resolution that says that “it is clear that salary and pension, when they are paid with public funds, are mutually exclusive options since the latter has the purpose of substituting the first, so that legally it is inconceivable that both can coexist simultaneously.”

The Santa Cruz mayor, Jorge Chavarria, confirmed to The Voice of Guanacaste that the human resources department is conducting a study to determine how much money Lopez should pay up and reach a payment agreement.

Vice Mayor without Prohibition

The opinion issued by the legal department of the Municipality also established that the prohibition payment should be suspended and she should be required to reimburse the money for the time it was received.

The prohibition is a bonus established by the Law against Corruption and Illicit Enrichment in Public Service so they do not work outside of the entity to which they belong. This benefit represents an additional 65% of the base salary.

The report indicates that Lopez does not meet the requirement of being a graduate of a “liberal” profession. Liberal professions are all those areas that can provide services in other places, such as lawyers.

In addition to having a bachelor’s degree from the National University in Education Sciences with a specialization in teaching and took courses in Educational Administration, but she does not have the title that accredits her as such.

The vice mayor stated that this payment was suspended a couple of months ago although the legal report had not yet been issued.