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Monday, May 16, 2022

Hundreds march in Costa Rica against new taxes, agreement with IMF

Hundreds of people marched through the capital of Costa Rica on Monday to reject that new taxes be included in an agreement the government plans to present to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to clean up the country’s finances.

The crowd crossed the central Avenida Segunda of San José to the east, passing by the headquarters of the Legislative Assembly (parliament) toward Casa Presidencial with flags of Costa Rica and various unions.

Most of the march was uneventful, but clashes broke out when protesters reached the presidency and attempted to break through a police cordon.

“No more taxes” chanted the protesters in the movement, while others arrived with banners that asked lawmakers to “legislate for the people.”

The march came after two weeks of road blockades in various parts of the country against a proposal to increase taxes as part of the negotiation to reach an agreement for $1.75 billion from the IMF.

The government withdrew its proposal for a tax increase on Sunday, October 4. Although the mobilizations initially continued, they have been declining throughout the last week.

Monday, in addition to the march, seven roadblocks were reported — far from the more than 40 points customary last week, although traffic through the border with Panama in Paso Canoas remains blocked, according to a government report.

President Carlos Alvarado, along with the legislative president, Eduardo Cruickshank, announced Sunday night the start of a national dialogue with all sectors of the country.

The participants of the dialogue will have four weeks to formulate a proposal to face the financial crisis the country is experiencing. Meetings will include employers, unions, academics and others.

The demonstrations have been held to pressure the government into avoiding new taxes in any future plan.

Costa Rica closed 2019 with a fiscal deficit of 6% of GDP, but this year it projects an increase to at least 9.7% of GDP, as a result of the containment measures related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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