Costa Rican biker protest ends without agreement

March 18, 2015

Hundreds of motorcyclists rallied on Wednesday outside the National Insurance Institute (INS) in San José to fight against an increase in mandatory circulation permit costs – known as the marchamo. But the protest ended in stalemate after INS President Guillermo Constenla refused to budge on the issue.

Bikers are angered over a 24 percent increase in the cost of marchamos for motorcycle owners. Eugenio Badilla, coordinator of the Civic Committee of Motorcyclists, said his group doesn’t oppose a marchamo rate hike, but he considers this year’s increase “excessive,” adding that, “we won’t accept it.”

Representatives of the bikers’ group met with Constenla at noon on Wednesday. But the INS official said a modification to marchamo pricing would have to be discussed by the Legislative Assembly, the Finance Ministry and the Roadway Safety Council (Cosevi).

Albino Vargas, president of the National Association of Public and Private Employees, and Rafael Mora, legal advisor to the motorcyclists, also attended the meeting.

Vargas said shortly after 2 p.m. that “negotiations at the time have broken down because there is no political will.” He called for the creation of a high-level committee with representatives from INS, Casa Presidencial, the Finance Ministry and Cosevi.

One protester, Álvaro Valverde, called this year’s marchamo increase “an abuse of power, because now motorcycle owners have to pay higher taxes than buses or trucks.”

Earlier this month, Constenla said the increase was due to an adjustment in insurance coverage policies. He added that since 2011, marchamo fees have not covered medical expenses for accidents, particularly for motorcycle drivers.

Police officers kept watch over the rally, but bikers moved their protest to La Hispanidad roundabout, east of San José.

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