Three Police Wounded, Trucks Torched, in Costa Rica Protests

SAN JOSE – Nationwide protests by labor unions and social movements left a tally of three police wounded, seven trucks burned and 20 demonstrators arrested, Costa Rica’s security minister said.

Three police were wounded, two from gunshots, when they were “ambushed” while trying to clear a barricaded road in the Caribbean province of Limon, Janina Del Vecchio told reporters.

Twenty people, including municipal employees and former port union members, were arrested in the Caribbean city of Limon, the minister said.

One of the wounded police, identified as Olman Salazar Arce, 53, was hit by a gunshot that pierced his femoral artery and is reportedly in “serious” condition, while a second police was in stable condition after being shot and the other officer suffered unspecified injuries.

Local television footage showed seven trucks had been burned near the Limon ports by a group of unidentified assailants who also attacked drivers of cargo vehicles.

The issues driving Thursday’s nationwide protests include opposition to a new law permitting privatization of services that have been the exclusive preserve of municipal governments.

Former port unionists opposed to a plan that could lead to a private company being contracted to modernize and run the ports also joined in the protests, the local press reported.

The day of protests included demonstrations by teachers, unregulated taxi drivers, environmentalists and members of other social movements and labor unions with various demands.

Teachers marched in San Jose against a bill that would create a unified pay scale for public servants, a measure they fear would cost them hard-won gains such as their annual Christmas bonus.

But Planning Minister Roberto Gallardo said the bill will be submitted to public employee unions for their approval before the text is formally presented in congress.

Another protest unfolded on the main thoroughfares of San Jose, where unregulated cabbies known as “porters” slowed traffic to a crawl to express opposition to a bill that would impose what the drivers see as unfavorable regulation on their activity. EFE

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