The goal of these first negotiations is to reach agreements that allow stopping the blockades in the streets. 
- Casa Presidencial photo -

Published Friday, October 9, 2020

Negotiations with protesters advance,
says the government

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Seeking to reach agreements with the protesters to end road blockades, government representatives have begun negotiations with those leading and organizing the actions.

According to the government, the goal of these first negotiations is to reach agreements that allow stopping the blockades in the streets.

The first meeting was with Vice President Epsy Campbell, the mayors of the cantons of La Cruz in Guanacaste and Guatuso in Alajuela, in addition to representatives of local farmers, business people and community leaders. They agreed not to make any more blockades in those cantons.

Another meeting was held in the Canton of Pérez Zeledón, in southern San José Province, with Rogis Bermúdez, president of the National Production Council, with the intervention of Monsignor Enrique Montero, representative of the Catholic Church and leaders of the sectors of farmers, businessmen and transporters. All agreed that the protesters will present a list of requests to the government in exchange for not continuing with the blockades in the streets.

In the northern area of the provinces of Alajuela and Heredia, the Minister of Agriculture, Renato Alvarado, began conversations with community leaders, farmers and protest leaders. The protester's demanded to reopen businesses and tourist activities, in exchange for not continuing with the blockades in the streets.

In Guanacaste Province, the Vice-Minister of the Presidency, Randall Otárola, along with other government representatives, met with the leaders of the fishermen's associations to negotiate better conditions and support for the fishing sector. 

However, protests and blockades in the streets continue in many areas of the country. According to the latest report from the Ministry of Security, the highest number of blockades during Thursday occurred in the following places:

• Guanacaste Province: in Abangares and Cañas.

• Route 32 between San José and Limon provinces.

• Puntarenas Province: Cuidad Neilly, Paquera, Buenos Aires, Uvita, Bahia Ballena, Paso Canoas and Osa.

• Alajuela Province: Vuelta Kooper, Aguas Zarcas, Peñas Blancas, Rio Cuarto, Grecia, Los Chiles, and Upala.

• Limón Province: Sixaola, Talamanca, Limon Centro, Guapiles and Pococí.

• San José Province: Loma Verde, Daniel Flores, Santana, Colón and Pérez Zeledón.

• Cartago Province: Santos Zone and Ochomogo.

Several groups are simultaneously protesting and demanding the following: no additional taxes, the reopening of businesses, a more efficient collection of already approved taxes and reductions of the government expenses, among many others.

Since last month, members of the group Movimiento Rescate Nacional (National Rescue Organization in English) created by former deputies José Miguel Corrales and Célimo Guido, have organized roadblocks in several cities around the country, as a way of rejecting the government plan to increase taxes as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, IMF, for a loan of $ 1.75 billion.

However, following the announcement by President Carlos Alvarado on Sunday, that the tax plan to the IMF was canceled, the protests have not ended.

According to the protesters leaders more than 1 million people support them on social media. The group has not reached an agreement with the government to stop road blockades and marches. They are organizing a big strike and march though San José’s main streets on Monday, Oct. 12. It is also the day that the country celebrates the Day of the Encounter of Cultures (known in other countries as Christopher Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples’ Day).

Since Oct.1, about 50 people have been arrested for obstructing public streets, resisting authorities and attacking with a weapon, according to Ministry of Security.

The people arrested were allegedly blocking roads in the provinces of San José, Heredia, Guanacaste, Puntarenas and Limón.

In the case of the blockades in Limón Province, the police report that several officers were attacked by the protesters, as well as causing damage to police vehicles, buses, people in their vehicles passing through the streets and people who tried to cross the streets on foot.

The blockades that began in September have caused a massive wave of damage in various sectors of the country, the Ministry of Security said in its statement.

This social chaos occurs in the middle of the national health emergency due to the covid-19 pandemic and generates a negative effect on the process of economic recovery, the ministry said.

According to the ministry, the government has called on the protesters to stop the blockades and encouraged their leaders to start talks with the authorities to reach an agreement.

However, the blockades continue. Approximately 1,600 people are protesting in the streets and blocking 53 main roads, in addition to 33 public areas throughout the country and about 100 police officers wounded, said the ministry.

The arrested people were taken to the cells of the Public Ministry where they must wait until a judge orders the pre-trial measures against them for obstruction of public roads, disruption of social order, and attacking police officers.

One of the leaders of the protesters, Corrales said in a press conference on Tuesday, that the violence in the marches have been caused by drug traffickers who have infiltrated into groups of protesters. "Those (referring to acts of violence) that are along the highway are being caused by drug traffickers," he said.

Regarding the government's call to stop the protests, Corrales said they will be willing to negotiate until the government includes all the leaders who represent the different groups that are marching.

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