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President Chinchilla's Visit to Nicoya Marked By Protests

by Oliver Pérez and Emiliana Garcia
Pictures by Emiliana Garcia

Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla visited Nicoya for the 187th Anniversary celebration of the Anexión del Partido de Nicoya to Costa Rica; an area that still awaits the government's help in order to see greater progress.

During the first part of her visit, President Chinchilla held the Consejo de Gobierno behind closed doors at the Coopealianza building. There, several Ministers presented a report of the work they have done, and are doing, for the canton. For example, Ileana Balmaceda, Executive President of Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), announced that during 2012 they will start the will start the bid and awarding phase for the construction project of a new Medical Tower at La Anexión Hospital in Nicoya. So far only 50% of the building's design has been done.

In addition, the Ministro de Obras Públicas y Transportes (Minister of Public Works and Transportation), Francisco Jiménez, announced that the project in which they will asphalt the 28-kilometer road between Samara and Nosara will be included in the 2012 budget.

"During the second half of 2012 we will be putting out to tender the road's construction project in order to choose the company that will be in charge of the job. Next year, as part of this process and if needed, the eviction phase will be included", he mentioned.

The second part of President Chinchilla's visit was marked by protests. Around 500 people belonging to a group known as Frente Cívico marched through the streets with banners and loudspeakers, making demands on the government.

The group of protesters, led by attorney Wilmar Matarrita, former legislative candidate for the Frente Amplio party, was made up by residents from different Guanacaste communities, such as Playa Peladas and Guiones Sur, El Torito, Matapalo in Samara and Ostional.

The President and her Cabinet stood by the side of the colonial church before a crowd that yelled, "Laura, listen, Guanacaste is in the fight", a cry that was heard not only in front of the main stage where the Cabinet was located, but also at a distance. Protestors did not stop yelling and booing, at times making it impossible to listen to the speeches, particularly when it was the Minister of Labor, Sandra Piszk's, turn.

When it was the President's turn, in the middle of her speech, she paused and requested respect: "I ask for respect; if we don't work together, if we don't respect each other, we will not make progress. We are showing signs of goodwill. If you are making demands on the government, you should ask your legislators to pass the tax bill. But ask them", requested the President, adding that people should not let themselves be led by those whose words are only filled with complaints and criticism without offering any solutions.

After the reprimand, protesters were silent while others applauded the President.

What were the protester's demanding? From what could be read on their signs, they were requesting the approval of the Ley de Territorios Costeros (Coastal Areas Law) as well as a call for a referendum in order to turn Cobano, Lepanto and Paquera, which currently belong to Puntarenas, into Guanacaste cantons.


Once the activities ended, the President got off the stage and walked near the crowd however, due to the large police presence, hundreds of Nicoyanos who are proud of their President were unable to get close enough to greet her.


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An old, green and yellow painted school bus departs from Nicoya Bus Terminal at 11:00 a.m., only one of two daily buses for this destination. There is no public transportation on Sundays. Shortly after leaving the terminal, the bus takes the first left onto a dirt road that runs between Nicoya and Nosara. Once it reaches the small town of Matambú, in the highlands, its residents start to get off one by one.



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