Protesters confronted Carlos Alvarado as the Costa Rican president left the National Theater in San José on Wednesday morning.
According to Enrique Arguedas, Deputy General Director of the Fuerza Pública, protesters surrounded the building in an attempt to stop the president from leaving. When Alvarado did exit the National Theater, protesters insulted the president and became physically aggressive against his police escort.
The President was unhurt, and Arguedas said no protesters were immediately detained.
“The President and the people there [in the National Theater] left securely,” Arguedas said in a video posted by the Ministry of Public Security.
Several police vehicles were vandalized, Arguedas said. Law enforcement also found at least three tire-puncturing beams, colloquially referred to as “miguelitos,” hidden under police cars.
In a video posted by the president early Wednesday afternoon, Alvarado emphasized the importance of peaceful democratic debate.
“Nobody should take away our freedom to travel freely throughout our country,” he said. “Nobody should take away our opportunity, as a democracy, to have peaceful and respectful political discussions.
“… We continue to work to create opportunities for this country and to avoid enormous risks. Have no doubt: We will continue to work for the good of Costa Rica.”
Watch the President’s statement in its entirety below:
Que nadie nos quite la paz de transitar libremente por nuestro país, que nadie nos quite la oportunidad como democracia de discutir en paz y respeto. No vamos a aflojar, vamos a seguir adelante. pic.twitter.com/dLYiYwqWm9
— Carlos Alvarado Q. (@CarlosAlvQ) October 3, 2018
Nationwide demonstrations began Sept. 10 against a proposed tax reform bill meant to help address Costa Rica’s growing deficit. The Central Bank of Costa Rica (BCCR) has warned fiscal reform is needed to avoid a significant economic downturn, but many public-sector union leaders say the bill would place a disproportionate financial burden on the working class.
The Tico Times spoke to Costa Rican journalist and economist David Ching earlier this week for a comprehensive explanation of the bill. Listen to the Tico Times Dispatch below, and subscribe to the podcast to have the latest episodes delivered to you:
Arguedas said that Wednesday morning’s events emphasized the police’s efforts to maintain peace while also allowing the public to exercise its right to protest.
“Unfortunately, some protesters are inciting the police and attempting to generate confrontation,” he said.
Videos posted on social media showed Alvarado’s tense exit from the National Theater. (Note: The below video contains adult language.)
Un presidente sin autoridad y sin liderazgo, deslegitimado. pic.twitter.com/V3bFZF80x2
— Allan Andres 📚 (@allanandresch) October 3, 2018