Public sector workers in Costa Rica were on strike Tuesday and Wednesday, demanding salary increases, higher taxes on the wealthy, and land rights for peasants.
Thousands of teachers, medical workers, and their allies reportedly marched to the national congress building on Tuesday, demonstrating to President Luis Guillermo Solís "that the people are not happy with his administration," said Gilberto Cascante, the president of the ANDE teachers union, one of three major teachers unions joining the strike.
Spanish language news agency EFE reports that protesters carried banners with messages like "Let the rich pay more taxes" and "For the dignity of workers," among others.
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One student told Diario Extra that she was participating in the march in protest of attempts to privatize the Costa Rican National Institute of Education (INA) "because it is the only chance we have to improve ourselves."
According to FOX News Latino:
The strikers are demanding attention to 16 points, including respect for labor rights, defense of the [nation's public healthcare system], defense of the education budget, and opposition to sales and income tax increases, among other things.
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On the list of demands are also salary hikes, land for peasants, for the rich to pay taxes and access to water as a public right.
The organizing unions say that before the government raises the value added tax (VAT), it should "deal with tax dodging," FOX reports, which according to official calculations amounts to about 8 percent of the country's GDP.
Organizers say the strike has impacted 80 percent of the health services and 95 percent of the educational institutions. Meanwhile, the government has pushed back against the workers, announcing Wednesday that it would go to court to have the strike declared illegal.
The actions come days ahead of Día Internacional de los Trabajadores (Labor Day) in Costa Rica, on which the government delivers its annual report to the legislature. Because Costa Rica's Labor Day falls this year on a Sunday, Solís will deliver the report on on Monday, May 2.
Earlier this year, Solís said that following a two-year moratorium on tax increases, it was time to implement austerity measures.