QCOSTARICA – “The people’s house” was host to the Transfer of Powers on Sunday. The last time the Legislative building was used to was the event was 78 years ago, in May 1944.
What was curious about yesterday’s event, the citizens or “the people” were missing, barred from attending.
Many obeyed the call by President Rodrigo Chaves by not going to Plaza de la Democracia, to stay at home to avoid conglomeration and watch the event on television, since they could not get within a 300-meter radius.
La Nacion reports of several people who tried but were stopped by police.
At 10:41 am, while the sun was burning her in front of her, Mrs. Norma Segura was trying to enter the Plaza de la Democracia to closely follow the events of the transfer of powers. At the same time was Nury Valverde with some relatives with the same objective. Both came from Desamparados and Sabanilla to participate in the celebration.
However, through one of the entrances located to the west of the Congress, on Central Avenue, they ran into a metal fence that prevented their passage. One of the Fuerza Publica (national police) officers guarding the place told them that public access was restricted.
“Only with accreditations”, the uniformed man was heard saying.
“My mom, my cousin and I are coming. We wanted to enter because we are supporting the departure of the president (Carlos Alvarado), who seemed excellent to me. So we think and we wish the incoming president the best. There is no access, I thought you could see it from the park,” Valverde lamented.
Doña Norma, told La Nacion she remembers that four years “there was public access”.
In fact, yours truly has attended several of the transfer of powers, the first vividly remembered was that of Oscar Arias’ (second term) and followed up with the transfer of powers of Laura Chinchilla, both events held in La Sabana park, where the common folk mingled with the VIPs, without restrictions.
The same was for the Luis Guillermo Solis and Carlos Alvarado’s transfer of powers.
For her part, Doña Norma commented that four years ago, when Carlos Alvarado took office, the reality was different.
Another stopped by from “enjoying the cultural events” was Don Rigoberto Zamora, who from Jericó de Desamparados came to the Plaza de la Democracia, only to see the officers who told him “everything is closed here.”
The ceremony of the investiture of the Government of Chaves was marked by a fairly empty plaza, the absence of ordinary Costa Ricans, heavily guarded by security agents dressed in black. On the outskirts, the Traffic Police, the Fuerza Publica and even by a group of the Border Police that, dressed in their traditional military olive-green uniforms, were stationed on the roof of the National Museum to monitor the surroundings with binoculars.
For days, the then president-elect had asked Costa Ricans to watch the transfer on television. In the square, his transfer of powers team installed two giant screens that broadcast the act and there were cultural acts for the common people since they did not have accreditation to be in the plaza.
Arrival and exit of the president and delegations
For the few who did come out to see the event in person, if they had been closer to the doors of the Legislative Assembly (Congress) building, they would have seen, then president-elect Rodrigo Chaves, arrive hand in hand with his wife, Signe Zeicate, accompanied by his seven-year-old daughter, Isabella, and his eldest daughter, Tatiana Chaves, 19.
Smiling, everyone greeted the missing public as they walked the red carpet to the rhythm of the song “Soy Tico” by Carlos Guzmán, performed by the Intermezzo choir.
Before receiving the blessing of the Catholic and Evangelical bishops, Chaves and his family went up the steps of the Congress and greeted those present: security, folklore groups and members of the press that the phrase they heard the most was “here they cannot to be”, wherever they be.
Chaves was sworn in in a ceremony of about 40 minutes, inside Congress, as the 49th president of the Republic.
At noon and while everything was going well, Chaves came out with his family and greeted those present again on the steps of Congress, but now as president; very quickly they got on the bus that took him to the Centro Nacional de Cultura (Cenac) – National Center of Culture (Cenac) where the first cabinet meeting of his mandate was held.
Just five minutes after Chaves left, about five demonstrators from feminist groups, who were protesting against his appointment, took advantage of a weak point in security and violated one of the accesses to Second Avenue to run towards Congress.
The place through which they entered the force was the exit point for the international delegations and the cabinet. Quickly, the passage of the demonstrators was stopped by the police.
The situation, although it lasted a few minutes, did cause some disruption in the operation, since the delegations exiting the building had to be transferred to another sector, while the hundreds of police officers stepped up their surveillance, calling in reinforcements, including the mounted police.
Among the protesters, who did not even number 100, there were some with the flags of the Broad Front, but, for the most part, they were members of feminist groups with messages such as: “They took so much from us, they already took everything from us”, or “They will not be able to keep quiet more”, as well as with words addressed to President Chaves, who was already moving away from the few citizens who tried to say something to him.
Rándall Picado, head of the San José delegation of the Fuerza Publica, affirmed that the perimeter fences were violated by the demonstrators. The situation did not escalate and was brought under control.