Costa Ricans march against CAFTA

More than 100,000 Costa Ricans marched against the pending Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in the capital, San JosĂ©, Sept. 30, chanting “Costa Rica is not for sale!” Some were dressed as skeletons, or wore masks of President Bush and handed out fake dollar bills, lampooning US trade policies. It was the largest protest in the recent history of Costa Rica, a country of 4 million.

A small contingent of pro-CAFTA counter-demonstrators turned out, and a hired plane pulled a banner across the skyline reading: “Yes to the free-trade accord, for the benefit of the nation!” The drone of the plane’s engine drowned out some of the protest speeches.

Costa Rica is the only country that has not ratified CAFTA—which includes the US, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic—and will be the only nation to decide the issue by referendum. The Oct. 7 referendum has split the nation, with President Oscar Arias saying it would be “collective suicide” for Costa Rica to reject CAFTA. (Reuters, Sept. 30)

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  1. Anti Cafta march was 500,000
    No way the crowd at Sunday´s march was 100,000. Nobody knows how big it really was because demonstrators filled the entire parade route filling the street from one end of San Jose to the other. I was at what was generally accepted as the biggest demonstration in Costa Rican history. That was in 1989 when 500,000 people marched to support Costa Rican peace and neutrality at a time when the U.S. was pressuring Costa Rica to form an army. Sunday´s march, at which I was also present, was definitely bigger.