Q COSTA RICA – It wasn’t the Moín Container Terminal (TCM) scandal, the delays in the completion of the ‘Platina’ bridge, the unending delays of the San Jose – San Ramon road project the other numerous pressures the now former Minister of Transport and Public Works (MOPT), Carlos Villalta, was under that led to his resignation Monday morning.
Rather, it was “personal situation”, a case of alleged domestic violence formally filed late Sunday evening by his estranged wife.
Early Monday morning, Villalta confirmed that his estranged wife had filed charges of domestic violence and abuse and had tendered his resignation to President Luis Guillermo Solis, who in turn accepted it.
For his part, Solis said, “as a general principle, the Government maintains absolute respect for our laws against domestic violence and that the Administration cannot be compromised in the midst of a conflict in this matter.”
Despite the circumstances, President Solis praised the work by his now former minister, highlighting Villalta’s high professional competence, management skills, service vocation to the country, perseverance, honesty and courage in assuming a complex portfolio such as the MOPT.
“I thanked Don Carlos Villalta very much for the effort he had made to get a large amount of public work during the time he served in that position. He was an exemplary official who helped us very consistently and with great enthusiasm to achieve one of the main objectives that the national community expects from its governments, which is the termination of the knots that for so long tied to the national public work and In that sense I expressed the gratitude of the national government,” said President Solís on the Casa Presidencial website.
In a Monday afternoon press conference, Villata said that due to his ‘personal situation’ he had been evaluating his resignation during the past week, adding that his family situation had become complicated and was seeing it difficult to continue to focus on his work.
The now former minister said “I did not beat or tried to strangle her” as it has been said, referring to the police report of the statements by his estranged wife of the alleged physical abuse.
Villalta and his wife, identified by her last name Bonilla Miranda, have been separated for the last eight months.
The police report says that on Sunday Villata arrived at the house he once lived with his estranged wife, in Residencial Paso de las Garzas, in San Rafael de Alajuela, to drop off the two children, this shorlty before 8:00 pm.
Villalta, at his press conference Monday admitted to being at the house but denied the physical violence.
According to Carlos Hidalgo, of the Minsterio de Segurida Publica (MSP), the face-to-face was enough to initiate a dispute that at first began verbally and later escalated.
“The woman told the officers that Villalta intended to strangle her and she had bruises on her hands and arms, evidence that substantiated the charge,” said Hidalgo.
The police chief added that when his officers, responding to a call, arrived at the house Villalta had already left.
“When the police arrived at the place that we located is properly the house of this woman, who would have been the wife of this minister, supposedly they are spouses, but they are in a process of divorce. She had bruises on one arm, the subject was not in the house,” explained Hidalgo.
A formal complaint was filed with the Juzgado contra la Violencia Doméstica de Alajuela shortly before 11:00 pm, giving the woman protection against her estranged husband, including he stays away from her home, work or study and keeps from her a distance of one kilometer.
Depending on the follow-up actions of the two, the case can either move to a full judicial process or nothing.
According to the Fiscalia (Prosecutor’s Office), the now former Minister has a period of five days to request a hearing and to gather evidence, if that does not happen, the protection measures will run for a year.
Given that the woman did not provide witnesses to the facts and she was ordered to go to the Forensic Medicine when she deems it appropriate.
In addition, the Fiscalia says the victim assures that this is not the first time this happens, however, they have no reports of other complaints against Villalta.