36 arrested during march to demand improvements in Costa Rica’s hospitals
Hundreds of union members and protesters walked to the main facilities of San José’s Social Security System, or Caja, on Thursday to demonstrate against budget cuts allegedly approved at several public hospitals.
During the march a group of protesters clashed with riot police officers who were present to keep streets open to traffic. Police reports indicate that at least 36 protesters were arrested and sent to the prosecutor’s office on charges of disobeying a police officer.
Citizen Action Party (PAC) lawmakers Claudio Monge and Carmen Granados were injured in the scuffle between police and demonstrators.
Granados fell to the ground from a patrol car, which she had climbed to attempt to prevent the arrest of several protesters. Monge also fell to the ground after clashing with a police officer.
The protests turned violent again at about 6 p.m., when police attempted to forcibly remove a new group of demonstrators – mostly university students – from blocking traffic on Second Avenue. Traffic returned to normal at 7 p.m.
Public Security Ministry officials said in a press release on Thursday evening that they will file charges against PAC lawmakers for disobeying police orders and obstructing public roads. Ministry officials also accused Muñoz of damaging a police car.
Protesters were organized by a group called the National Patriotic Movement for the Defense of Social Security and the Caja.
Miguel Mora, a member of the Social Security Workers Union, said participants attempted to deliver a letter with demands to Caja officials, who refused to receive it.
The group demanded Caja officials improve administration of the public health care system and allocate more funds to hospitals in the provinces of Alajuela and Guanacaste, among others.
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