This past week a peaceful protest turned violent over the Costa Rican Social Security System (CCSS), 25+ people were arrested, and two legislative members from PAC (Partido Accion Ciudadana, Citizen Action Party) were handled roughly and ended up the ground.
There is a larger story to be understood; citizen protests are on the rise and this, many Costa Rican’s hope, is sign of social change.
Citizen protest was on the rise and made 2011 the third highest number of collective protest actions since 1995, as reported in TCRN State of the Union https://thecostaricanews.com/national/state-of-the-union-a-society-and-political-system-struggling-with-management-problems/ article.
Many Costa Rican’s, especially the youth are beginning to demand change and better government management. The current young generation was brought up on better access to the modern world; access to the American tourist wave, American TV, and to main stream media such as CNN. This change has been reflected in many areas of society and even resulted in new a genre of music called “musica protesta” or Protest Music.
The older generations were taught to accept and to be compliant, that things are the way they are, that long slow lines were the norm, that 3 hour school days for their children was normal, that you can’t do anything about a government that takes all the control because the government had a monopoly for example such as basic services, telecommunications, and still with oil. But as more deregulation, free trade opening and emerging markets Latin America have online, citizens expect to see these changes reflected in their quality of life and when they don’t they are much more willing to take a stand.
The Costa Rica’s Information Crime Law, known as the “Gag Law” (Ley Mordaza) is another current example of the people of Costa Rica standing up to government controls. This week the government published the Gag Law in the official newspaper that put the law immediately into effect stating that citizens and journalists could now face a jail term up to 10 years if they publish “secret political information.” But a team of lawyers have already presented a document declaring the law as unconstitutional and are submitting the matter to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the next week.
While there is no question that Costa Rica leads Central America in many areas from growing middle class to strengthening democracy, to opening international access at almost every level, there is also no question that Costa Ricans expect that these changes benefit every person not just the elite and ruling classes and they are willing to fight for that right.
With change often come unease and in some cases chaos, in Costa Rica’s case we have a new generation moving faster than the slower, poorly managed government, and with National Elections a little over 1 year away we can expect to see these social issues come to the forefront.
(Based on a reported by Costa Rica News Site)
The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San José Costa Rica