Lawmaker wants blockades to remain a crime

The government’s gentle handling of protesters who block highways does not set well with at least one lawmaker.

He is Gerardo Vargas Rojas of the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana who called upon the government to crack down on protesters and subject them to prosecution. He was the only member of Comisión de Asuntos Jurídicos who expressed his opposition Tuesday to a proposal that would decriminalize such road blockades.

The proposal was put forward by Frente Amplio, a political party that believes in what is called street democracy.

Unlicensed taxi drivers have been blocking main highways in their dispute with the government over reduction in permits. In Palmar Sur evicted squatters are blocking a key bridge on the Interamericana Sur. Another negotiating session in that situation is scheduled for Friday.

Licensed taxi drivers also have been known to block the highways or drive at a very slow speed in the past.

Such actions are illegal, but the central government has been reluctant to have police take action, although there have been threats of confiscating vehicles and arrests.

All of these are damaging to business and residents. A recent blockade caused a woman to make a bad judgment and turn into the path of a tractor trailer with multiple fatal results.

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