Attempts to purchase land for a new cemetery in Nicoya have failed once again. Even though last November the Municipal Council approved the acquisition of a property near Matabuey, the investigation of mayor Marco Antonio Jiménez, undertaken by the Prosecutor’s Office, has put the process on hold.
The Prosecutor detained the mayor this past June 13 for the alleged crimes of embezzlement, influence against public resources, illegal appointments, fraud, and sexual abuse.
Among the cases under investigation is the purchase of the cemetery. According to the Prosecutor, the procurement department allegedly recommended to the Nicoya Council that they purchase a property that belonged to Karla Mora Benavides’ uncle. Mora-Benavides is the municipality’s legal advisor.
However, Marvin Vargas, council member and part of the commission charged with purchasing the cemetery, said that the property was selected due to municipal engineers’ recommendations after carrying out technical studies.
“When we created the commission, we included two engineers and a lawyer from the municipality so that they were the ones to determine which was the best property,” said Vargas.
2016 Bid Process
The Voice of Guanacaste reported on November 21, 2016 that the head of the Procurement department, Teresa Salas, gave the green light to purchase a 3.5-hectare property.
According to a report that Salas sent to the Municipal Council, of the four bids that came in the best proposal was for ¢205,750,000 and came from José Elías Torres Benavides.
On December 6, 2016, the Municipal Council approved the purchase of the property, which is located near the Matabuey neighborhood on the road to Rio Grande de Nicoya. However, the property had a lien against it.
According to Adriana Rodríguez, the acting mayor, when the file was sent to the General Procurement Office to be signed over, the property had a lien and the purchased was stopped.
“The purchase has been stopped. The Municipality did not know that there was a problem between the owner and a third party, and when the process got to Procurement, the purchase was stopped,” explained Rodríguez. This is the process that the Prosecutor is currently investigating.
Because the file for purchasing the cemetery is in the Prosecutor’s hands, the Municipality cannot continue the process. The current cemetery’s saturation will continue to be a problem for the canton.
Rodríguez also said that if the Prosecutor’s Office considers that a crime was committed during the purchase process, the Municipality will have to start the bid process over again because the other proposals sent in during the current process did not fulfill the technical requirements.