There is something for everyone to protest during march today

Protesters, mostly students, continue their protest after the sun goes down in this photo taken Nov. 8 in front of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social building on Avenida 2. A.M. Costa Rica file photo/Kayla Pearson

The march today that is likely to tie up traffic all over the downtown is a smorgasbord of social issues. Protesters can favor some or all.

Ostensibly the march is a replay of the one a week ago that had the aim of defending the financially strapped Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. Some Costa Ricans fear Caja programs will be cut.

Because some lawmakers and university students got involved in shoving matches with the Fuerza Pública and some even threw stones and sticks, the march today is against alleged police repression, said some organizers.

But there is more. Some marchers will be against genetically modified food. Others favor gay marriages, and some are still irked that President Laura Chinchilla vetoed legislation that would have allowed extensive photocopying of copyrighted works.

Some union organizers are rallying the troops over salaries. A few still are carrying the torch against the free trade treaty with the United States. And some with ties to the universities are protesting budgets.

Yet others oppose a new law that seems to create an official secret act in Costa Rica. Most agree the law is unconstitutional, and the executive branch has promised to change it.

All these political issues provide fertile ground for would-be presidential candidates and reinvigorating various organizations.

The proposed march is in two units, both beginning about 9 a.m. One group, probably the largest, will walk east on Avenida 2 from the Parque la Merced. Students from the Universidad de Costa Rica will march west from San Pedro.

Expats and others probably should plan on being elsewhere today. The director of the Policía de Tránsito, Diego Herrera, said as much Tuesday and suggested that motorists stay out of
the downtown. Blocked traffic downtown can have effects miles away, too.

President Chinchilla, in a statement Tuesday, supported in principal the right to assemble and protest, but she said that no one has the right to infringe on the rights of others, meaning blocking the streets. She has defended the Fuerza Pública response to the unruly protesters last week.

“Unfortunately, in the march last week that began as a peaceful demonstration, it degenerated into a blockade of streets, resistance to authority and in shameful acts of violence that involves some legislators which obliged the police to intervene,” said the president.

She said that her administration is not disposed to tolerate unjustified blockades of streets or violent acts by those who interfere with the police under immunity, referred to lawmakers who were involved in the scuffle last Thursday.

An organization called Movimiento Renovación Universitaria challenged that position later Wednesday night in a statement that said the right to assemble trumps the right of free passage.

The organization cited a Sala IV ruling. It also called for clearing the records of the 36 persons who were detained last week.

Executing orders of superiors, the police forces brutally attacked young people, adults and women who were in the area of the Caja and detained about 35 persons in an arbitrary manner and also disrespected and hit three legislators who were there, said Movimiento Renovación. The organization also said that the administration of the university was supporting the march.

Also supporting the march will be lawmakers of the left-leaning Partido Acción Ciudadana. Three members of the party were involved in the scuffle Thursday. Also marching will be supporters of the Frente Amplio, a political party closely allied with Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and the Cuban Communists. It’s sole lawmakers in the Asamblea Legislative, José María Villalta Flórez-Estrada, was involved in the protest last week.

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