The Puntarenas festival is one of the largest annual events. Photo archives.
The Puntarenas festival is one of the largest annual events. Photo archives.

COSTA RICA NEWS – The Ministerio de Salud (Ministry of Health) On Wednesday shut down the Puntarenas festival, saying it would take legal action against the organizers for failing to meet health and safety requirements.

The Fiestas de Puntarenas that started on February 6 was to have run until Sunday, February 15.

Health Minister, Maria Elena Lopez, explained that the festival had never received permits because the Ministerio de Seguridad Publica (Ministry of Public Security or Police) did not approve the security plan for the carnival and fair grounds.

The minister said that notwithstanding, the event began and operated in non-compliance of the law, that organizers had been notified of the non-compliance, but went ahead with the party.

The minister stressed that the closure is temporary, that is, if organizers can comply with the requirements the order would be lifted and the party allowed to continue.

Ronny Muñoz, head of the ministry’s legal department explained that the case will now go to the Ministerio Publico (prosecutor).

For her part, the interim director of the Fuerza Publica, María Fullmen Salazar, said it is important to ensure the safety of the festival goers, stressing that the plan submitted by organizers called for a small number of private security guards to provide security for an expected 200.000 people at the annual event.

Comment: Each year and at different festivals being held around the country – the top three San Jose in December; Palmares in January; and Puntarenas in February – organizers enter into a battle with the Ministries of Health and Security over permits. Every year, it goes down to the wire, the last day and in some cases the morning of, before permits are issued. In the case of Puntarenas this year, incredible that the festival was allowed to continue for five days before authorities stepped in.

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