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False social media posts preceded anti-immigrant protest in Costa Rica

August 19, 2018

One day after dozens of people were arrested after a protest in downtown San José, where people expressed their opposition to an influx of Nicaraguan migrants, it appears that a series of fabricated social media posts helped stoke the flames of xenophobia.

The daily La Nación reported Sunday that false posts, widely circulated before Saturday’s protest, claimed that Nicaraguans were burning flags, that Nicaraguan military agents were invading the country, that  President Carlos Alvarado had signed a special decree to provide government support for trans women from Nicaragua, and that the University of Costa Rica was providing full scholarships to Nicaraguan refugees.

The post about Nicaraguans burning the Costa Rican flag used an image from a punk rock concert in 2016, the daily reported.

A total of 44 people were arrested at Saturday’s protests and La Merced Park, site of the protests and a popular gathering place for Costa Rica’s Nicaraguan community, is closed indefinitely, according to the Public Security Ministry.

“These violent protests were unprecedented in the history of Costa Rica,” Communications Minister Juan Carlos Mendoza said at a news conference broadcast via Facebook from Casa Presidencial on Saturday, adding that President Alvarado will address the nation on this topic Sunday.

Public Security Minister Michael Soto said that 44 people were arrested at the protest.

Nicaraguan refugees have arrived in Costa Rica in increasing numbers in recent weeks due to Nicaragua’s ongoing crisis. Read more here:

 

 

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