Workers at children’s agency march to protest funding

The Patronato Nacional de Infancia led a march of approximately 200 persons Friday to protest that the Ministerio de Hacienda and the executive branch of the government for not providing adequate funding to improve the lives of poor children. The march coincided with the last working day before the Día del Niño.

Children’s day was Sunday. The protesters marched to the Corte Suprema building to deliver appeals against the Chinchilla administration and the ministry. They claim that both parts of the government are not providing as much money for helping poor children as they are legally obligated to do so.

The protesters also delivered a complaint against the Sala IV constitutional court for not resolving the legal issue fast enough.

“The government is not giving sufficient money to attend to the poorest children,” said Gilberto Pereira of the Patronato. “They don’t have money because the government won’t comply with the law.”

The Patronato is a government organization charged with providing aid and assistance to the country’s children.

According to a press release written after the event, a law obligates the government to give 7 percent of its tax revenue to the patronage. The press release also states that the patronage only receives 1 percent of tax revenue.

In three years, the government has cut 120 billion from the PANI institution, said Milton Gutiérrez, a lawyer at the Patronato.

The agency, known as PANI has been pursuing the matter in court since July, 2011, and Rodolfo Lopez Meneses, vice president of the Asociación de Abogados de PANI, filed this appeal partially against the court for not addressing the issue fast enough.

“There is not willingness to create programs to care for the children,” said Gutiérrez.

In the press release, members of the agency said that they cannot do the job of properly caring for poor children at the rate they are currently funded. The release said that the organization has 43 lawyers to deal with 40,000 legal cases and 243 psychology professionals to deal with 34,000 children who need counseling in some form.

The press release also said that members of the organization could only assist two-thirds of the 13,320 at-risk children last year, according to the organization’s annual progress report, and the organization was only able to add three locations in the past six years to deal with these issues. It currently has 783 locations.

The protest started at the Patronato’s offices in Barrio Luján. Marchers went to the court building to deliver the appeals and then ended the march at the Asamblea Legislativa’s building on Avenida Central.

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