QCOSTARICA – Costa Rica President, Carlos Alvarado, is being accused of hiding and not give face while chaos and uncertainty take over the country.
This is how deputies from different political parties are complaining of the President’s inaction to lift the blockades that have obstructed the free mobilization of citizens on different public roads now in its eight day.
The Executive Branch has the legal obligation to lift the blockades and end public disorder on the roads, but it does not do so, despite the damage that is causing thousands of citizens and the economy, say many legislators in public and private.
For them and many Costa Rica, while violence and chaos reign on our public roads, the President does not assume the leadership that is his duty.
Legislator Carlos Ricardo Benavides, of the PLN and former president of Congress, said that the Government has two mandatory tasks: to dialogue and explain its proposals to the people, but it also has an obligation to enforce the law.
“The law is not a dead letter. In a democracy, the rights and freedoms of the people are respected. There are no ‘peaceful’ blockades, all of them are violent, because they forcibly take away their right to free movement. One thing is the necessary tolerance for a few hours, and another thing is to endure the days without doing anything,” he said.
President Alvarado announced on Sunday the withdrawal of the initial economic adjustment proposal that the Government would negotiate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to access financing of US$1.75 billion for budget support.
The decision was made in the midst of growing national unrest over the poor decisions of his administration and because the proposal was based 80% on the creation of new taxes.
Despite the fact that he had to do so for months, the president proposed opening a national dialogue to build a new approach to the international financial organization.
And despite the announcement, the protests and roadblocks continue, now in its 8th day.
Maria José Corrales Chacón , a PLN legislator who represents the northern zone, one of the most affected areas in the country, affirmed that the malaise is widespread due to the bad decisions of the Alvarado administration.
“The economic loss that we are experiencing as an area hurts me. Milk, tubers, pineapple, all that national production that has to go out, tourism (…) This conflict has increased because for 5 days the President of the Republic was silent, he was completely disappeared. Nobody knew where Carlos Alvarado was,” said the legislator.
She stated that it was not known if the president was afraid, anxious, worried or simply not interested in what was happening.
“I had to answer calls from the community where they asked me if it was true that he (Alvarado) had gone to Panama (…) He didn’t even answer my messages, I called him and I have the proof. He never deigned to answer a single message given the situation we are experiencing.
“I called his Minister of the Presidency (Marcelo Prieto) and I am still waiting for him to call me back. Marcelo Prieto told me: María José, I’m busy. I send messages to the Minister of Security, Michael Soto (…),” she said.
Corrales questioned this type of communication from the Government with the legislators. “How do you want people to calm down, if they can’t even establish a direct dialogue with us, who are the representatives of the peoples?” she asks rhetorically.
Also not getting called back are independent legislators Zoila Volio and Erick Rodríguez.
Volio said “We see a lack of leadership to start lifting these roadblocks. The blockades are a criminal offense. Sedition, which is to assume representation without having it, is a crime, and instigating the public is also another crime,” she said referring to the leaders of the protest movement, that include two former legislators.
“In politics when there is a gap, someone is going to fill it. In this case, given the lack of leadership of the President and the Executive Power in general, this void is being filled by a group of people who take measures that are not in accordance with Costa Rican democracy,” warned Rodríguez.
He argued that despite the government’s lack of leadership and credibility, blockades on public roads are not justified in an economy already hit by the crisis.
“Those people, far from doing Costa Rica a favor, what they are doing is further damaging the economic situation and democracy in this country,” said the legislator.