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Low turnout for public workers protest against proposed budget cuts

October 20, 2014

About 150 people turned out Monday to a protest called by the National Association of Public and Private Employees (ANEP) against proposed cuts to the national budget for 2015.

Most of the demonstrators were employees of the National Oil Refinery, the National Police, Traffic Police, Immigration Administration, the Child Welfare Office and the Broad Front Party.

The group gathered at 9 a.m. in front of San José’s Central Park, and at 11 a.m. they marched to the Legislative Assembly.

The protest caused a few traffic jams on the capital’s Second Avenue, but by 12:30, strong rains had dispersed most of the group.

Broad Front Party lawmaker Gerardo Vargas said all of the party’s legislators had participated in the demonstration, because they believe cuts proposed by the Assembly’s Financial Affairs Commission would affect essential education, health and judicial programs. Broad Front Party lawmakers also delivered a petition from unions to the commission.

President Luis Guillermo Solís on Sunday evening addressed the nation in a televised speech asking lawmakers to keep his proposed budget intact.

Solís warned that so-called “shock treatments” to the budget could do more harm than good, and that “they could cause a deterioration of essential public services, which would lead to setbacks in health, education or security.”

Lawmakers on the commission last week agreed to reduce by ₡97 billion ($181.9 million) the 2015 national budget proposed by Solís’ administration. The budget would total ₡7.9 trillion ($14.8 billion) if approved.

Lawmakers will begin final budget discussions this week in the full Assembly, where it must be approved in two separate rounds of debate by Nov. 30.

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