Monday 25 September 2023

Wednesday’s Protest Turns Violent

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Day three of the national strike, the single biggest day for striking public sector workers, included provocations, aggressions, sabotages and blockades forcing a criticized police response.

For the most part, until the end of the massive march in which public sector workers from all over the country participated, was peaceful as the major concentration was in San Jose, from La Sabana park to the Legislative Assembly.

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However, as the peaceful demonstration drew to a close, bottles, coins, stones, pipes, and even smoke bombs were thrown against police and journalists who were on the boulevard (Avenida Central) that divides the Sion buildings and the Castillo Azul of the Assembly.

The strikers even removed the security barriers that prevented the passage on that boulevard, to confront face-to-face police in riot gear.

A human barrier was formed this time in charge of anti-riot police, who only used their shields to prevent them from pushing through the barriers.

The protesters demanded that union leaders be allowed access to Legislature.

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Although the threats of violence began to diminish, the Public Security Ministry sent reinforcements, which included more riot police and even overflights.

However, the instruction appeared to be clear and in line with the statement made by the Minister of Public Security, Michael Soto: violent force would not be used to repel provocations.

In spite of the call of the union leaders for the protesters to stay firm, the afternoon downpour that began shortly after 1 pm, dispersed the crowds and appeased the spirits of those that remained.

According to the Ministry of Security, the disturbances after the march resulted in the detention of six people, including a music teacher. Two of the detainees were transferred face possible charges of threat and resistance to the authority. One of the two was also found in possession of drugs, the other has a history of domestic violence.

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The other four detained received only a summons from police.

According to Security, during the riots, two police officers were attacked with pepper spray by some demonstrators.

The doors of the Legislators were closed, some of the legislators were moved to other buildings for their safety and the scheduled appearance for the Minister of the Presidency, Rodolfo Piza, in the Handover Affairs Committee was canceled.

The Interamericana Norte (Ruta 1) was chocked off by protesters for some 15 hours at various points, including the Bernardo Soto section (the airport to San Ramon).

On the east side, the Florencio del Castillo had intermittent interruptions to traffic, mainly to impede access to the RECOPE plant in Ochomogo.

On the Ruta 27 and other major roads, official taxi drivers caused delays due to tortuguismo in various sections of the road. Theirs was to protest against the continuing services of Uber in the country.

President Carlos Alvarado described the actions in front of the Legislative Assembly on Thursday and the violence in Limon Tuesday night as “deplorable”.

“With deep sadness, we have seen the sabotage of public goods to try to prevent gas from reaching the kitchens of homes or hospitals, the retention of a public train affecting its passengers, the aggression of officers of the Fuerza Publica or members of the press. Neither you nor I want that Costa Rica. From the Government of the Republic we are doing everything necessary to punish those responsible for these acts with all the rigor of the law. My government will not tolerate these actions,” Alvarado said in a message released late at night.

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