San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Government to punish protest leaders for damage caused during demonstrations

President Laura Chinchilla said Thursday her administration would seek an amendment to the law to hold people who convene public protests responsible for any damage that occurs during demonstrations.

Chinchilla said she is disappointed by violence on Tuesday when a group of bikers damaged vehicles and clashed with frustrated drivers who were trying to circumvent blocked streets. They were part of hundreds of bikers protesting against an increase in the cost of mandatory circulation permits – known as marchamos – for 2013.

The president insisted that the only condition the government has to negotiate is “for them [bikers] to refrain from blocking streets or attacking innocent citizens.” She also said she does not oppose street demonstrations “as long as they are done in a peaceful way.”

Eugenio Badilla, coordinator of the Civic Committee of Motorcyclists, on Wednesday threatened a third street demonstration of “unpredictable consequences.”

“To sit down and talk to these groups is a slap in the face of Costa Rican people. That is something we will not do,” Presidency Vice Minister Francisco Marín said on Thursday.

Contact L. Arias at

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