San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Meet the Invisibles

Several thousand protesters clogged the main avenue of downtown San José as they marched to the Legislative Assembly in the Marcha de los Invisibles (March of the Invisibles) last Saturday.

The controversial appointment of evangelical lawmaker Justo Orozco as head of the assembly’s Human Rights Commission sparked the march. Demonstrators advocated a wide variety of issues including LGBT rights, legalizing in vitro fertilization and migrant-worker benefits. 

Photo Gallery 

We asked members of the diversity movement: Why did you march?

Name: Alonso Solórzano, 22, and Carlos Benavides, 25

Why they march: Peers have called Solórzano obscene names, beaten him up and threatened his life because he’s gay. But it’s not the hate that gets to Solórzano, it’s that he’s discriminated against for loving Benavides – his boyfriend of four years. Solórzano wonders if he’ll ever be allowed to marry.

In Solórzano’s words: “I would like to have the choice because marriage is a choice. It’s a civil right not a religious thing. If straight people have that choice why can’t I?”

Name: Francisco Cordero, 66

Why he marches: Cordero doesn’t normally wear a pink bandana as a fashion accessory. But his son, who’s gay and couldn’t attend the march, asked his father to support him by donning the bandana. When Cordero’s son came out at 18, the father and son didn’t talk for four years. Then Cordero, who runs the Peace Center in Costa Rica, had a epiphany: He decided to provide a better example for his son, and he’s fought for gay rights ever since.

In his words: “I’ve had eight children. All eight are different, and all eight are entitled to be treated the same.”

Name: Laura Chinchilla Alvarado, 34

Why she marches: Chinchilla and her husband share the joy of having a son. But the mom has plenty of male and female friends who are unable to have a child. She wants her gay and lesbian friends to also enjoy the right of raising a kid of their own.

In her words: “It’s a shame the commission of the Legislative Assembly is comprised of people who do not know what human rights are and live in a cave.”

Name: Eva Campos, 35 (and her dog, Tila) 

Why she marches: Campos has gay friends who were barred from visiting significant others in hospital even as they lay dying. Campos hopes for equal economic standing in the LGBT community. But more than anything Campos worries that if her girlfriend became ill, she wouldn’t be allowed to care for her. 

In her words: “The most important thing for me is to be able to see each other in hospitals. It’s very important to be able to see my girlfriend. I have the right to be with her, to be able to make decisions with her.”

Names: Camila Barrera, 24, and Ricardo Barquero, 27

Why they march: Barrera is from Chile, where she’s participated in massive protests for equal rights. Barquero, her Costa Rican husband, wants to see those same mighty demonstrations in San José. They believe it’s time for Costa Rica to become a secular state.

In Barrera’s words: “My sister-in-law is a lesbian. I love her, and I want her to be able to marry and to have a kid, and to hold her girlfriend [without facing discrimination].”

Name: Geraldina Álvarez, 28 

Why she marches: Álvarez, a Nicaraguan immigrant, is a pastor at a Lutheran church who works with migrant workers and indigenous laborers. She has watched her immigrant friends deported in raids, and mistreatment of women is common in the community. She protested with other laborers from the region for equal rights.

In her words: “It’s difficult for us, but we’re going to keep on fighting.”

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