QCOSTARICA — Social groups demonstrated on Wednesday in Costa Rica against the policies of the Government of President Rodrigo Chaves, in various areas such as social investment, education, economy, and employment.
With banners and festive music, thousands of people marched from various points in the capital San José to Casa Presidencial (Government House) in Zapote, where they gathered and shouted slogans against the Chaves Government and its policies.
The Mesa Nacional de Diálogo Social y Productivo (National Roundtable for Social and Productive Dialogue), which brings together various social and productive organizations, public and private sector unions, students, public universities, teachers and other civil society groups, organized the demonstration to demand respect for the social rule of law.
Among the protesters’ demands is to guarantee the investment of 8% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the education sector, including the budget of public universities.
The Mesa Nacional also called on all political sectors and, especially the Government, to recognize the importance of effective social dialogue in solving the various problems that afflict the country and particularly affect the social and productive sectors.
The general secretary of the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos (ANEP) – National Association of Public Employees, Albino Vargas, who has been in the front of major manifestations, called the march a success and that it had a participation not seen since the 2018 protests against an unpopular tax reform of the Carlos Alvarado (2018-2022) government.
“There is a growing polarization in Costa Rica from the point of view of income distribution, there is more economic exclusion, more social exclusion, job insecurity, unemployment and wage freezes,” said Vargas.
The union leader said that there is an interest on the part of politicians to “ruin and bankrupt” emblematic institutions of the country such as the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) – Costa Rican Social Security Fund, since social investment is becoming less and less.
“Costa Rica regresses with a public debt that we believe cannot be paid and that forces this country to disburse US$900 million dollars per month next year, almost all in interest. It is an obscene debt that takes away resources from social investment,” Vargas said.
The Consejo Nacional de Rectores de las universidades públicas (Conare) – National Council of Rectors of public universities – highlighted that thousands of people participated in the peaceful march in support of agri-food sovereignty and security, universal and quality public health and education, environmental protection, energy security, respect for democracy and the autonomy of institutions, the promotion of culture, the fight against insecurity, among others.
“We reiterate an urgent call to strengthen public education, which must go beyond ideological positions,” said Conare.
For his part, the president of Costa Rica, Rodrigo Chaves, said in his weekly press conference on Wednesday that people have the right to demonstrate, but ironically said that the protest aimed to defend the social rule of law when the country is one of the best in the field in international rankings.
The president did not come out to receive the protesters, who were left waiting for hours to be attended to.
“Chaves is afraid”, “we will not leave until we are attended to”, and “We want a dialogue table”, were part of the chants, screams, and shouts heard in front of Casa Presidencial, of people who marched to assert their rights.
All they got was presidential advisor Sharlin Sánchez, who came out to tell the protesters that the president could not attend to them due to his busy schedule.
While the protest was the greatest in San Jose, various parts of the country, was also the scene of protests, such as:
- Northern Caribbean
- Limón Center
- South Caribbean (Puerto Viejo)
- Southern Zone (Osa)
- Northern Zone (San Carlos)
- Guanacaste (Nicoya and Liberia)
- Perez Zeledon