Demonstrations by private chauffeurs known as porteadores began blocking traffic in various parts of Costa Rica at 7 a.m. on Thursday.
The porteadores say they have several grievances, including demands that President Laura Chinchilla issue hundreds of new permits to allow drivers to operate. They also want police to regulate illegally operated cabs, known as “piratas.” As a measure of pressure, they have blocked at least seven transit routes in four provinces, causing morning traffic to come to a standstill and angering motorists.
The main affected areas include San José, where major traffic jams were reported in Desamparados (south) and La Uruca (northwest). Traffic also is slow on roads connecting the capital with the provinces of Heredia, Alajuela, Cartago and Limón.
Traffic Police report moderate jams on Route 27 (San José-Puntarenas), the San José-Escazú road and various points of the Circunvalación, a belt-route around the capital.
Police established surveillance points on all access roads to the southeastern district of Zapote, mostly in areas near the Casa Presidencial, although there were no protesters in that area. Most of the demonstrations were suspended by noon.
Germán Lobo, director of the Costa Rican Chamber of Porteadores, told local media that they also are protesting against the San José-San Ramón roadway expansion project, as high toll fees will affect some 1,200 of the chamber’s members. “If the government does not call us to negotiate, the protests will resume on Monday,” he said.
On Tuesday, hundreds of taxi drivers flooded the capital’s Second Avenue to demand the government enforce stricter regulations for both porteadores and piratas.