Protests like those organized by ICE, blocking downtown San Jose streets, would require permission by the Ministry of Transport
Protests like those organized by ICE, blocking downtown San Jose streets, would require permission by the Ministry of Transport

(QCOSTARICA) – The Ministry of Transport aims to ban the use of national roads for massive gatherings such as protests and rallies and any activity beyond the natural movement of vehicles, without their express permission.

The draft regulation seeks to ban rallies and protests, cultural, civic, commercial or sports events, among others, on all major routes across the country, with primary emphasis on the San Jose metropolitan area (Gran Area Metropolitana or GAM in Spanish).

The draft regulation would also ban the nightly street racing that is common in many areas around the city.

The objective of the draft regulation is not to allow any type of activity on the major routes from 6:00pm to 5:00am and only by express authorization of the Directorate General of Traffic (Dirección General de Ingeniería de Tránsito) at other times.

If adopted, the regulation would put an end – at least in theory – on the tradition of impromptu protests and rallies that block traffic, such as the latest, the arrival of Andrey Amador. Or the blockade earlier this month o the Ruta 27, from La Sabana to Escazu and the complete blockage of the Guachipelin road in front of the Aresep, by protesting taxi drivers.

Under the draft regulation, the Marcha de la Diversidad and Pride Run scheduled for tomorrow (Sunday June 28), would have required authorization. Unions and social groups wanting to take to the streets would have to also get authorization.

Currently, for the most part, trade unions or any group with a beef about anything, simply announce a date and take to the streets without any authorization. The traffic police take the role of traffic control, without the authority to stop the protests or even apply sanctions (that would probably  start a riot).

Paseo Colon, Avenida Segunda and the autopista General Cañas have been routes taken over by ralliers and protestors. The major roads in La Sabana and Rohrmoser are frequently closed off Sunday mornings for sports events. On the east side, the La Hispanidad fountain (in front of San Pedro Mall) is a favourite of protestors.

During the World Cup 2014 play, many major routes were clogged with festivities after the Ticos won their first game. By the third, San Pedro, around the mall, the roads were completely chocked off for hours.

The new regulation is yet another measure by the Ministerio de Obras Publicas y Transportes (MOPT) to solve the growing traffic congestion that has become daily life in many area of the San Jose.