U.S. trio attacked in car by mob of protesters in Liberia

October 23, 2015

An elderly U.S. expat and two friends were brutally attacked last week by a mob of protesters near the Liberia airport who broke out all the windows of their vehicle and beat the men with clubs, causing serious injuries.

The attack was apparently part of a regional demonstration by fishermen protesting prohibitions on selling shark fins and government obstacles to renewing their boating licenses. Demonstrations were reported in Puntarenas, Caldera, Liberia and Quepos.

Daniel Bizier, 69, a retired dentist from Maine who lives in Playa Matapalo, near Playa del Coco in Guanacaste, was driving his friend Bruce to the hospital in Liberia last Tuesday because the latter was having an acute attack of rheumatoid arthritis. With them was Bruce’s brother Ricky, who arrived three days earlier from the U.S. for a visit, and Bizier’s dog, Lily.

Near the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport, Bizier said 25 or 30 people surrounded their car and attacked, breaking out the windshield and every window in his vehicle with rocks and cinder blocks.

Daniel Bizier's windshield, destroyed by protesters with rocks and cinder blocks.
Daniel Bizier's windshield, destroyed by protesters with rocks and cinder blocks. (Courtesy of Daniel Bizier)

“As we approached, out of nowhere — I didn’t see any masses of people, I don’t know where they came from, it happened so quick — they surrounded the car,” Bizier said in a telephone interview.

“The people looked like zombies,” he said. “They had a crazed look on their face like they wanted to kill us. We had put the windows up when they started pounding. I have a new Toyota Fortuna, and they busted every single window.

“Then they started on us, they tried to drag me out of car, tried to grab me. I was pulling away and they beat me with clubs. My shoulder is still swollen and I’m black and blue. My friend got glass in his eye; they had to pull glass out of his eye at the hospital.”

Daniel Bizier's upper arm remains black from being clubbed by protesters.
Daniel Bizier's upper arm remains black from being clubbed by protesters. (Courtesy of Daniel Bizier)

The press office of the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) confirmed that a North American resident of Costa Rica complained of being attacked near the airport “when unknown persons started throwing rocks at the car and hitting them for no reason.” The OIJ said a Costa Rican woman was also attacked by demonstrators in the vicinity.

Edry Mendoza, an attorney who is representing Bizier and a Costa Rican schoolteacher whose vehicle was damaged in the protests, said you can see police standing around “like spectators” in a video that was captured of the event.

“One would hope that at least the authorities would blow a whistle or say stop, but what I’ve heard is that the police here in these towns don’t have any experience in managing big crowds,” he said.

Mendoza said tourists arriving at the Liberia airport were forced to walk from the airport because the road was blocked.

“Tourists get off a plane thinking they’re in paradise, and they have to walk four kilometers to get to transportation,” he said.

Bizier said there were “probably 40” police officers in the area, both traffic and regular police, who did nothing to stop the mob from attacking.

“We all thought we were going to die,” Bizier said. “Police were just watching like they were numb, like they were part of it or spectators. … They did absolutely nothing.”

Bizier said the demonstrators were in front of the car, and he didn’t want to gun the accelerator and run people over, though he posted on Facebook that that’s what he should have done.

“I was trying to get away as much as I could,” he said. “They didn’t want me to move, and I kept inching my way out of there. Little by little I tried to get out of there.”

Bizier finally escaped the mob, and he and his passengers were taken by ambulance to the hospital.

“I had a cut in the face, a cut in the neck, a huge, huge injury to my left shoulder where they pounded me with a club,” Bizier said. “My shoulder and upper arm were [swollen to] twice the size. Even today, my upper arm is all black.”

Bizier, like his friend, is disabled with rheumatoid arthritis and had a handicapped placard displayed in his windshield.

“I was the worse with a cut in the neck that would not stop bleeding,” Bizier posted on Facebook. “They thought it might be my carotid artery. It stopped finally with stitches. … Bruce had glass in his left eye and Ricky had minor cuts. They spent 30 minutes pulling glass out of my face, neck, ears.”

Bizier said authorities were apparently aware of the planned protest because there were police and empty ambulances standing by, but there were no warnings, no attempts to divert traffic and no effort to break up the protest.

“The doctor in the emergency room apologized all over,” Bizier said. “He said, ‘I’m embarrassed and ashamed of my country for allowing this to happen.’”

You may be interested

In search of sustainability in Limón: What is sustainability?
Environment and Wildlife
Environment and Wildlife

In search of sustainability in Limón: What is sustainability?

Dr. Khosrow Farahbakhsh - September 23, 2018

I still remember the day I was asked to teach thermodynamics to a class of third year engineering students. I…

Costa Rica’s ongoing strike hits tourism industry hard
Travel & Tourism
5813 views12
Travel & Tourism
5813 views12

Costa Rica’s ongoing strike hits tourism industry hard

Alejandro Zúñiga - September 22, 2018

The strike that has been gripping Costa Rica since Sept. 10 has begun taking its toll on one of the…

Off the eaten path: Cantina X
Dining and Nightlife
Dining and Nightlife

Off the eaten path: Cantina X

William Ayre - September 21, 2018

You’ll find one of the best chifrijos in the country at the base of a mountain near Salitral in Santa…

12 Responses

  1. The police did nothing? What a tragedy! I smell a lawsuit coming on the police…

  2. Do you need an armored car to travel in Costa Rica now? Where’s the story on the family that was robbed and sexually assulted near Santa Teresa?

  3. Now it is getting a bit ridiculous here….murders and attacks on foreigners and especially gringos are out of control. The police are obviously of the same mentality as the ticos, in having a general disregard for the safety for gringos. And oh how they will whine and cry if you should have a licensed firearm and kill one of the attackers….the courts and police protect ticos minimally but outsiders, not at all. That video says it all.

  4. Any foreigner looking to start a lawsuit against anyone in this country better have a lot of perseverance, as getting a lawyer in this country to do anything like that is near impossible. They will say they will help, demand a ton of money, and then do nothing. Basically you better be willing to take it all the way to the Inter American Court of Human Rights. Costa Rica is too small and corrupt. All lawyers, prosecutors and judges will work together to ensure this process is near impossible. With that said, a smart bulldog pitbull methodology can push through the BS if the case is strong enough. But one must be very careful in what they divulge and with who. This is a VERY dangerous country for that reason. They will put you through a meat grinder and the clock will not turn. They will play every maneuver to get you to give up and quit. That is just the reality here, and it is best to clearly understand that before setting out on that path. Most people will eventually give up after the many years of legal wrangling….and they know that. But fight to the end, and you can win at the Inter American Court of Human Rights and at that level you can use a real lawyer from your home country, and not depend on any of these frauds.

  5. Always hold back some info (key evidence) here when dealing with lawyers, so you have some trump cards to play down the road. ALWAYS!!! If not, they will share it with the other side…

  6. Very disturbing indeed. The whole country and now the toursits are unwittingly becoming victims of years of brainwashing. Costa Ricans have been forced by foreign governments, NGOs and the local elite to focus ONLY on conservation. Development and job creation (other than Park Rangers) are bad words. This is the sad result when people go hungry.

  7. I can’t believe this. This is absolutely shameful. This country is spiraling out of control.

    No one cares – the only thing the people in the government care for is their fat pensions and may the devil take the rest of us.

    The cops are so stupid they couldn’t catch a crook if he took their own wallets. These cops should be fired or held as accessories to this crime.

    The dum-dum president hasn’t done a thing either. I vote here and I am proud I didn’t vote for this idiot.

  8. most americans and europeans only come to have intercourse with all their women and buy all their land and buy fancy cars that a tico cant even dream of even purchasing

    Ticos have always and will always resent this even if they are in a resort smiling and serving you

    Most peop

  9. most americans and europeans only come to have intercourse with all their women and buy all their land and buy fancy cars that a tico cant even dream of even purchasing

    Ticos have always and will always resent this even if they are in a resort smiling and serving you acting like they are super friendly

    Costa ricas tourism only supports the rich enough to invest in those businesses not the guy fishing or driving a taxi not to mention the women who sell their body for a couple bucks

    Costa rica is not pura vida i cant stand tourist who believe this country is all cookies and bubbles go live like the average tico making less then 500 bucks a month tell me if you wont rob tourist full of money or you wont sell your body for a hundred dollars anhour

    Life is tough these people are feeling the pressure and we all know you will do whatever to get by

    Most peop

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.