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Council's President Under Investigation for Hiring Without Due Process
• The contract was for fireworks

By Oliver Pérez
Nicoya's Council's President, Juan Luis Aguirre Vidaurre, is being investigated by the Town Council for hiring the fireworks used on December 31st, 2010, without following due process. The fireworks display had a cost of $800 however, a year later, the owner of the company hired is still walking the halls of Nicoya's Municipalidad, bill in hand, looking for someone to pay him what he is owed.

Thereby, the Town Council has appointed an Administrative Proceedings Review Board that will go over the firework's contract awarded by Aguirre to the Juegos Artificiales Cavica Company, to bid farewell to 2010 and welcome in 2011.

The case goes back to December 30th, 2010, when Juan Luis Aguirre called Rodrigo Villavicencio Brenes, owner of the gunpowder company located in Cartago, in order to hire him for a fireworks show. Several days later, a bill worth $800 arrived at Nicoya's Municipalidad.

Since a purchase order was not issued by the Municipalidad's Supplies Department, Villavicencio's bill has not been paid. In addition, there is not an official approval, since Juan Luis Aguirre made the agreement over the phone in his role as Council's President and therefore, neither the previous nor the current Mayor have been held responsible for paying the money.

When asked about the situation, Juan Luis Aguirre Vidaurre rejected all charges. "I take no responsibility for this case. The only thing I did was make a phone call to one of Cavica's managers here in Nicoya in order to ask if a fireworks show was going to held or not. However, I never assumed the responsibility of hiring the show. As the Council's President, I am only able to put decisions to a vote to authorize any contract", explained Aguirre.

On the other hand, in an interview with the VON held in Nicoya, Rodrigo Villavicencio, owner of Juegos Artificiales Cavica, affirmed that he was indeed hired by Aguirre.

"It all started in mid-December, 2010, when I met with Don Juan Luis, as the city's Council's President, here in Nicoya. We met on several occasions and it was then that we agreed on the fireworks display for December 31st. Mr. Aguirre later called me three times in order to confirm the contract", explained Villavicencio.

VON asked Villavicencio why he did not go through a due process when being hired; in other words, why didn't he submit a quote to the Mayor's office.

"I was over-confident because Don Juan Luis told me that he was the president and therefore, there would be no problems, he would take care of all the necessary proceedings himself; I even asked him if the check was ready and his reply was that I must see Franklin Sequeira, head of the Department of Finance. However, to this day, neither Aguirre nor anyone else has responded by paying the 400,000 colones ($800)", Rodrigo Villavicencio explained.

The Process. In order for the Municipalidad to make any purchase, the Mayor and the Supplies Department must first give their approval. In this case, there was no purchase order or quote, both of which are essential requisites for payments to be made.

Juan Rafael Marín, Minister of Decentralization and President of the Instituto de Fomento y Asesoría Municipal, explained to the VON that in this case it was a verbal deal made by Aguirre and therefore, he will be responsible for paying it.

(By establishing) "An institutional review board, the goal is to prove that the Municipalidad has no responsibility in this case", said Marín.

If the Board concludes that Aguirre was responsible of hiring the fireworks company, it will be up to the Attorney General's Office (Procuraduría) and the National Comptroller's Office (Contraloría General de la República), to determine the level of responsibility that must be assumed by the president.


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