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20 years

President defends response to protest; second protest planned for tomorrow

laura chinchilla

President Laura Chinchilla (archive photo)

November 14th, 2012 ( In a televised broadcast, Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla justified police actions during the march that groups carried out in “defense” of the Costa Rican Social security System (CCSS) last Thursday, and spoke out against the legislators that participated in the scuffles.  ”Unfortunately, last week’s march ended in (…) unpleasant acts of violence that involved two legislative members, which forced the police to intervene,” Chinchilla said.


She also warned that she has issued instructions to the authorities so that they will “coordinate” with those who organize any future protest, to ensure they occur in an “orderly” fashion.


Chinchilla added, “We will not tolerate the acts of any who interfere with the job of the police, under the protection of privilege of immunity.”  Chinchilla indicated that such immunity does not extend to such actions.


PAC legislator (Citizen Action Party), Claudio Monge, was one of the legislators that was present during Thursday’s march, and after watching the President’s broadcast, said, “well, that is more than obvious, as she has a military background.”  Monge was likely referring to Chinchilla’s time spent as Minister of Public Security.  He said he remembers a similar situation in 1995, when Chinchilla was working for the Ministry of Security, and the national teachers union was demanding a right to a pension.


“She knows very well about these things, this type of message is not new to her. She has been very badly advised because she has been told that her image may improve a bit if she became tougher, what she hasn’t understood is that the people are asking for a ‘tough hand’ on common crime, against drug trafficking, and against citizen’s insecurity. What she is currently doing is criminalizing social protest,” said Monge.


The legislator also stated that the President’s argument that police had to take action in order to restore the ability of traffic to move freely, contradicts with her own actions.  “I have witnessed how traffic is interrupted when the President travels,” he said.


“For the celebration of the Annexation of Guanacaste, when I was traveling as a legislator to the festivities in Nicoya, I had to wait approximately 2 hours on the side of the road because Mrs. Chinchilla’s delegation closed the Inter-American highway, she was escorted with ministers and her people. That happens all the time, they are the ones that block the roads,” he added.


Meanwhile, protestors are planning another march “in defense of La Caja” for tomorrow, November 15th.


Monge stated that the PAC party is currently considering if they will be involved in the march.


Jose Maria Villalta, legislator of “Frente Amplio”, stated that he would like for the president to be equally intolerant with corruption activity and police abuse.


“I agree that a protest should be peaceful, there must be a balance between the right to public assembly and the right of (free movement of traffic), however, those who disrespected that balance were the Fuerza Publica,” said Villalta, who also stated that he will be participating in tomorrow’s second march “in defense of La Caja.” Protestors plan to march from La Merced park to the main offices of the CCSS, beginning at 9 a.m.


The Minister of Security, Mario Zamora, said that from now on, groups of female police officers will watch over protests, as (according to him), women “are more capable of negotiating,” in these type of situations.


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