Tico Times | 25 July 2007
Anti-CAFTA Camp Protests Outside Tribunal
By Gillian Gillers
Tico Times Staff | email@example.com
Leaders of the movement against the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA) spoke to about 200 people yesterday outside the Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) in San José.
“They will never silence... the state universities nor the rectors opposed to the ratification of this free-trade treaty,” said Eugenio Trejos, a leader of the anti-CAFTA movement and rector of the Technology Institute of Costa Rica (TEC).
He was referring to a recent resolution by the Supreme Elections Tribunal that limits the ability of public officials - including university officials - to use public resources in CAFTA campaigns as the country prepares for a referendum on the agreement Oct. 7.
Rolando Araya, a former presidential candidate from the National Liberation Party (PLN), also criticized the resolution. “In Latin America, the university is the symbol of the front against dictatorship and oppression,” he said. “It seems a lie, and it is ironic, that the Supreme Elections Tribunal...is violating university autonomy.”
Responding to a request for clarification from the Association of Law Students at the University of Costa Rica (UCR), elections officials ruled July 12 that university officials cannot campaign for or against CAFTA during work hours unless they seek their bosses’ permission.
The Tribunal further said that UCR, as a state organization, can hold only informational — not propagandistic — conferences on CAFTA in its auditoriums.
Dozens of students and staff from the National University in Heredia, north of San José, as well as area high schools, protested the Tribunal’s resolution today in that city, blocking a street outside the campus for about two hours.
Back at the Tribunal, the crowd clapped, cheered, chanted and sang as they held up protest signs and umbrellas for protection from the sun.
Trejos challenged President Oscar Arias to a one-on-one debate. He claimed a powerful ally. “God is with us because God is on the side of the people,” he said.