President Carlos Alvarado delivered a nationwide address Monday evening in response to protests that have disrupted travel throughout the country.
Citing Costa Rica’s history as a democratic nation, the President said his administration will continue using dialogue as the primary method of addressing issues.
But Alvarado ended with a more forceful message apparently directed at sectors — including truckers and students — that have shut down roads and highways across Costa Rica.
“The blockades have to end,” he said. “We are not going to continue to allow them to affect families and national production.
“Otherwise, the State will act to clear the roads.”
In a Facebook post mirroring his speech, President Alvarado wrote the following:
My duty as President is to achieve a balance between peace, stability and economic growth, the generation of employment, and respect for the rights of each Costa Rican, while ensuring public order and respect for the law.
Requesting the observation of the Ombudsman’s Office, and the participation of the Catholic Church and other actors as guarantors, I have directed the creation of dialogue sessions with the different sectors to build solutions.
The Government has absolute desire for dialogue with the different sectors, but I must be clear, the blockades have to end. We are not going to continue to affect families and national production. Otherwise, the State will act to clear the roads.
It is not the first time that we, as a country or as a government, face a difficult situation. But Costa Rica is capable of moving forward, and we will do so.
Over the past week, students have demonstrated against policies enacted by the Ministry of Education, prompting Education Minister Édgar Mora’s resignation Monday afternoon.
Truckers blocked roads to protest the new value-added tax, which went into effect Monday, and several other groups — including taxi drivers and fishermen — have also voiced concerns over the tax and related government policies.