President Carlos Alvarado condemned an outbreak of violence outside Casa Presidencial that occurred Monday afternoon when protesters attempted to break through a police cordon.
Twenty-eight people were arrested and 11 police officers were injured in the events, the Public Security Ministry (MSP) said.
“Our police are civilians, and they are men and women who are dedicated to caring for citizens,” President Alvarado said. “I condemn the brutal and murderous violence with which they have been attacked today [Monday].
“We will put the full weight of the law on those directly responsible and the instigators. We are a country of dialogue and peace, but also of laws and respect for the lives of our fellow men.”
The events overshadowed what had otherwise been a peaceful demonstration that began Monday morning in downtown San José. Hundreds of people marched on Avenida Segunda and by the Legislative Assembly to demand that the government abstain from introducing new taxes.
The Movimiento Rescate Nacional, one of the march organizers, alleged “a group of people” infiltrated the protests to “provoke chaos and disorder.”
MSP says it is investigating the matter; both authorities and the Movimiento Rescate Nacional have acknowledged that organized crime groups have instigated violence during other manifestations in recent weeks.
“What started as a peaceful march resulted, as we have all seen, with a direct aggression against police,” Public Security Minister Michael Soto said of Monday’s events.
Watch video of the clashes below:
The U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica has issued an alert advising citizens to “exercise caution” in the vicinity of protests and to “avoid such large gatherings whenever possible.”