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U.S. Embassy issues security alert over expected protests (Feb. 15)

February 11, 2021

The United States Embassy in Costa Rica has issued the following security alert regarding Monday’s expected protests:

The U.S. Embassy has received credible open-source information indicating Rescate Nacional (RN) may conduct protests on Monday, February 15, 2021. In the past, protests organized by RN have occurred nationwide and have resulted in roadblocks and associated violence. According to the information, RN indicates they plan to protest the new public employment law and negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

While most protests in Costa Rica are non-violent in nature, you should exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings,  protests, or demonstrations.  Avoid such large gatherings whenever possible; do not attempt to enter or pass through them.

Célimo Guido, leader of Rescate Nacional, has reportedly said that protests will begin Monday outside the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM).

“We are not going to reveal the whole strategy,” he said.

Guido implied that there will initially be fewer road blockades than in 2020 because they “affect the economy,” and that demonstrations should be peaceful.

In September and October 2020, when Costa Rica first announced its intentions to negotiate with the IMF, Rescate Nacional blocked more than a dozen important highways and intersections across Costa Rica in protest.

Their primary complaint was that — rather than stabilizing finances through cost-cutting measures — Costa Rica was seeking a loan that would lead to tax increases.

The manifestations — which, while largely peaceful, were punctuated by occasional violence — impacted tourism and other industries.

The Costa Rican government agreed to a multi-sectoral dialogue to explore financial adjustments, helping to end last year’s protests. Following those talks, however, the Presidency said the country still required IMF assistance.

Costa Rica and the IMF in January reached a technical agreement for a $1.75 billion loan.

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