May Day in Costa Rica this year brought together protesters from public workers unions and a wide variety of other groups, including high school and public universities students, sex workers, indigenous people, LGBT activists, feminists and socialists.
The annual march started at about 10 a.m. in front of La Merced Park on San José’s Avenida 2. Another group of protesters joined the march a few blocks ahead. That bloc was formed by groups asking support for Cuba, Palestine, Venezuela and even a small group of self-identified anarchists who took the front of the march. The mostly scattered group covered some four blocks along Ave. 2.
Public workers unions marched, as always, to commemorate International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day or Labor Day, but they focused their protests this year against bills under discussion at the Legislative Assembly that would broaden taxes, and curb public sector salaries and benefits.
Along the march route and upon their arrival in front of the Assembly, protesters displayed banners and chanted slogans against the government, particularly President Luis Guillermo Solís and his cabinet members.
Some signs bore harsh insults aimed at the president. One read: “No more Luis Gui, or any of his ministers! We will never again accept any of those bourgeois oppressors of the working class!”
Wrath was also aimed at former presidents Óscar Arias and José María Figueres, both of whom are rumored to be interested in the 2018 presidential nomination from the National Liberation Party.
No major incidents
The May Day demonstrations ended peacefully around 1 p.m. In past years, groups have vandalized the Legislative Assembly buildings and clashed with cops.
National Police officers formed a perimeter around the Assembly’s main building early on Sunday morning. Security measures also included closing traffic access to all surrounding streets.
Albino Vargas, secretary general of the National Association of Public and Private Employees, the country’s largest union, demanded lawmakers meet protesters on the street and accept a list of demands. After several minutes, Henry Mora from ruling Citizen Action Party and Broad Front’s Gerardo Vargas agreed to meet with protesters and accepted the documents.
Legislators had a long work day Sunday, negotiating for the election of a new directorate, which was sworn in Sunday evening. According to Vargas, Mora has pledged to propose an amendment to move the election of the Legislative Directorate to a different date “in order to leave May 1 only as a celebration date for workers.”
See photos from the Labor Day demonstration: