Costa Rica: Charges of Plagiarism in Presidential Campaign

On February 7 of 2010, the general election for 2010-2014 period [es] will take place across Costa Rica. The leading presidential candidates are Laura Chinchilla of the official party National Liberation Party (PLN), followed by Otto Guevara of the Libertarian Movement Party (ML), and with less popular support are the candidates Ottón Solís of Citizens’ Action Party (PAC), and Luis Fisman of Partido Unidad Social Cristiana (PUSC). There are another five parties that are considered to have a remote chance during the campaign. In referring to the presidential candidates this week, the word plagiarism has gained prominence in the Costa Rican blogosphere.

Several bloggers, including Conejitos Suicidas [es] was informed by the Twitter user @masala777, who denounced the advertisement from the Libertarian Movement candidate Guevara. Currently in second place in terms of voting intention, Guevara's ad consists of an open hand and the slogan “Change now,” which looks very similar to an image from a Guatemalan Christian Church, named Word in Action. The image from this activity called Generation of Change can be seen here. In reference to this subject, Conejitos said:

El caso no solo remite a lo referente al plagio, sino también a un tema de propiedad intelectual, misma que todos los que trabajan en este sector saben que se trata de uno de los sectores más desprotegidos por nuestras leyes y autoridades, y como no? si hasta alguien que puede llegar a ser presidente los plagia? ¿Será culpa directa de los encargados de la publicidad del ML, o de una mala jugada de un colega? ¿Ustedes que opinan?

The case not only refers to the plagiarism, but also to the subject of intellectual property, which is the same as all those working in this field know, that this is one of the most unprotected sectors by our laws and authorities, and why not? if someone who can become president can plagiarize? Is it the direct fault of those responsible for advertising in ML (Libertarian Movement), or a dirty trick from a colleague? What is your opinion?

Guevara is also accused of plagiarizing the idea of providing computers to students and student centers from a document (.pdf) from the Fondo Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (National Telecommunications Fund), according to the blog Manda Güevo [es], which states:

los planes de gobierno en este país son una verdadera cochinada que al final no sirve de nada, esto es conocido hasta por los propios partidos políticos los cuales ya no se desgastan pensando en propuestas innovadores y recurren al plagio dentro de ellos.

the government's plans in this country are a real dirty trick that ultimately do not help, this is known even by the very own political parties, which do not tire thinking about innovative proposals and resort to plagiarism within the parties.

The candidate of the PUSC, Fishman was also accused of plagiarism by the the blog Infierno en Costa Rica [es] (Hell in Costa Rica), for its latest advertising spot “El menos malo es el mejor (video),” which means “The lesser evil is the best” and the idea was based on a scene from the Whoopi Goldberg film Sister Act. Faced with this complaint the Costa Rican newspaper La Nación, asked Fishman if this was true [es], and he replied, “Yes, and I don't care… if they say that it is a copy, then I don't care. The idea was taken from ‘Sister Act,’ but they were nuns.”

Photo of candidate Luis Fishman, courtesy of Habla Costa Rica

Photo of candidate Luis Fishman, courtesy of Habla Costa Rica

These are the most recent cases of plagiarism in political campaigns, however, last year it was discovered that the candidate for the Citizens Action Party, Otton Solis took 19 paragraphs from the strategic plan of the Costa Rican Social Security Administration [es] for his own government health plan the health area, which the candidate acknowledged as an error.

These examples can be frightening to the bloggers who wonder how those who seek to rule the country can be capable of such actions.

hablalogo This post is also available at Habla Costa Rica.

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