San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Teachers and public health care workers march to the Legislative Assembly

Employees of the Social Security System, or Caja, and members of the High School Teachers’ Association (APSE) joined a protest Tuesday morning in downtown San José.

A march began at 10 a.m. outside the National Children’s Hospital and continued to the Legislative Assembly,  where hundreds of demonstrators began arriving at noon.

Caja employees called on officials to pay off government debts to the public institution. They said the march would not affect care at health care facilities. But the Caja’s media office said patient care at Calderón Guardia Hospital and Hospital México, both in San José, had been affected. Reports in other provinces estimated support for the nationwide strike as moderate. The daily La Nación reported that patients waited in line for four hours to obtain medicines at Hospital México. The Caja media office said 76 staff members of Hospital Mexico joined the strike. But the press office for the hospital told La Nación that 327 employees, including 22 who work in the pharmacy, participated in the protest. In addition, 40 surgeries were cancelled at the hospital.

Teachers unions also participated in the demonstration to draw attention to President Laura Chinchilla’s “Plan B” fiscal reform proposals, and against “the corruption of politicians,” referring to a recent scandal involving contractors hired to build a route along the border with Nicaragua.

Chinchilla said she “does not understand the reasons for the protest.” She criticized APSE’s latest move and called the group’s motives “suspect.” The president accused APSE of blocking “any measure” her administration puts forward.

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