October 23rd, 2012 (InsideCostaRica.com) – Some 450 taxi and small bus drivers protesting recent legislation have amassed outside Costa Rica’s Casa Presidencial (presidential house). The protestors have shut down traffic in and out of both the southern and northern sides of the area.
The drivers are now saying that they are awaiting the arrival 2,000 members of several Costa Rica teachers’ unions on the scene, who have also declared an unrelated mass strike and protest scheduled for today, which Inside Costa Rica reported on yesterday.
The group continues to swell at the time of this writing. The drivers are against regulation, which would establish forms of legal operation of “porter” drivers, which the protesters say are pirate taxis.
Protestors from various parts of the country such as Guanacaste, Heredia, Perez Zeledon, Limon, Guapiles and others are against the law that will regulate the “porter” services.
Some of the protestors, namely those operating small buses that carry tourists, are also claiming that the processes put in place to regulate the private transportation and “porter” services have not been fair.
Danny Rodriguez, from the transportation service “Pura Vida”, stated that they have complied with all the requirements from the Public Transportation Council (CTP, in Spanish), however, these were rejected, and according to him, the CTP chose “whoever they wanted“ when granting the legal operating permits.
“They are taking the right to work away from us, this law will affect us all,” Rodriguez said.
The drivers stated that with the arrival of the striking teachers’ unions they expect to have more than 2,000 protestors encircling the Casa Presidencial by 10 a.m.
Editor’s Note: Inside Costa Rica will continue to update this article as events unfold.
UPDATE 1: A group of private transport drivers – including those who transport children to school, as well as tourist bus drivers and others – have broken an agreement they had with Transit Police and have blocked the road between Zapote and San Pedro, on the Circunvalacion.
According to the chief of the transit police, the main highway connecting Zapote and San Pedro (known as the Cricunvalacion) has been shut down and is now closed.
Reports on the ground also say that the thousands of protesting teachers are now marching towards the Casa Presidencial.
UPDATE 2 (12:40pm): Some drivers are abandoning the blockade after agreeing to planned talks with MOPT. Some of the teacher-protesters are also now leaving the scene due to rains.