Costa Rica: Video Love Note Gets Vice-Minister Dismissed

The Costa Rican Vice-Minister of Youth Karina Bolaños was removed from her post by the Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla after a video showing the underwear clad vice minister sending a love note to a lover was made public and spread through the web.  Reactions to this news are quite varied: from censure to the Vice-Minister for making a video and not taking care to erase it, to rejection of all those who continued to spread the video and finally, repudiation to the President for removing the vice-minister from her post as  if she were not the victim of this whole affair. All links go to Spanish language sites unless otherwise stated.

“She should’ve been more careful.”

In online music forum 89decibeles, a user known as larva salvaje posted:

A mi me vale mierda si ella demuestra su amor por medio de vídeos, yo he hecho cartas y poemas. ¿Y qué? El problema aquí es que ella es alta funcionaria pública y su esposo también. Es la vida privada, yo sé, pero nada cuesta tener un poco de auto privacidad y auto seguridad. Lo que pienso es que ella debió cuidarse más.

I don’t give a shit if she shows her love through videos, I have written letters and poems. ¿So what? The problem here is that she is a high placed government employee and so is her husband. It is their private life, I know, but it would have cost her nothing to have a bit more of self-privacy and safety. What I think is that she should’ve been more careful.

On the exclusive interview Karina Bolaños gave to CNN in Spanish, she told about how the video was made while she was separated from her husband years ago, and that it was a software engineer who went to their home to service the computers and security equipment who stole the video along with other confidential information from their computers and blackmailed her for years in order to not release the video. According to the CNN report, she suggested that she expected more support from her government, but respects the measure to separate her from her post.

Dismissed for appearing in underwear. 2 years of government always getting caught with pants down, still president.

Meme Image from La Erre TV. Above: Dismissed for appearing in underwear. Below: Two years of getting caught with her pants down, still President.


The  comments left on the CNN article show a good sample of the different opinions this situation has generated. alex wrote:

Creo que el problema es que es una persona representante del Gob. de Costa Rica y no puede hacer este tipos de vídeos debió cuidarse y lo peor no dirigido a su esposo sino a su amante dice que estaba separada pero esto indica que no lo quiere y por su honor debió contarle su infidelidad aparte de perder su cargo perderá a su fam. ya que el esposo es politico y defenderá su carrera y no a su esposa

I think that the problem is that this is a person representing the Gov. of Costa Rica and she can’t do this type of videos, she should’ve taken care of herself and the worst part is that it is not meant for her husband but instead to a lover, she says she was separated but this makes it clear that she doesn’t love him and for honor she should’ve told him about her unfaithfulness, besides losing her post she will lose her family since her husband is a politician and will defend his career and not his wife.

Male Chauvinism?

The fact that President Chinchilla is a woman who has refused to depose other male government employees for what are considered more serious offenses directly related to the job they are supposed to be doing has not failed to catch people’s eyes.Mito, also commenting on the CNN article, was outraged about President Chinchilla’s sexism.

El pueblo está indignado, no con el video, sino con el trato desigual y machista de la Presidenta Chinchilla. En vez de apoyar a esta funcionaria quien ha sido abusada, le da la espalda y la despide. Y en cambio defendió a su Ministro de Hacienda Fernando Herrero cuando se le demostró que estaba pagando menos impuestos por subdeclarar una propiedad, al mismo tiempo que impulsaba una reforma tributaria. Y más recientemente no le hace caso al Tribunal de la Etica que reprocha los actos del Ministro de Educación y de uno de sus Vice presidentes, cuando toda la evidencia señala la mala actuación en sus gestiones. Vaya forma de gobernar Doña Laura. No podría estar más arrepentido de haberle dado el voto.

The people are outraged, not with the video, but with the unequal and sexist treatment given by the President Chinchilla. Instead of supporting this employee who has been abused, she turns her back on her and fires her. But she defended her Tax Minister Fernando Herrero when it was proven that he was paying less taxes by declaring a lower value on a property, at the same time he was pushing through a tax reform. And more recently, she doesn’t pay attention to the Ethics Tribunal which was reproaching the Minister of Education and one of her Vice-presidents, when all evidence was pointing to their bad performance in their administration. What a way to govern Mrs. Laura. I couldn’t be sorrier that I voted for you.
Don't look at me, I didn't vote for Laura

Spoof T-shirt design from La Erre TV: Don't Look at me! I didn't vote for Laura

From another commenter:

Una desgracia para las mujeres de todo el mundo, cuando una mujer presidente es la primera en discriminar a una funcionaria por el hecho de ser mujer, y por el aún más grande pecado de disfrutar de su sexualidad. Esta mujer, no debe disculparse, debe denunciar la injusticia a la que está siendo sometida por ser mujer. La vida privada no debe influir en su vida laboral. Pero los hombres que si hacen mal su trabajo a ellos los dejan en su cargo, lo hombres que tienen sexo con sus pasantes como Clinton, a ellos si les dejan en su trabajo, ahí si nada tiene que ver su vida sexual son su desempeño en el cargo. Este caso debería ser denunciado publicamente por todas las mujeres y hombres que creemos en la equidad y en los derechos humanos. Se lo hacen a una nos lo hacen a todas!

It is a shame for the women from all around the world when a female president is the first one to discriminate a government employee because she is a woman and for the even greater sin of enjoying her sexuality. This woman should not be apologizing, she should be denouncing the injustices she is going through because she is a woman. Private life should not affect her work life. But the men who do their jobs badly, they are kept in their positions, the men who have sex with their interns like Clinton, they are kept at their jobs, in those cases sex life and work performance have nothing to do with each other. This case should be condemned publicly by all women and men who believe in equality and human rights. If they do it to one of us they do it to all of us women!

On Facebook, an editorial written by Lic. Marcos Chinchilla Montes from the University of Costa Rica is making its rounds. In it he writes:

Recuerdo haber visto hace algunos años un graffiti en Colombia que decía “Machismo se escribe con “m” de mamá”. Si, varones y mujeres construimos y reproducimos en muchos sentidos el machismo; pero lo que duele, es reconocer prácticas tan misóginas en la misma presidenta de nuestro país. Yo hubiera esperado un poquito de sororidad en la presidenta; sin embargo, arremete contra un comportamiento que es competencia exclusiva de la vida privada de Bolaños.

I remember seeing some years ago a graffiti in Colombia which read “Male Chauvinism is written with “m” of mom”. Yes, men and women build and reproduce in many senses male chauvinism; but what hurts is to recognize such misogynist practices in our own country’s president. I would’ve expected a bit of sorority from the president, nevertheless, she attacks a behaviour which is exclusively relevant to the private life of Bolaños.
Meme by La Erre TV

La Erre TV; above:  Countless cases of corruption – “these employees have my support”
below: Intimate video – “Fire that slu”%!”


Others are ashamed that the news is that there is a video, and not that she was blackmailed by someone who is now giving interviews about the video. On music forum 89decibeles, Egon_ wrote:

Creo que da más vergüenza que no se le tome principal importancia al hecho de que ella está afirmando que fue extorsionada como por tres años y nadie hace nada al respecto, o al menos eso parece. Me parece que eso es lo importante aquí, el vídeo y la chota pasan a segundo plano.

I think that what is more shameful is that no one seems to give importance to the fact that she’s affirming that she was blackmailed for something like three years and no one does anything about it, or that  is how it seems. This is what is important here, the video and the fingerpointing pass to a second plane.

Unequal treatment

Víctor Fernández G. wrote on his blog, Photocopied Tape about why he thinks Karina Bolaños’ destitution was wrong. While the President has previously shown leniency to high level government employees who have made serious blunders in their work, she now punishes a person for a strictly personal matter which has nothing to do with her work. In his post, he has a long list of the recent cases where she has stood next to corrupt and inept officers:

Doña Laura había sido incapaz de destituir a jerarcas cuestionadísimos, llegando lo más a pedirles la renuncia cuando el pueblo clamaba por castigos firmes y honestos.

Mrs. Laura has been incapable of dismissing highly doubted leaders, at most asking them for their resignation letters when the people were claiming for firm and honest punishment.

The images and memes used above were made by Costa Rican comedians from LaErreTv in support of Karina Bolaños and mocking the government's reaction. They can be found on their Public facebook page. A popular radio station made a PR Faux Pas when they decided to profit from the scandal by publicizing a radio show of theirs using an image from the video, which blogger Cristian Cambronero (@cambronerodenounced on twitter. He also wrote on July 30th:

 ‏@cambronero Es ALUCINANTE. Ante denuncias de corrupción, el gobierno cierra filas y protege a Ministros. Ante violación de privacidad, la echan.

@cambronero This is INSANE. Facing reports of corruption, the government closes ranks and protects ministers. Facing invasion of privacy, they fire her.

Wal, (@Vulturgryphus), also on twitter, commented:

@vulturgryphus “La sexualidad, reprímela. La tolerancia, aplástala. La corrupción, ignórala. El descaro, pásalo.” – Gobierno de Laura Chinchilla 2010-2014

 @vulturgryphus “Sexuality, repress it. Tolerance, stomp on it. Corruption, ignore it. Shamelessness, pass it on.” – Laura Chinchilla's Government 2010-2014

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