Burning Judas night sees more fires but less property damage

The Easter weekend saw an 81 percent increase in set fires as youngsters and adults participated in the quema de Judas Saturday night. Still the Fuerza Pública said it has reduced the violence by planned programs in Santa Ana and Santa Bárbara de Heredia.

Typically youngsters and some adults blockade roads and eventually burn an effigy of the apostle blamed with turning in Jesus Christ with a kiss. But the violence started Friday.

That was when neighbors in Libertad 1 in Pavas were participating in throwing water on passing cars. This appears to be a local annual celebration. A vehicle containing four men shopped short after being doused with water. Two men got out the rear doors and fired four times on the assembled crowd. A 7-year-old girl took a bullet in the back, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. The child was hospitalized.

Fuerza Pública officers had to fire smoke grenades at a crowd of youths in San Rafael de Heredia Saturday night after they began throwing rocks at police. There were arrests reported Saturday night, but probably not as many as last year when there were 86.
The Cuerpo de Bomberos said that there were 29 blazes that required intervention by fire fighters Saturday night and early Sunday.

The fuel for the set fires was mostly garbage, said the fire agency, although one firemen was reported injured by a thrown rock in San Rafael.

The greatest number of fires was in Heredia with 14. There were five fires in Belén, the fire agency said. In 2011 there were just 16 blazes that required the attention of fire fighters.

There were no structure fires. In 2009 Judas participants burned down a furniture store in San Rafael. Two years earlier youths there torched a vehicle.

Each year the Fuerza Pública sets up programs to reduce the violence. In Lindora de Santa Ana again this year there were sports competitions and bicycle races. There also was a downpour Saturday night that cooled Judas night participation.

In Piedades de Santa Ana there was a celebration with masked figures. The goal was to occupy the youngsters and distract them from the fires and road blockades.

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