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Unrest in Costa Rica over Education Ministry, new value-added tax

June 28, 2019

The President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado, supported the continuity of the Minister of Public Education, Edgar Mora, despite demonstrations led by students from 80 schools against Mora’s management.

The President said that he will decide “when his confidence is interrupted.”

“Edgar today is a member of the Executive Branch. We have to keep working. I have to talk to him about what has happened in the sector and how we project what is coming. For me, the most important thing has to do with transferring trust. We need to generate social peace,” Alvarado said.

The President took the opportunity to denounce false news that has sparked some of the demonstrations of the different sectors.

“I make a respectful call on information and the way we are informed, because in the last few days, there has been a mass of disinformation or false information that does not help in that democratic and peaceful construction,” the President said.

For example, Alvarado denied that there is a directive to celebrate International Pride Day in schools, this Friday, June 28, as was alleged by some students who protested.

“Many of the concerns that they express and that are seen in the valid demonstrations of young people are based on things that do not correspond with us or that we are not doing. For example, when the issue of concern about the issue of bathrooms is expressed: there is no guideline to do that, that is not in the interest of this government of this president, of this government,” said the President.

The theme of the bathrooms refers to a Protocol for the Attention of Bullying against the LGTBI Population in schools and colleges, which includes the possibility that the trans population use bathrooms according to the gender with which they identify.

Although the President noted that there is disinformation behind the motives that triggered the demonstrations, he did not identify who are the culprits of that campaign, unlike the Minister of Education.

Mora said he would ask the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to investigate the New Republic Party for allegedly summoning students to demonstrate in the northern zone.

“Of what has happened and the elements that are there, I, as President of the Republic, will not enter into political-party issues or anything like that. It does not correspond to me; what corresponds to me is to take the reins of this country for all,” President Alvarado said.

President Alvarado calling for calm

Alvarado also took the opportunity to call for calm, given the different social movements and demonstrations that have occurred over the past days.

He lamented what happened at Casa Presidencial on Tuesday afternoon, when a group of fishermen passed security barriers and tried to enter the premises violently.

The fishermen wanted to express concerns and potential repercussions of the new Value Added Tax (VAT), which will go into effect July 1.

The president assured that he would be willing to speak with the fishermen.

“I am willing to meet with different sectors, but that is a productive dialogue of results and not in a framework of what happened days ago in Casa Presidencial,” he said.

Nationwide unrest

During the last days, different sectors have raised their criticism and discontent with the government.

For example, in addition to the students and fishermen, truckers protested the Value Added Tax (VAT), saying it will put them at a disadvantage compared to their Central American competitors.

Wednesday, there was a confrontation between students of the Liceo Cuatro Bocas de Upala and National Police officers. The students, who were demonstrating against Education Ministry officials, closed the school with locks, and when they refused to open the building, the director called the National Police.

In several videos circulating on social networks, a physical confrontation is observed between the police and the minors.

This is compounded by an incident that occurred in the Legislative Assembly early Wednesday, when an explosive detonated in the vicinity and broke a window in the office of Deputy Zoila Rosa Volio, of the National Integration Party.

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This story was originally published by Semanario Universidad on June 27, 2019. It was translated and republished with permission by The Tico Times. Read the original report at Semanario Universidad here.

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