On May 7 the management of the Limón and Moín ports on Costa Rica’s Atlantic coast signed an agreement with the de facto leadership of the dockworkers union to distribute $137 million among 1,400 workers as compensation for the privatization of the ports. The agreement ends a nearly four-year struggle against the government’s plan to sell off the Board of Port Administration and Economic Development of the Atlantic Shelf (JAPDEVA), which manages the two ports. In January the leftist leadership of the JAPDEVA Workers Union (SINTRAJAP) was replaced in what the union leaders called a “coup d’état,” paving the way for the privatization agreement. Negotiating the accord was the last act of Álvaro González, labor minister in the administration of former president Oscar Arias, whose term ended on May 8; he was succeeded by President Laura Chinchilla Miranda, a member of Arias’ National Liberation Party (PLN). (La Nación, Costa Rica, May 11)
Some of the former SINTRAJAP leaders were among the 28 people arrested during an April 29 demonstration in Limón and Moín in which seven trucks were set on fire, three police agents received gunshot wounds, and many people were beaten or affected by tear gas. The protest was part of a national day of demonstrations against the Arias government’s labor policies. Albino Vargas, general secretary of the National Association of Public and Private Employees (ANEP), noted that there had been no problems anywhere in the country except, “curiously,” in Limón. The ANEP website blamed the violence on infiltrators and suggested that the goal was “to provoke panic, imprisonments and death” to create a situation where the privatization would be accepted. (La Nación, April 29; El País, Costa Rica, April 30)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 16.