A small but cheerful group of mostly U.S. expatriates turned out Monday to protest the U.S. occupation of Iraq beneath a blazing-hot afternoon sun in front of the U.S. Embassy, in Pavas, in western San José. The embassy, however, was closed in observance of the Labor Day holiday.
The protest – organized in concert with demonstrations held around the world the same day by the Global Call Iraq Campaign – had attracted only 11 people by 4 p.m., an hour and half after it had began.
“We are impatient with the mounting death toll resulting from the U.S. occupation of Iraq,” Don Voelker, Costa Rican representative of the Global Call Iraq Campaign and organizer of the protest, told The Tico Times. The Global Call Iraq Campaign was started by Cindy Sheehan –the mother of a U.S. soldier killed in the Iraq war – and others who protested in front of U.S. president George Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Voelker said the fact that the embassy was closed didn’t matter, as the intended audience of the protest was the Costa Rican people. He did say he was disappointed with the turnout, which he hoped would be larger.
“I had always thought Costa Rica was one of the leaders in advocating peace,” Voelker said. “I’m a little confused.”
Various protestors attributed the low attendance to the annual May 1 march on the other side of San José (see separate story). At least one Tica, however, managed to get both in.
“I like to oppose that which is unjust,” said Karolina Moreno, a Costa Rican woman who was returning from the march in San José, saw the anti-war rally in front of the U.S. Embassy and got off her bus to join in.
Karolina explained that there were similarities between the Pavas protest and the one in San José, which focused largely on opposing the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA).
This week’s protest marks the second by the Global Call Iraq Campaign in Costa Rica. The first was on March 21, the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Another is planned for Aug. 9; for information e-mail [email protected]