More protests announced during President Obama’s visit to Costa Rica

April 15, 2013

Residents of the cantons that oppose the renovation of a highway from San José to San Ramón said on Monday they would protest in the streets during the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama to Costa Rica in May.

A large May 4 rally is scheduled to coincide with the second day of Obama’s visit, and organizers said they planned to protest “in several places across the country,” including the Caldera Highway (San José-Puntarenas) and areas surrounding Juan Santamaría and Liberia international airports.

A group called the “Foro de Occidente,” or Western Forum, is demanding that a private, $540 million concession with Brazilian company OAS for the renovation of the San Ramón Highway be declared illegal and suspended.

They also are seeking the firing of Public Works and Transport Minister Pedro Castro, who they say used to work as an adviser to the Brazilian company before taking his post in public office.

Leaders of the Foro de Occidente claim that there are sufficient grounds to terminate the contract without exposing the country to a hefty $35 million fine.

Last week, taxi drivers also threatened to block streets during the visit of President Obama, also in areas surrounding the Juan Santamaría International airport, outside San José, when Obama arrives in Costa Rica on May 3.

Taxi drivers are demanding government officials enforce regulations for private chauffeurs, or “porteadores,” and informal taxis known as piratas.

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