May 11 2013

Democracy in Action

"Besides being a land of poets, we are people who fight. San Ramon says no to the grant. If this is the fight, the future is ours."

We got to see a good example of the people speaking and the president listening here in Costa Rica recently. Residents were upset over the government’s plans to go ahead with a concession to improve the PanAmerican Highway (Rt. 1). The Brazilian company, who had won the concession, planned to pay for the road improvements by charging a 2,000-colon toll each way along the route San José to San Ramón. This toll would increase the expense of commuting by an additional $8.00 each day for drivers and would most likely increase fares for those traveling by bus.

"What you charge me for the toll was for my food"

The people let their views be known, with manifestaciones (demonstrations) all along the San Jose to San Ramon corridor, especially in our town of San Ramon. On April 23rd, A.M. Costa Rica reported that “President Laura Chinchilla said Monday night that she was terminating the concession with the contractor who was supposed to build a modern highway to San Ramón. The president said she was doing this to guarantee the social peace of the country. ‘I recognize that in the current environment it is not possible nor convenient to carry forward a project that has received the rejection of diverse sections of the population, among them communities, social organizations and even business chambers,” said the president.’

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You can read the AM Costa Rica article, entitled “President says she is dumping road concession to preserve peace” at this link:

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