Protests in Costa Rica against the IMF and the increase in taxes

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Protesters maintain blockades at about 45 road points in Costa Rica, as a protest against an eventual government agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for 1.75 billion dollars, despite the fact that President Carlos Alvarado announced the withdrawal of that initiative and called for a national dialogue.

According to data provided by the Government, this Monday about 2,000 people participate in the 45 locks They were located mainly in rural areas of the north, south and the Caribbean of the country, and there have been no acts of violence in the last hours.

In the capital, a group of protesters They protested in front of the Ministry of Finance and another made a caravan of vehicles through the main streets of the city.

Definitive requirements

The call “National Rescue Movement”, which originally called for the protests, sent a letter to President Alvarado through the Archbishop of San José, José Rafael Quirós, with his conditions to open a dialogue table and whose content the leaders did not want to reveal to the press.

What this movement has announced is that the protests that are now six days old will continue until Alvarado signs a document in which he commits to never go to the IMF.

“We must prepare ourselves because the fight continues. Costa Rica belongs to all of us, our fight is for the poor people. We are a peace movement that seeks to claim rights, “said former deputy and former presidential candidate José Miguel Corrales, one of the leaders of the National Rescue Movement.

They call for dialogue

Sunday the President Carlos Alvarado, aired a national television channel in which he announced the withdrawal of the proposal to negotiate with the IMF and called on various sectors to engage in a national dialogue to seek solutions to economic problems.

The proposal was presented by Alvarado to the public opinion on September 17 in order to open a internal discussion before handing it over to the IMF.

However, the political opposition, trade unions and businessmen immediately rejected the initiative as it was based mostly on a tax increase, less than two years after the approval of a controversial tax reform that in 2018 caused an extensive union strike.

The Minister of the Presidency, Marcelo Prieto, insisted on the need to open dialogue and for the protesters to lift the blockades that affect tourism, production, trade and the mobilization of people at a time when the country tries to reactivate its economy in the middle of COVID-19 pandemic.

“There has been a will for dialogue. The impact on third parties is not justified, especially those small entrepreneurs, farmers and the general public who are working to revive the economy”, dijo.

Stop budget cuts

The protests have been joined by other social and union groups, demanding that the Government stop initiatives to cut spending related to the public employment and that they have announced a demonstration in the capital for Tuesday.

The General Secretary of the National Association of Public Employees (ANEP), Albino Vargas, called President Alvarado a “political con man” and that for this reason it is necessary that you sign a document in which you express your definitive resignation to going to the IMF.

According to this leader, Costa Rica does not need to seek funds, since it can take them from international reserves of the Central Bank, which add up to about 8,000 million dollars.

Total rejection of the IMF

The negotiation proposal With the IMF that promoted the Government, it became unviable from the beginning when several political parties expressed their rejection, but it was not until Sunday, after official statements from the main congressional banks and after 5 days of roadblocks, that President Alvarado gave up.

80% of the proposal for access funds The IMF was based on taxes. It created a tax on bank transactions and global income, and also increased that of income and real estate.

The remaining 20% ​​corresponded to cuts in public spending through the merger of institutions and the sale of two assets: the National Liquor Factory and the International Bank of Costa Rica.

This initiative appeared less than two years after Congress approved a controversial tax reform And at a time when the country’s economy has deteriorated even more with the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Official projections indicate that this country will close 2020 with a fiscal deficit of 9% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), an accumulated debt of 70% of the GDP and a fall of 5% of its economy.

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