Dock workers’ protest closes Caribbean ports

May 16, 2013

Two unrelated street protests took place on Thursday. In the first, beginning at 9 a.m., union members and dock workers closed all access to the Caribbean docks of Moín and Limón in protest over a concession granted to Dutch company APM Terminals for the building of a new dock. According to union leaders, the dock’s entrances will remain closed until 4 or 5 p.m. on Thursday.

The concession, worth an estimated $992 million, grants APM Terminals a 33-year contract to build and operate a new port, called the Moín Container Terminal.

Union leaders last year tried to halt the concession, but an administrative court last August decided in favor of the project and the Dutch firm.

Also on Thursday, another protest was held by residents from various cantons of the province of Alajuela, including Palmares, Naranjo, San Ramón, Grecia, Zarcero, Naranjo, Atenas, Sarchí, Poás, and Belén in Heredia and Esparza in Puntarenas.

Residents in a group called the Foro de Occidente (Western Forum) joined motorcyclists and students in marching at 9 a.m. on the main streets of the cantons.

Protesters are demanding the government renovate a highway connecting the capital with San Ramón by using public funds, after a concession with Brazilian firm OAS was cancelled last month by President Laura Chinchilla.

Residents were outraged that the Brazilian company would have charged $8 in round-trip tolls for 30 years for transit on the 58-kilometer stretch of highway. The two-lane highway already exists – toll-free – and improvements would include only repaving, modernization and limited four-lane expansion.

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