Million-Dollar Losses by Protests and Blockades

In the context of the protests and blockades that have been affecting Costa Rica for several days, the businessmen denounce that there are millions of losses, mainly in tourism, exports, and agricultural, industrial and commercial activities.

Monday, July 1, 2019

The protests that began last week and intensified on June 28, when students and teachers from at least 232 schools blocked several routes in the country, are caused, according to their participants, by young people objecting to issues such as dual education, neutral bathrooms, FARO tests or purchase of drones for agricultural schools.

The protests, which also sought the departure of the head of the Ministry of Public Education (MEP), were joined by a group of transporters, who added other petitions to the uprising that has several sectors at risk.

The requests of the transporters are that the government intervene so that Nicaragua suspends the charge of $50 for the entry of each truck into its territory, and that the sector is exempt from the 13% VAT, which they assure, they have to pay with the entry into force of the tax reform, this July 1.

In this context, the Alvarado administration formed a dialogue table with the dissatisfied sectors at the same time that made official that Edgar Mora, Minister of Education, will be out of the MEP.

In response to this situation, the business sector "calls for calm and a resumption of dialogue between the several sectors of Costa Rican society in order to end the protests and blockades that have recently led by groups of fishermen, transporters, teachers and students."

From the UCCAEP statement:

July 1, 2019. The Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado (UCCAEP) (Costa Rican Union of Chambers and Associations of the Private Business Sector), makes a respectful call for calm and a resumption of dialogue between the several sectors of Costa Rican society in order to end the violent protests and blockades that have recently led by groups of fishermen, transporters, teachers and students.

  "The only way to solve these problems is dialogue between the parties involved, and as a country we must seek a peaceful agreement. While dialogue processes may seem slow and difficult, it is the most effective long-term way to resolve differences, where no one is hurt and where all the points of interest of those involved can be covered," said the president of the Union of Chambers of Commerce, Gonzalo Delgado.

  UCCAEP confirmed that the protest movement, led by some carriers, already generates million-dollar losses to different productive sectors and this could jeopardize many sources of employment.

  After reviewing the most affected sectors, the following are mentioned: tourism, the export sector, agriculture, industry and commerce.

In the case of tourism, clients are reported trapped in rented cars and others in tourist buses. Some operators have incurred in the payment of charter flights to remove their customers from the places where they were trapped.

  The other sectors register: 500 containers stopped on route 32, with the risk of losing $5 million daily. It was also reported the presence of refrigerated containers on the road, empty containers that do not reach the farms, cold chambers filled with products still on farms and ships that have left without cargo. Among the most affected products are bananas and pineapples, with exports of thousands of boxes about to be lost.

  Delgado said it is unacceptable that several groups are incited to this type of protests and blockades, because the country already faced millionaire losses last year, hence he is confident that the government of President Carlos Alvarado fulfills its obligations to protect all Costa Ricans and enforce the rule of law, protecting the majority of Costa Ricans from illegitimate actions that only cause discomfort and inconvenience to the citizen.

On the other hand, with respect to the events of the previous week, when explosives were thrown at government facilities and the Legislative Assembly, the Union of Chambers describes the actions as condemnable, since this country with its peaceful history, free of an army, must put a brake on such movements and on those who encourage such actions to seek personal gain.

  "We have to respect the judicial systems, the rights of others, the institutions and our democratic system. The throwing of stones and other objects could have caused serious injuries to someone and that is not Costa Rica, those are not the characteristics of Costa Ricans. In addition, these attitudes do not favor the growth of the country, Costa Rica is not seen with good eyes in the international community when these facts occur. We must all be patient and adhere to the rules of respect and dialogue," added the president of UCCAEP.

  Another aspect that worries Delgado are the messages that have been spread through social networks where they talk about military overthrows and calls to take up arms against the government, a situation that must be stopped immediately, because they are crimes of sedition so the authorities must act with what the laws dictate.

  The representative of the productive sector reiterates the need to call for the union of all Costa Ricans to seek a common good, in addition to preventing the image of Costa Rica can be compared with other nations in the region, where differences are handled with violence and repression.

More on this topic

Blockages and Ungovernability: Diverging Positions

October 2020

After the UCCAEP in Costa Rica began to negotiate the lifting of the blockades with the self-proclaimed group Rescate Nacional, promoter of the protests, several business chambers distanced themselves from that decision and others have expressed their support.

Given the wave of protests and blockades that have been reported in the country, which arose after it was reported that to access a loan from the International Monetary Fund for $1.75 billion, the government planned to tax financial transactions, raise the tax on the profits of companies and persons, and increase the tax on real estate. The Costa Rican Union of Chambers and Associations of the Private Business Sector (UCCAEP) decided to negotiate the lifting of the blockades.

Lack of Leadership and Ungovernability

October 2020

Faced with increasing chaos in Costa Rica due to demonstrations and blockades, a part of the business sector decided, unilaterally, to negotiate with representatives of the movement that incites to protest, and to reject the official call by the President of the Republic.

The protests and blockades that are taking place in Costa Rica arose after it was reported that in order to access the $1.75 billion credit that it intends to request from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Costa Rican government proposed to tax financial transactions, raise the tax on the profits of companies and individuals, and increase the tax on real estate.

Effects of the Lack of Leadership

October 2020

Although the Alvarado administration reversed the initial proposal to ask the IMF for $1.75 billion in financing and called for an inter-sectoral dialogue, Costa Rica is semi-paralyzed by the blockades that are taking place on various roads in the country.

On the afternoon of September 17, and in the context of a severe economic crisis that had already begun before the pandemic started, the Alvarado administration presented the plan with which it intends to mitigate the fiscal impact of the Covid-19 crisis, a proposal to negotiate an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to obtain a credit of $1.75 billion.

Strike: Business Leaders Demand Swift Action

September 2018

Following a week of strikes by public unions in Costa Rica, the private sector is demanding that authorities act faster and prevent public roads from being blockaded.

In the face of the strike led by public unions in the country, which has now been ongoing for more than seven days, the Costa Rican Union of Chambers and Associations of the Private Business Sector (UCCAEP) is demanding that the government act quickly and avoid further blockades on public roads.

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