QCOSTARICA – The National Rescue movement had developed peacefully during the morning of this Monday in the capital city. Until, at Casa Presidencial, in Zapote, protesters tried to tear down the barrier of police officers who, with protective shields, prevented them too close, ensuing a confrontation forced police to launch tear gas.
Eleven police officers were wounded in the melé.
On the side of the movement, officially, no injuries were reported, but 28 were arrested for assault on police and damage to police patrols.
All this happened in three events of violence that escalated and ended up staining the peaceful walk that began in downtown San José earlier in the morning.
The first event occurred at noon with the arrival of the protest march at Casa Presidencial.
There, the protesters challenged the officers rushing the metal barricades set up by the police.
Their spirits dropped. Between themselves, they managed to calm down and started conversations with police chiefs.
However, peace was broken in the second of the episodes, when a caravan of heavy trucks paraded in the street that passes in front of the Presidency.
Some of the protesters in those vehicles had their faces covered and held up sticks, bats and metal pipes, inciting a confrontation with police.
At that moment, a middle-aged man wearing a hat struck a strong blow with a stick on the head of one of the policemen.
That officer is Milton Alvarado, the regional director of the Fuerza Publica (National Police) in Alajuela, who was removed from the front of the barricade with his head bleeding.
The attacker was arrested. The Minister of Security, Michael Soto, confirmed, in a press conference, that they will charge him before for attempted murder.
This attack occurred before 2 pm.
The third event occurred an hour later and was the most serious.
Suddenly, a shower of stones began to fall on the officers who were in front of the defense line.
— La Nación (@nacion) October 12, 2020
The protesters also threw themselves at the police with their sticks, bats and pipes.
The officers wounded in the middle of the tear gas smoke and the stones continued to fall.
Two unconscious policemen were removed by their companions, who were carrying them on patrol cars that went directly to medical centers for their prompt attention. They are in hospital, in serious condition, Soto reported.
Soto said that one of them may have suffered a skull fracture.
“The Police had a passive, calm attitude, holding the line. It is the protesters who began to unlawfully attack the policemen not only with stones but with pieces of sidewalk that they began to tear apart to attack us.
“That is where the Police make the decision to use a chemical agent (tear gas) to safeguard the life and integrity of the officers. If this had not been done in this way, we would probably have a more serious situation to regret,” declared the minister.
Estos son los momentos más tensos de la marcha que salió a las 9 a.m. del parque de la Merced y recorrió avenida segunda en San José. Manifestantes lanzan piedras contra policías en Casa Presidencial: Al menos cinco heridos. Lea más: https://t.co/Ud1CkOd7yk Video: Alonso Tenorio pic.twitter.com/17CgrzWx0T
— La Nación (@nacion) October 12, 2020
The National Rescue leaders rejoiced at “the results” of the demonstration and blamed the Government and the Police for “inciting” the violence.
People from rural areas arrived by buses to San José to meet in La Merced park, east of the San Juan de Dios hospital. From there they marched down Avenida Segunda to Zapote.
Some of those vans came from areas where riots and actions against police forces in the roadblocks in the last two weeks.
“The courage, the nobility with which we have fought this fight is impressive. Today the people who arrived there arrived consciously, it is impressive that the people of this struggle, a demonstration that really exceeded the expectations that we wanted,” affirmed Célimo Guido, one of the leaders of the National Rescue Movement.
Guido in command of the group behind the blockades of the last 13 days on highways, alleged that the Government infiltrated people in their movement.
“They do a montage, they infiltrate (the movement) with their people.. it is the game of the Mafia of Casa Presidencial ”, added Guido.
The statements were given at a press conference late Monday night.
Noticias Repretel, channel 6 news, was denied access to the press conference for their refusal to meet the demands of the protest movement leaders to transmit the protest completely and without interruptions.
‘We held on as best we could’
Minutes after the confrontation, the director of the Public Force, Daniel Calderón, explained that they received threats that the protesters would charge Casa Presidencial with the big truck parked in front of the Government building, in order to penetrate the gates.
“They threw pieces of concrete, officers began to fall despite their protective equipment. There were threats that the trucks were going to charge at the officers and we couldn’t anymore. We held on without using force as far as possible,” said Calderón.
“This repression today is impressive and with more serious. We found a lot of the military behind the Presidential House. We link this to the aggressive manner in which the authorities have acted,” said Guido, without providing evidence.
The violence continued hours later in the surroundings of Zapote. A group of protesters even took the Circunvalación highway where, again, they damaged another Traffic Police patrol.
In the last 10 days, a total of 110 police officers have been wounded in the confrontations with the protesters, who blame the authorities for the violence, across the country.