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Police re-take docks from striking union workers, arrest 68

October 23, 2014

Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa announced that police had removed striking stevedores from the docks in Moín and Limón, which handles 80 percent of Costa Rica’s international trade, Wednesday evening with the support of Casa Presidencial.

At 5:50 p.m. Wednesday, 150 police officers swarmed the docks and quickly retook control of the valuable port infrastructure. Authorities arrested 68 people: 53 in Moín and 15 on the dock in Limón. During a press conference that evening, Gamboa said that the docks had been reopened and that police would remain on location to ensure their continued operation.

“Police take control of the docks. Prudent and respectful,” Gamboa tweeted.

“National Police officers will remain at the docks until they operate normally,” tweeted the Security Ministry.

La Nación reported that the Atlantic Port Authority, JAPDEVA, had reopened the docks Thursday morning with contracted foreign labor. JAPDEVA General Manager Pablo Díaz refused to name the nationality of the substituted workers. The first ship arrived at Moín Thursday morning to begin unloading its cargo.

“Everything ready for the first ship to dock in Moín.”

Ronaldo Blears, leader of the JAPDEVA union, SINTRAJAP, told reporter Luis Miguel Herrera of the daily La Nación that the police action was “outrageous” and that if the government struck the union, the union would strike back.

SINTRAJAP, started an “indefinite” strike to protest a provision of the $1 billion-concession granting APM Terminals the right to build and operate a “mega port” in Moín and hold a 33-year monopoly on the handling of containers there. SINTRAJAP alleged that the concession would threaten jobs at the public-owned docks. Wednesday’s strike followed an unsuccessful appeal brought by SINTRAJAP workers against the concession earlier this month.

Thursday morning, Labor Minister Victor Morales, Presidency Minister Melvin Jiménez, and Vice Minister of the Presidency Ana Gabriel Zúñiga received SINTRAJAP representatives, Broad Front Party lawmakers and Legislative Assembly President Henry Mora of the ruling Citizen Action Party to discuss the strike.

Morales is expected to give a statement about the negotiations later Thursday.

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