A nationwide general labor strike is ongoing as of Thursday, September 20, as negotiations between the government and union representatives failed to reach an agreement. The indefinite work stoppage, which began on September 10, has resulted in the disruption of a wide array of public sector services, including hospitals, schools, and government services as activists and government employees protest a proposed tax reform bill. Negotiations began on Wednesday, September 19, and were mediated by the Catholic church, but did not yield any agreements or a possible end to the strike.
Further protests and related strike activities (e.g. roadblocks, vehicle caravans, and protest marches) are possible in San José, Limón, Puntarenas, and other parts of the country in the coming days. A heightened security presence and transportation disruptions are expected near protest sites. Fuel shortages and disruptions of health services are possible. Clashes between security forces and protesters 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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