Beginning tomorrow, Monday, September 10, the country’s public sector employees are expected to begin a strike the unions have defined as “indefinite” arising as a measure of opposition to the bill of Plan Fiscal (Tax Reform) that is currently being discussed in the Legislative Assembly.

Archive photo

The strike action is expected to be nationwide, but the Central Valley and in particular the greater metropolitan area of San Jose (GAM) – the area to most to be affected –  that my include roadblocks, significant disruptions to traffic, public services including medical and transportation services.

The citizenry is encouraged to take precautionary measures in advance of the strike, stocking up on fuel, water, and prescription medication, as an example.

Following are expected activities and/or service disruptions on Monday and possible for the rest of the week.

  • Possible interruption in ICE cell service. Private cellular services such as Claro and Movistar  are not expected to be affected.
  • Areas around the Legislative Assembly, Casa Presidencial; Ministry of Education (MEP); the Caja Costarricesense de Seguro Social (CCSS), Avenida Segunda (2nd Avenue) and the Bulevar / Avenida Central are expected to be key points of demonstrations.
  • Roadblocks could occur on rutas 27 (San Jose – Calder), 32 (road to Limon), 39 (the Circunvalacion), 1 (Interamericana norte / Bernardo Soto / Autopista General Cañas, 2 (Interamericana Sur, road to the south) and 34 (Costanera) are possible.
  • The port of Limon and Moin are expected to be shutdown with roadblocks affecting the Caldera and Golfito exits.
  • Demonstrations are expected at or near universities: UCR, TEC, UNA and UNED
  • There will be a significant reduction in medical services at clinics and hospitals, emergency response.
  • Though schools will be opene, classes may be interrupted.

Possible Violence

The Minsterio de Seguridad Publica (MSP) said it is taking preventive action before possible blockades.

Security Minister, Michael Soto, said that the Fuerza Publica (National Police) is prepared to respond promptly in the event of blockades. “We have concentrated all the resources of the Police at a national level to organize ourselves and to react in any part of the country,” Soto said Friday.

Wednesday, September 12, there will be protest march in the heart of San Jose. Archive photo

The minister stressed, “that one of the main objectives of the authorities will be to keep functioning the essential services for the development of the country.”

Soto, however, expressed hope that during the strike there will be no road blockades or violent events that force police intervention.

“Costa Rica is a state of law where people have the opportunity to demonstrate, but remember that there is legislation that makes it a crime to block roads,” Soto added.

The minister referred to Article 400 of the Criminal Code, which states that “He shall be punished by a fine of five to thirty days (…) The one that obstructs or, in some way, hinders traffic on public roads or their sidewalks, with materials, debris or objects, or cross them with vehicles, beams, wires or similar objects, without using the means required by the case to avoid harm or inconvenience to passers-by or drivers, if they had been placed without a license from the competent authority ”

The head of Public Security said that there is a specific plan of operations, whose execution will depend on what occurs.

Previously, Soto had indicated that they hoped not to have to use force or other resources as riot police (antimotines in Spanish).

Meanwhile, the Policia de Transito (Traffic Police) said that its officers would work in coordination with the Ministry of Public Security.

Unions Deny Blockades

On the other hand, union leaders denied on Friday the existence of a list of blocking points in the country and dismissed audios that circulate on social media with false information about alleged actions and “agendas” for the day(s) of protest.

They labor unions indicated that the concentrations will be regionalized on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; on Wednesday there will be a march in downtown San Jose that will leave at 10 am of the statue of León Cortés, on the east side in the La Sabana metropolitan park.

They added that the detailed actions of the movement will be announced as the days go by.

Foreigner recommendation

Foreigners visiting or living in Costa Rica are encouraged to remain vigilant at all times, avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.

The Q recommends that they contact their families to their whereabouts and well being in Costa Rica, even if they have not been affected by the strike.

The recommendation for foreigners is to also have their embassy contact at hand and consular hours.

Airport manager recommends allowing more time to get to the airport

Though, Aeris, the administrator of the international airport Juan Santamaría (SJO – San Jose international airport) expects that airport operations will remain normal, it pointed out that “due to the nature of the government agencies or officials working at the airport,” passengers are advised to follow the indications of their airlines.

People who plan to leave the country next week should take to take precautions, such as checking with their airline for updated flight information and allowing additional time to arrive on time for their flights.

“It will be important that outgoing passengers present themselves with sufficient anticipation, in order to carry out in a calm manner the migratory, security or boarding procedures. Also, keep them informed of points to the airport that could be affected,” said in a statement.

Roadblocks, for example, can delay travel time to the airport. Flights could be delayed or even canceled due to a work slow down or stoppage by one or a number or all of the public sector agencies. Public transportation, ie buses, taxis could be affected or even join the movement.

Arrivals may also be affected. The airport manager warns that there could also be delays in international arrivals.

If you are traveling to Costa Rica this week take into account there could be delays at the airport and/or getting to your destination.

If you are picking someone up at the airport, confirm arrival times with the airline or the airport, and road conditions to the airport.

The Liberia (LIR) airport may also be affected. The strike by public sector workers could cause delays and/or stop of services at the Daniel Oduber international airport, as well as road blocks in the area around the airport and/or to tourist destinations.