President Luis Guillermo Solís asked for prayers Tuesday for help in handling poverty and the influx of foreign immigrants. The president spoke during a Mass in honor of the Virgen de los Ángeles at the basilica in Cartago.
But it was the bishop of San Isidro de El General, Enrique Montero, who urged the government to pass more taxes to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. He also spoke against gay marriage, corruption and abortion and stressed the usual Roman Catholic position. The Catholic Church, as the official religion benefits from a range of tax exemptions.
The Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles is the destination each year for more than a million pilgrims who walk from all over Costa Rica and other Latin countries. Many stood in the hot sun to hear the president and the bishop, although the VIP section containing government officials had chairs.
Solís spoke of many citizens who are in poverty despite having jobs. He cited fishermen, farmers and factory workers. And he made special reference to those who were far from their country, meaning the migrants.
Costa Rica handled a wave of some 8,000 Cubans heading to the United States, but now seems stymied by thousands of Africans who have managed to get into the country. Panamá is having the same problem with illegal migrants trying to reach the United States.