Protests were many, peaceful and not well-attended

Midday rains put a damper on what was supposed to be a national strike Tuesday.

Police said they only detained six persons and five of them were minors. Casa Presidencial reported that only about 3 percent of the workers at the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social did not show up for work.

There were spotty annoyances, such as a blockade by protesters that prevented vehicle access to the Tambor ferries in Puntarenas. There also were some blockades reported on the General Cañas autopista that slowed traffic, including that for tourists headed to Juan Santamaría airport.

Casa Presidencial also reported that there were normal operations at the Moín docks on the Caribbean. Dock workers were expected to block access as part of the protest.

Despite the generally orderly protest march, the U.S. Embassy put out a warning bulletin well after the demonstrations had dispersed Tuesday afternoon. It said in part:

“Large protests are underway throughout downtown San Jose, its surrounding areas, the Caribbean province of Limón, and Santa Cruz, Guanacaste. At the present time, Second Avenue downtown is closed due to protesters and there are large crowds gathered in front of the Congressional building and the Presidential Palace in Zapote. Currently, the protests are peaceful in nature, but U.S. citizens are encouraged to avoid these areas when there is an ongoing demonstration and to exercise caution if in the vicinity of demonstrations.  Please be advised that there could be further protest activity in other locations as the day progresses.”

The Fuerza Pública said it detained two minors who were rolling rocks toward pedestrians in La Carpio and that three minors and an adult, 18, were detained along Ruta 32 in Limón where they were trying to charge motorists tolls. Those who did not pay suffered busted windshields, said police.

Police noted that there were protest groups at the Universidad Nacional in Heredia and outside the law school of the Universidad de Costa Rica in San Pedro. The group in San Pedro, who styled themselves as anarchists, blocked the highway for a time.

There were protests of some form or another at about 30 locations in the country.

Casa Presidencial noted that the demonstrations were peaceful and reiterated the desire of officials to engage in dialogue with groups with grievances. It said that only about 2,000 Caja employees joined the marches out of the 53,000 persons employed by the agency. That claim does not take into account those who might have not marched during working hours.

Casa Presidencial quoted Carlos Ricardo Benavides, minister to President Laura Chinchilla, saying that the central government will not permit strikes by employees in essential services. Listed were police, physicians and health workers.

One complaint of marchers was that the president had vetoed legislation last year that would have reaffirmed their right to strike without restriction.

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