San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

2 Hurt in Clash with Cops

Two protesters were hurt in clashes with police during a demonstration against free trade this week in downtown San José.
The scuffle occurred Tuesday morning in the boulevard outside the Legislative Assembly, where protesters decried the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA).
Two protesters went to the hospital, one with a bloody lip and one with a head wound. According to the two protesters, police officers guarding the gates outside the boulevard would not let them through, even though the walkway is public. The protesters pushed the heavy gates to one side and entered. Evans Marín stayed behind and filmed the scene with his camera. A scuffle with two police officers left him on the ground with a badly injured upper lip, according to Marín and pictures sent to the news media He was taken to Calderón Guardia Hospital.
The other protesters approached the police officers and began “pushing,” said protester Luis Fernando Traña, who works at the Costa Rican Electricity Institute. After a second scuffle with the officers,Traña emerged with a head wound above his right ear that required five stitches at Calderón Guardia, he said.
Ingrid Luna, spokewoman for the Public Security Ministry, said officers were responding to aggression by the protesters. Police said there were 30 demonstrators, while protest leaders put the figure at more than 100.
An initial two police officers called for reinforcements because protesters were blocking the boulevard, Luna said. Police force director Fabio Pizarro told Diario Extra that an officer was hurt in the scuffle. Pizarro did not return a call from The Tico Times.
Broad Front lawmaker José Merino, closely aligned with the anti-CAFTA movement, sent letters to the Public Security Ministry and the Chief Prosecutor’s Office requesting an investigation into the officers’ conduct.

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