TICO BULL – This is a true tale of Costa Rica politics and its politicians. It’s not made up and still unfolding. I’ll keep you posted.
Last week, now a former legislator, Ronal Vargas Araya, of the Frente Amplio (FA) party stood up in the Legislative Assembly to announce his resignation as legislator.
Vargas cited health reasons for the unprecedented act. There was an emotional outpour from fellow legislators, lots of hugs and kisses.
But, hours later we learned that, although there may be health issues, Vargas quit because he was accused of sexual harassment of an assistant at his Guanacaste constituency office. The woman, we later learned had a history with Vargas, they had been romantically involved in the past. The woman had told her story to the Ombudswoman, Montserrat Solano.
Nothing unusual so far. We’ve seen this before, though this is the first time I believe that a legislator has actually given up their legislative seat. The others, to my recollection, took a step back, let the storm settle, then when people forgot, they continued as if nothing had ever happened. This is the Costa Rican way.
Hours later following the resignation, the Frente Amplio party confirmed the deception, claiming their legislator had duped them as well, quickly removing Vargas from their roster and days later announcing a replacement to the Vargas legislative seat. The TSE quickly moved to revoke Vargas’ credentials as a legislator.
The chain of events moved quickly starting with the resignation on Thursday (Feb. 5), the uncovering of the deception, on Friday (Feb. 6) the party apologizing for their handling of the situation, the elections tribunal revoking credentials, and a new legislator sitting in Vargas’ seat on Monday (Feb. 9).
End of story, right?
Well not quite.
Today, Wednesday (Feb. 11), Vargas wants back in, saying to the media from his Guanacaste riding office, “‘I was not in my right mind” (Spanish: ‘Yo no estaba en mis cabales’).
The former legislator says he was forced by his party to resign. But, the leader of the party and presidential candidate in 2014, said Vargas submitted his resignation letter and it was he (Vargas) who asked for his credentials to be revoked by the elections tribunal.
But, Vargas has a different story. So different that he decided to file an appeal (recurso de amparo in Spanish) with the elections tribunal, the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (TSE). The action is directed against Villalta; and the president and chief legislative faction of the Frente Amplio, Patricia Mora and Gerardo Vargas Varela, respectively.
Wait, it gets better.
The now former legislator says the three leaders of the party threatened to publish explicit photos of him (and messages) if he didn’t resign.
“I knew I was innocent and did manifest that unjust accusation, but they lobbied violent arguments and sexually explicit photos and copies of messages of Wasapp sexual content (sic),” Vargas said. The former legislator added he didn’t want his daughters to see the photos (and messages) in the press, adding to the pressure that led to his resignation.
I am waiting with curiosity the next act in this play.