A noise inside the Casa Presidencial (Government House) House building alerted the police on Tuesday, locking down the building as the protests by fishermen outside the gates turned violent.

The alarm went off, the main glass doors to the building closed and police dressed in riot gear closed the main front gate when the protestors threw rocks and an ‘explosive object’ that was later identified as a stick of dynamites.

A journalist from La Nación reported hearing when an explosive object exploded inside the government building a few meters from where the protesters tried to press through the gates.

According to Security Minister, Michael Soto, playing down the incident, explained that it was a dynamite quarter stick, a large firecracker or “bombeta” in Spanish, that is commonly used in fishing. Quarter stick firecrackers do not contain nitroglycerin as dynamite does, and have far less explosive power.

The protestors were fishermen opposed to their products being taxed with the Value Added Tax (VAT) that goes into effect on July 1 and who at the same time demanded more government attention to their industry.

In a live broadcast from inside Casa Presidencial, President Carlos Alvarado talked about what had happened and confirmed that there were no people affected, but that they would not give in to this kind of demonstrations.

“Stones were thrown at the Presidency, a dynamite stick was launched, which puts at risk the lives not only of the people of Casa Presidencial but also of passers-by and demonstrators. Police were able to control the situation,” said the president.

“Fortunately there has been no confrontation or anything, we are a country of peace, and many, most of the people who came (to protest) are peaceful; there are some protesters who are belligerent,” he added.

Alvarado pointed out that the discussion on the specific requests of the fishermen would be met by the Ministry of Agriculture and other leaders and that the channels of dialogue remain open.