A nationwide indefinite strike is ongoing in Costa Rica as of Monday, September 17. Thousands of public sector workers began a strike on Monday, September 10, leading to a shutdown in government services, including schools, hospitals, and government services. Fuel shortages, caused by strikers blockading petroleum refinery facilities, have been reported at gas stations across San José as of Sunday, September 16. While at least one union has agreed to Catholic Church-mediated negotiations with the Costa Rican government, other union leaders have called for an intensification of the strike.
Further protests and related strike activities (e.g. roadblocks) are possible in San José and elsewhere in the country (particularly in Limón [Limón province]) in the coming days and may prompt increasingly serious fuel shortages. A heightened security presence and localized traffic disruptions are to be expected near protest sites. Clashes between striking protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
Costa Rica is experiencing its largest financial crisis in 40 years as deficits are set to rise to 7 percent of its GDP. President Carlos Alvarado, who came into office in April 2018, is attempting to pass a fiscal reform package through the Legislative Assembly that would replace a sales tax with a value-added tax to all services and eliminate tax exemptions, including on foodstuffs.
Individuals in Costa Rica, particularly those in San José and in Limón, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, anticipate disruptions to transportation and government services, including hospitals, health clinics, and schools, avoid large public gatherings as a precaution, and never cross a roadblock without permission. Expect fuel shortages in areas most acutely affected by the strike and related protests.
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