The fiestas in Santa Cruz have always paid for themselves and left profits, but that did not happen this time during the traditional fiestas since the expenses were much higher than anticipated, leaving the fiestas committee unable to pay all of their commitments: debts exceeding ¢20 million ($38,000).
They owe almost ¢12 million ($22,800) just to JC de Liberia, the security company. This company provided 122 security officers to cover the event, but the commission paid them with two checks that bounced, one for ¢5,880,000 ($11,200) and the other for ¢5,762,400 ($11,000).
The Carrillo Red Cross and a group of performers had similar experiences, including marimba players, and owners of cimarrona bands and inflatable games.
Rene Cabalceta, vice president of the commission, said the losses are due to the commission having to install water pipes in the fairground behind the market, investing ¢9 million ($17,000). In addition, the Public Force required them to hire more private security officers than they had anticipated.
“This year we did not do so well. It is almost certain that we will have losses, but we are still waiting for some money to come in on behalf of sponsors, and we are going to see if that is enough for us to pay, and if necessary, we will hold activities so as not to let down these people,” stated Cabalceta.
Using the Plaza and Fairgrounds Generates Losses
Carlos Chavarria, a member of the 2015 National Traditional Fiestas Commission, said that holding the bull riding in Los Mangos Plaza and other activities at the fairgrounds was a mistake because they invested double, although the profits are the same as when only one place was used.
The reason for doubling the space is because the Ministry of Health has prohibited setting up bars, dance halls and food and drink vendors in Los Mangos Plaza.
According to Chavarria’s calculations, the commission felt the loss of more than ¢40 million ($76,000).
“The members of the fiestas commission wanted to please the people and focused on maintaining the tradition but did not foresee the costs,” explained Chavarria.
From 2013 to 2015, these celebrations left between ¢16 and ¢18 million ($30,500 and $34,300) in profits per year. The first two years, the activities were held like normal in Los Mangos Plaza since there still wasn’t a prohibition from the Ministry of Health, and in 2015, the commission did not assume the responsibility of the bull riding in that place, since a group of Santa Cruz residents took charge of organizing it there.
The profits generated by these celebrations are administered by the Municipality of Santa Cruz and are used to make improvements to the fairgrounds. In 2015, close to ₡60 million ($114,300) was invested in pavement, curbs and gutters for access roads that previously had caused chaos due to excessive dust.
Penal Lawsuits and Municipal Debts
The current commission has not yet submitted their financial report to the Municipal Council. They were given two months to file their report and that time was March 18th.
To make matters worse, the security company JC de Liberia filed a penal lawsuit with the Public Ministry against the commission for breach of contract and payment by checks with insufficient funds.
When asked whether the municipality should assume the debts of the current commission, council member Martin Vallejos said that in some ways it is a municipal responsibility. “Before being sworn in, the commission is warned and read the regulations, so they know the seriousness of the commitment that they assume. However, just the fact that the account that they manage is in the name of the municipality involves us as a council and the municipality,” Vallejos said.
According to Vallejos, the municipality could be obligated to pay the debts incurred by this event.