Rico’s TICO BULL – I have to agree with the editorial in La Nacion today, Wednesday, July 3, 2019, that the decision by President Carlos Alvarado to dismiss Minister Edgar Mora is a serious error.
The error is not in the president making a change in the government, but the reason and the timing, giving in to pressures that it could have withstood without much effort.
This was demonstrated hours later after the president sent in the Fuerza Publica (national police) to clear the blockades, then compensates the same people responsible for all the mess affecting the entire country, such as exporters, general businesses, ambulances not being able to reach hospitals in due time and tourists.
Let alone the images and videos circulating the social networks and making headlines around the world. Perhaps it was that point alone that may have triggered the president to give the hooligans a pass.
Given the departure of Mora, it is understandable that leaders of the protests harbor new expectations and are encouraged to explore how much more the government will give in.
“The government made a serious mistake by granting the removal of Education Minister Edgar Mora to groups of students and truckers whose strength is not in their number, but in their willingness to break the law by closing roads. The government recognized the setback with the clumsy attempt to disguise the removal by a forced or requested resignation,” says La Nacion.
“The error” continues the editorial “is magnified by the reasons invoked by the strange religious-union alliance determined to demand the removal of Mora. These are demonstrable fallacies and not legitimate grievances. The Ministry authorized the teachers to talk about tolerance on June 28, they did not demand it, nor was that the only possible topic. Above all, he never planned ‘civic acts’ in support of the gay community.
“The dual education bill is not a plan to introduce child labor and the acquisition of drones is necessary to equip agricultural colleges with the technology used in precision agriculture, the newest and most modern trend. There was never the intention, nor the possibility, to use them to monitor students. Nor was a ruinous investment in ‘(gender) neutral’ bathrooms among the plans, nor is dual education an invention or exclusive endeavor of the former minister,” reads the opinion.
The removal of Mora was never the objective, but a means to cement the alliance between Fabricio Alvarado (remember him?) and Nueva República party, on the one hand, and Albino Vargas and ANEP, (one of the strongest public worker’s unions led by Vargas) on the other.
In addition, it offered a topic with which to manipulate a sector of the student body, reduced, but enough to block roads while the government tolerated it. Therefore, the minister became the target and the truckers showed more interest in Mora’s dismissal than in their own demands. Which are? Exactly. Not clear at this point.
Alvarado (Fabricio) lost the 2018 election Alvarado (Carlos) by a small margin in a run-off vote and has since disappeared from the public eye. Vargas, for his part, held the country hostage for more than three months starting last September, rallying the troops (teachers) and then joined by other public sector unions. This has led to a bill that proposes to limit strikes, at least not at the expense of the people.
In Costa Rica, public sector workers on strike continue to get paid their normal salary unless a competent court declares the strike illegal and the administration has the balls to dock their wages.
My point is that Alvarado and Vargas are seeking to recover relevance after their respective aforementioned defeats.
The reward granted by the government, the sacrifice of Minister Mora, offers them some degree of vindication. It also invites ANEP to insist on its true agenda, closer to preventing the regulation of strikes and the approval of the public employment law than to modify the educational policy to include Christian values as understood by the Nueva República.
The strong hand demonstrated by the government in the early hours of Tuesday morning when it sent in the forces to clear the blockades, the rapid succession of the operation, hours after beginning declaring roads transitable again, and without major conflict.
The end result is that the ANEP-Nueva Republica alliance achieved, more luckily than by degisn, its goal, feeding their appetites for manifestations and not surprising for other groups to join in the protests.
What is to come? With their victory, it is most likely they fell encouraged to explore how much more the government will give in, especially when the removal of the minister was never the primary objective.
I fear the president will have his hands full in the coming months. On the other hand, it may be a welcome distraction from the effects of the Value Added Tax (VAT) that we were all subjected to on July 1.