April 12th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Protests and unrest marred yesterday’s celebration of national hero, Juan Santamaria, known locally as Dia de Juan Santamaria, celebrated in Santamaria’s hometown of Alajuela.
Protestors demonstrated their disenchantment with President Laura Chinchilla, her government, and the controversial concession of the San Jose-San Ramon highway.
There were security measures never before seen by Costa Ricans on this national holiday: roadblocks and barricades that prevented parents from seeing their children march in the parade, police fencing keeping citizens a hundred yards from the president, and heavy-handed actions by police, including allegations that police mistreated several protestors and members of the press.
Journalists from several local media outlets say they were beaten by presidential security forces when attempting to approach president Chinchilla for questions after her speech.
Shouts, insults, and even stones were hurled by protestors, as police attempted to maintain a security barrier around Juan Santamaria Park as President Chinchilla gave her speech.
Meanwhile, a group of protestors blocked the passage of the vehicle of the President of the National Liberation Party, Bernal Jimenez, breaking one of the vehicle’s windows.
At the same time, a bus filled with students from the University of Costa Rica was detained by traffic officers. The students had planned to march down the main street of Alajuela, but transit officers said the vehicle was over its passenger limit and would not allow the bus through.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country, taxi drivers protesting on the General Canas highway brought traffic there to a standstill for a brief period of time.