A confrontation of politicians and students against police is becoming a major political issue. Students will march again Thursday, and they will be supported by some unions.
The demonstrations are supposed to be in support of the financially troubled Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. But the demonstrations also are linked to presidential politics and the revitalization of the same organizations that opposed the free trade treaty with the United States.
The Asociacion Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados came out with a 14-point manifesto in which it defended the students and criticized the Fuerza Pública. The union appears to be supporting Juan Carlos Mendoza, who is seeking the presidential nomination of the Partido Acción Ciudadana. Mendoza was one of several lawmakers who were roughed up by police in the confrontation.
Meanwhile, La Nación today came out with a scathing editorial basically disputing the version of events given by Carmen Granados, another Acción Ciudadana lawmaker. The newspaper challenged her version that she was knocked down by police. The newspaper said that a Channel 7 video clearly shows that she sought help from students to climb up on a patrol car in which detained youths were being held. She later fell.
That was when the fighting between police and protesters took place. There are other YouTube postings that seem to bear out the lawmaker’s claim.
The security ministry has defended the action by police and said the main goal was to keep open Avenida 2 to passers-by and traffic. The demonstration was in front of the Caja building on that avenue.
In fact, there were two confrontations with police. One took place about noon and was quickly quelled. The one involving the lawmakers took place in the late afternoon.
Those who participated, except the students, came from all over the country. The condition of the Caja and the continued health of that agency will be a key element in the presidential campaign that begins in earnest next year.