The independence day holiday started early Thursday with a big celebration at the Asamblea Legislativa marking the country’s 192nd year.
The festivities continue today. Other government offices plan celebrations. One is this morning at the Archivo Nacional where the nation’s most important documents are kept.
Some downtown workers will create their own holiday in light of a challenging commute because of the closure of the Circunvalación bypass. A lot of Costa Ricans feel cheated because the Día de la Independencia is Sunday, a day when most do not work. So they are not getting a paid holiday.
They also are irked because President Laura Chinchilla did not declare a holiday for public employees because the national soccer team qualified for the 2014 World cup.
If employes stay home today, most employers will be understanding. By closing the Circunvalación because of an expanding washout, traffic in the southern and western half of the city reached nightmare proportions Thursday. That situation is expected to endure for two more months while highway contractors try to stabilize the eroding soil and replace four bailey bridges on the major highway.
The situation is so bad that Luis Guillermo Solís, the presidential candidate for the Partido Acción Ciudadana, asked President Chinchilla to declare a state of national emergency. He noted that there were other, lesser collapses elsewhere, too.
This declaration would permit contracting projects in a more efficient way as well as resolving the problems that have placed the population is great risk and continue causing a gigantic economic cost for the state, he said in a prepared release. He also said that engineers from a materials lab at the Universidad de Costa Rica should supervise any direct contracts to avoid what he called the ethical lapses of the Chinchilla government. He was referring to the highway built along the northern border that has become a morass of allegations and corruption investigations.
The Cámara Costarricense de la Construcción also checked in Thursday with a statement that proposals by officials to mitigate some of the traffic congestion were not reasonable. The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said Wednesday that public employees should come to work at 9 a.m. instead of 7 to avoid the morning rush hour. The ministry also said that vehicles that are now restricted one day because of the last digit on the license plate also will be restricted during morning and evening rush hours the day previous.
These methods will paralyze the metro area for lack of a drain, said the construction chamber, referring to the site of the collapse. it asked for a more efficient solution.
The chamber said that the hours that the valley train runs should be increased, the vehicle restrictions should be eliminated, badly parked cars should be avoided and that the traffic flow on alternate routes should be improved.
The chamber said that in the eight years that traffic restrictions have been in force there has been no study to show they are effective. The chamber also listed a litany of recent infrastructure failures, including a similar washout on the General Cañas highway.
Students carrying the Antorcha de la Independencia from Alajuela through Heredia Saturday will not have to use the Circunvalación. So the torch relay is expected to arrive exactly on time again this year at San José Parque Central where a major ceremony will be held. The torch, signifying the announcement of liberty 192 years ago, is expected to enter the country today about 9 a.m. from Nicaragua.
There will be ceremonies and celebrations along the route from Guanacaste to the Central Valley. The education ministry said 20,000 students will take part in this annual relay. The torch ends up in Cartago Saturday at 8 p.m. for a ceremony with President Laura Chinchilla and ministers.
This is her last independence day as president.
The independence ceremonies are Saturday night, but there will be parades Sunday. The security ministry is having two events, one today and one Saturday. The Asociación Costa Rica de Washington, will host a party for Costa Ricans in Washington Saturday.
Lawmakers Thursday enjoyed the dancing and singing of the Grupo de Proyección Folclórica and a chorus of their own employees. The event was indoors at the legislative complex.
And there was food, traditional picado de papa, tamales, horchata and arroz con leche.