Hundreds of Cartago residents blocked streets Friday in the surroundings of Casa Presidencial in Zapote to demand that President Luis Guillermo Solís pay more attention to the province.
Demonstrators started arriving at around 10 a.m. on a dozen buses but also in trucks, cars and on motorcycles.
Community groups led by Christian Democratic Alliance Party lawmaker Mario Redondo Poveda, who’s from Cartago, gathered in front of the presidency, chanting slogans and asking for Solís to receive several petitions they brought. They want the government to invest more money to create jobs in Cartago, and improve public services and road infrastructure.
“Cartago deserves more!” “We need actions, not words!” and “You will not play with Cartago anymore!” were some of the slogans displayed on banners and chanted by the crowd along the street in front of the president’s office.
Redondo said Solís has completely overlooked the province’s problems, and that the government has postponed construction on a new hospital for Cartago and a new highway between the province and the capital San José. Meanwhile, he pointed out, the Solís administration is moving forward with plans to build a new airport in Orotina, new highways to San Ramón and San Carlos and new hospitals in various other provinces.
He also complained that the government currently has no plans for building any housing projects or investing resources to improve public utilities in his province, and that Cartago has been forced to become a bedroom community because of the lack of local jobs.
“Thousands of Cartagineses are forced to commute everyday to companies in San José, Heredia and Alajuela as there aren’t any job options in our province. But our people are rising up and we will fight for our rights,” Redondo told the chanting crowd.
Cartago is the third most populous province after San José and Alajuela.
A recent employment outlook survey from consultant company Manpower showed that 15 percent of employers in Cartago expect to add new jobs during the next quarter. That’s the second best hiring outlook in the country after Alajuela.