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Costa Rican public sector unions march in support of roadblocks

October 6, 2020

Hundreds of public sector workers marched through the capital of Costa Rica on Tuesday in support of the movement of road blockades that began a week ago in rejection of a proposed agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“Let the rich and their fortunes pay, not the workers,” the protesters urged in a banner displayed at the march that went to the headquarters of the Legislative Assembly.

The movement was called by the National Association of Public Employees (ANEP), the main union of state workers, and had the support of some unions of educators.

The so-called National Rescue Movement began a series of road blockades across the country last Wednesday to pressure the government to desist from its negotiation proposal with the IMF.

The government agreed on Sunday to withdraw the proposal — which was criticized for pushing for temporary taxes instead of cutting spending — but the movement maintained the protests.

The blockades have created chaos in traffic and led to clashes with the police, particularly in areas outside of San José.

On Tuesday, a man who identified himself as Alexander Arrieta said in a video that protesters in the northern canton of San Carlos had prevented him from going to the hospital with his wife, who was in labor.

An ambulance had to come to help the woman to take her to the local hospital, where she gave birth.

Public Security Minister Michael Soto said Tuesday that local criminal organizations have joined some blockades, contributing to the clashes with police.

“The intention of the National Police, the government and the Public Security Ministry is to protect citizens, and in that we are working,” Soto said. “Our intention is not to clash with protesters.”

The agreement with the IMF is considered key by the government and independent economists to face the fiscal deficit, projected at 9.7% of GDP for this year.

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