Thousands March Against Repression in Costa Rica

This past Thursday, November 15, 2012, thousands of citizens participated in a march [es] organized in response to the confrontations which occurred during the November 8 demonstration [es].

In addition to renewing their protest in defense of the Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social (the Costa Rican Social Security Organization), the protesters added other causes to the event, including the non-criminalization of social protest, rejection of political repression, and their objection to the Cybercrime Law (a recent legal reform that opponents contest has severely restricted online freedom and freedom of speech within the country).

At 9 a.m., a group of protesters left from the University of Costa Rica in San Pedro and another group departed from the Parque La Merced in San José. The groups met in front of the Costa Rican Social Security building, where they submitted a document with petitions for the organization's leaders.

Protesta 15 de noviembre, 2012

Protest November 15, 2012. Photo: Guillermo Barquero, used with permission.

In the days before the march, various people expressed their opinion about the diverse motivations that arise from participation in public demonstrations, with the goal of promoting cohesion and solidarity with the movement. This was the case with Cristian Cambronero, who wrote on his blog Fusil de Chispas [es]:

Asumir que quien critica, o quien manifiesta inconformidades, es –así tal cual- un vago, es llanamente una tontería.  Irónicamente aquellos, los buenos, los que en lugar de criticar, bretean [Costarriqueñismo para “trabajan”], y en lugar de manifestarse, bretean, también disfrutan día con día de las garantías sociales, de la institucionalidad, de los servicios, y de los derechos de los que gozamos todos los costarricenses, muchos de ellos conquistados a partir de intensas luchas sociales y de profundos movimientos de cambio que un día nacieron en la forma de una idea disidente, o de una crítica fundada al status quo.

To assume that anyone who criticizes, or demonstrates disapproval, is – just like that – lazy, is simply ridiculous. Ironically, those, the good ones, those who instead of criticizing, work, and instead of protesting, work, also enjoy on a daily basis the social guarantees of the institutions, of the services and of the rights that all we Costa Ricans enjoy, many of them won through intense social battles and profound movements of change that were born one day in the form of a dissenting idea, or from a criticism founded against the status quo.

There was also a call for sanity, for order and above all for peace in order to avoid violent situations that could put the safety of the persons involved at risk. Francisco Guerrero published a relevant post on his blog [TXOMA] [es] :

Costa Rica no puede seguir enfrentándose así en las calles. Hoy estamos más unidos que la semana pasada pero aún necesitamos unirnos más. Ese juego se gana en los medios. La marcha del jueves debería ser solo un primer paso de una Costa Rica unida. Demostremos que, como ciudadanos nos manifestamos pacíficamente, demostrémosle al país por qué estamos marchando.

Costa Rica cannot continue confronting itself this way in the streets. Today we are more united than last week but we still must unite more. This game will be won through the media. Thursday's march must be only the first step of a united Costa Rica. We will show that, as citizens, we protest peacefully, showing the country why we are marching.

Protesta 15 de noviembre, 2012. Foto Simón Avilés, usada con permiso.

Protest November 15, 2012. Photo: Simón Avilés, used with permission.

On Twitter, various impressions of the event spread quickly.

Some, like Jota Pe Zeta (@barvak) [es], doubted the honesty of the demonstrators and did not support the march:

@barvak: El “efecto” de las marchas son como los gritos de los niños. Ningún niño hace berrinche en la casa, siempre lo hace en público

@barvak: The “effect” of the marches is like children crying. No child has a tantrum at home, they always do it in public

Andrés Obando (@Ando3119) [es] wrote:

@Ando3119: Luchar por Costa Rica no solo se logra yendo a una marcha!! #OJOALDATO

@Ando3119: One doesn't only fight for Costa Rica by having a march! #OJOALDATO (hashtag translates as “Look at the facts”)

Nor was there a lack of jokes. For example, Javier Rodríguez (@Rolly__) [es], tweeted:

@Rolly__: Soy un despichin [rebelde]…fumo mecha [marihuana] chancletudo [hippie]..voy a las marchas..tengo camisa del Che..y me gusta el “arte” soy totalmente IN

@Rolly__: I'm a rebel… I smoke marijuana..I'm a hippie..I go to marches..I have a Che t-shirt..and I like “art” I'm totally IN

A few also wrote concerned tweets, like this one from @moboza [es]:

@moboza: Ojalá no se metan maleantes que no tengan nada que ver en la #MarchaCR seria una lástima volver a presenciar los mismos disturbios de antes

@moboza: I hope troublemakers don't get involved at all in the #MarchaCR it would be a shame to witnessing the same disturbances as before

According to observers and participants, there were no violent incidents during the march and the event had a festive and dynamic feeling. Some attendees took advantage of the opportunity to report with photos and Twitter commentary.

Raquel Mora (@Raql06) [es] tweeted:

@Raql06: Hoy se demostró que no hay mordaza que atrofie cerebros!! El pueblo se hizo sentir!!!#marchacr #leymordaza

@Raql06: Today we showed that there is no gag that weakens brains!! We made them feel the people!!!#marchacr #leymordaza (“gag law”)

Roberto Sánchez (@BrokenIllusion1) [es] shared a photo:

"Las cosas, no se cambian desde tu sillón" - En la CCSS #1CR #MarchaCR

“‘Las cosas, no se cambian desde tu sillón’ – En la CCSS #1CR #MarchaCR.” (“Things don't change from your chair – At the CCSS #1CR #MarchaCR”) Photo shared on Twitter by @BrokenIllusion1

Alicia Coto Guzmán (@piladetrastos) [es] took a photo of two female police officers who received flowers from a demonstrator:

"Hace un rato en Los Yoses, una chica le dio flores blancas a las policías #1CR"

“Hace un rato en Los Yoses, una chica le dio flores blancas a las policías #1CR” (“A little while ago in Los Yoses, a girl gave white flowers to the police #1CR”) Photo shared on Twitter by @piladetrastos

President Laura Chinchilla (@Laura_Ch) [es] is in Spain and has been significantly criticized for her absence from the country during the protests. She tweeted this about the demonstration:

@Laura_Ch: Manifestantes desfilaron con orden y respeto, policía custodió como es su deber, autoridades de la CCSS escucharon. Así debe ser!! #marchacr

@Laura_Ch: Demonstrations happened with order and respect, police did their duty as guards, authorities of the CCSS [Costa Rican Social Security] listened. As it should be!! #marchacr

The march's organizers planned more demonstrations for Friday, November 16th, Saturday the 17th and Sunday the 18th in various parts of the country as part of what they have called the “National Day of Action.”

You can follow tweets on the march through the hashtags #1CR [es], #MarchaCR [es] and #ProtestaCR [es].

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