Unhappy crowd rallies against the proposed tax proposal

A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias Vela These protesters became angry when legislators mounted a truck and tried to talk. Some of the cries were 'Judas' and 'Traitor.'

Hundreds of dissatisfied Costa Ricans occupied the front of the Asamblea Legislativa Tuesday to voice their anger at the proposed tax plan.

“Judas! Traitors,” yelled a group of protesters to a few legislators who joined the rally. The lawmakers mounted a truck with speakers that was being used by organizers of the demonstration. The truck was in front of the south entrance to the Assembly building on Avenida Central. The representatives that participated were from Movimiento Libertario and Accesibilidad Sin Exclusión. There also was the single representative of Frente Amplio. The sight of the lawmakers drove the peaceful crowd into a frenzy, since they believe these similarly minded politicians aren’t doing enough to stop the proposed 14 percent value-added tax.

At one moment protesters were so upset they began to boo and violently shake the truck. That was when Mireya Zamora Alvarado, a legislative deputy from the conservative Movimiento Libertario, got the microphone to express her discontent in the proposed tax plan. She made the point and said she was in solidarity with everyone else. The crowd settled once she stopped talking, and Mariano Rodriguez Pacheco, vice-secretary of the Asociación de Profesores de Segunda Enseñanza, started a chant opposing the tax plan. The crowd repeated it after him.

Regardless of the heavy rain, protestors gathered to chant and march earlier Tuesday with the goal of derailing what is being called the Ley de Solidaridad Tributaria. The meeting point was at the Parque Central where around 100 people gathered underneath a bandstand roof to try and stay dry. The energy of the people was kept upbeat with music, drumming, passing out of banners and balloons, as well as handing out white collared T-shirts that read Yo defiendo mi derecho de exonerar or “I defend my right to be exempt.” Vendors took advantage to sell umbrellas and plastic ponchos.

There was even one person on horseback.

At 9:30 a.m. the crowd took over Avenida Segunda in front of the Ministerio de Hacienda and across from the Teatro Nacional. They stood in the rain for about an hour giving time to fellow protestors to show up and for the rest of the avenue to be cleared of buses, taxis, and cars. Fuerza Publica officers stood along the sidewalk in pairs watching over the peaceful protest. One man on a motorcycle stood at various intersections blocking traffic heading south, so the protest could continue without any obstructions. He did this after he noticed that cars were disregarding the people protesting and continued to drive through the crowded street almost hitting a few at one time.

What began with a hundred people ended with a couple hundred at the door of the Asamblea Legislativa where the sweeping tax plan awaits an approval or rejection. The people fear the approval of the Ley de Solidaridad Tributaria because the most affected will be the middle class, and not the rich, according to the chants, and the signs.

“We want to defeat the fiscal plan! The people don’t want the fiscal packet,” said Rodriguez.

Instead of the proposed tax plan protesters repeatedly said that lawmakers should tax the rich and raise wages. Frente Amplio’s José María Villalta Florez Estrada said that there should be a reform that is more beneficial to the masses.

“There should be a reform that is more integral. A reform that steers away from corruption. A reform that increases the taxes of the big businesses and the rich. There should be a just reform,” said Villalta.

Still a coalition of the Partido Liberación Nacional and Acción Ciudadana appears to have enough votes to pass the proposals with floor debate and other technical matters can be cleared away.

Meanwhile, inside the legislative complex the Asociación Unidos por la Educación and some lawmakers linked to the opposition Alianza Nacional presented a document seeking to eliminate a 2 percent tax on private education. That proposed tax is in the draft of the bill. Originally majority lawmakers wanted to assess the full 14 percent tax on private education.

A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias Vela Marchers continue their wet walk up Avenida Segunda to the legislative complex.

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