Nationwide Protests Target Ground Transportation Thoroughfares Across Costa Rica

Nationwide Protests Target Ground Transportation Thoroughfares Across Costa Rica

Since September 30, protesters have demonstrated across Costa Rica, targeting major ground transportation thoroughfares and stranding shipments of all types across the country. The protests are attributable to negotiations between President Carlos Alvarado and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that began in July and involve potential austerity measures to offset an anticipated 2020 budget deficit in excess of 9.7 percent of GDP. The loan could have ranged in approximate value from USD 1.75 to USD 2.25 billion and would likely involve 3 years of taxation and spending cuts and associated austerity measures. As negotiations progressed, a popular opposition led by former Costa Rican politicians formed, eventually resorting to active protests targeting commercial thoroughfares as a means of negotiating with the national government to reduce or eliminate austerity measures.

Beginning on September 30, a group of protesters have been mobilized by various supportive unions and the informal leadership of an organization called the National Rescue Movement. Total participation has been estimated to be in the range of approximately 2,000 to 2,500 participants. Protesters are targeting key commercial thoroughfares including port areas, major highways, and roads in front of key industrial sites, as detailed in the non-exhaustive list of known blockade points recorded by Everstream Analytics intelligence analysts (see table below). 

On October 3, President Carlos Alvarado announced the withdrawal of his proposal to the IMF and called for protesters to clear roads. However, the National Rescue Movement denounced violent blockade interventions by security forces and reiterated their intent to continue on October 4, seeking to exert continued pressure and secure commitments not to pursue austerity measures. On the same day, the Paso Canoas border crossing point reopened for traffic; as a testament to the magnitude of the disruption, approximately 800 vehicles were stranded on either side of the border crossing at the time of reopening. 

However, over time, the quantity of roadblock points recorded have increased, significantly increasing the probability of disruption for shipments in every industry. Disruption extends to medical supply transporters, as reports indicate that a public cargo transportation vehicle with oxygen cylinders for COVID-19 patients has also been blocked. Domestically, sources estimated on October 4 that the Costa Rican agricultural sector experienced losses of USD 37 million over the previous 48 hours due to cargo stranded in traffic. On October 6, sources reported that a record high of 95 blockades were active, including 57 total closure points and 38 closure points that allowed intermittent passage (see chart below).

Number of blockade points recorded in the past week. Source: Everstream Analytics

In turn, disruptions to port operations have been reported. One source noted on October 6 that perishable items such as pineapples and bananas were stranded on vessels in the Caribbean because they were unable to access the Moin Container Terminal in Limon, Costa Rica. Cargo security has also come under threat as authorities struggle to maintain order and discourage unrest. Reports indicate that journalists have been discouraged by protesters from documenting vandalism and damages, but that an unspecified number of attacks have taken place against cargo vehicles amongst other targets, particularly in Puntarenas and Limon provinces. 

On October 7, sources indicated an escalation of fuel disruptions, extortion, and violent confrontations between protesters and police, including the use of Molotov cocktails by protesters. Stranded cargo may be under enhanced risk for theft or vandalism, and social media sources have documented burning vehicles in the areas of Limon and Sarapiqui. Additionally, sources reported “toll” extortions from roadblock operators and vandalism against vehicle operators who refused to pay. At the same time, reports of fuel shortages are beginning to emerge, notably in San Carlos, Saraquipi, and more broadly in the North and South Zones. 

Looking forward, blockades are likely to continue as the National Rescue Movement solidifies its influence and positions to negotiate. On October 6, the organization articulated 15 preconditions for the lifting of blockades including the abandonment of any proposal with the IMF, sale activity of state assets, or tax increases. Media reports suggested that negotiations between the National Rescue Movement and the government were scheduled to begin on October 7. 

Supply chain managers should anticipate severe disruption to ground cargo movements along with significant delays at Costa Rican ports until an agreement between the National Rescue Movement and the Costa Rican government is reached that ends blockade activity. Until that point, transshipments through the country should be avoided wherever possible. 

AreaDate Reported
Ruta 1: Guanacaste, Cañas River BridgeOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 2: Kilometer 136, Loma Verde SectorOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 2: Kilometer 164, Longo, after the convent to Buenos AiresOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 2: Kilometer 191, El Ceibo River BridgeOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 2: Kilometer 196, Buenos Aires in front of PindecoOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 2: Kilometer 221, Paso Real, entrance to San VitoOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 2: Kilometer 350, Panamanian Customs CanoasOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 3: Heredia, 100 meters North of the Universidad HispanoamericanaOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 4: Puente de Río Frío, in GuatusoOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 4: Monterrey, Arenal RiverOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 4: Kooper Turn, AltamiraOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 4: Kilometer 37, in front of Chilamate school, in SarapiquíOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 6: Upala Canalte, Higuerón River BridgeOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 6: Upala gutter, Zapote River metal bridgeOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 21: Santa Cruz BridgeOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 21: Guard, Tempisque BridgeOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 34: Quepos BridgeOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 35: Terron Colorado October 7, 2020
Ruta 35: Dock Crossing, 600 South Of the ColonusOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 36: Limon Biscay, Banana River to SixaolaOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 36: Hone Creek LimonOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 126: Crossing with Ruta 140, in San Miguel de Río CuartoOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 118: Sarchí River BridgeOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 118: Tacares of Grecia. Ingenio BridgeOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 140: Termales del BosqueOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 140: Entrance to Toro AmarilloOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 140: Aguas Zarcas River BridgeOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 141: Zarcero – NaranjoOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 141: Zarcero – Health UnitOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 141: San Carlos, Cruce de JavillosOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 142: Tilarán, crossing of AguilaresOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 244: Pérez Zeledón, PejibayeOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 245: Puerto Jiménez, Rincón River BridgeOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 247: Guácimo, Bridge of the Tortuguero RiverOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 249: Guápiles, Ticabán- La TeresaOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 702: Lower Rodriguez, in front of soda La NegritaOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 702: San Lorenzo River BridgeOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 702: Peñas Blancas River BridgeOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 702: San Lorenzo, in front of Tierras EnamoradasOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 708: Colonia, Departure to Rio CuartoOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 805: Siquirres, Caño Blanco, El CocalOctober 7, 2020
Cantonals: Fortuna, Monterrey Hotel SpringsOctober 7, 2020
Ruta 2October 6, 2020
Ruta 4October 6, 2020
Ruta 32October 6, 2020
Ruta 34October 6, 2020
Ruta 35October 6, 2020
Ruta 36October 6, 2020
Ruta 126October 6, 2020
Ruta 140October 6, 2020
Ruta 141October 6, 2020
Ruta 160October 6, 2020
Ruta 702October 6, 2020
Ruta 708October 6, 2020
NaranjoOctober 5, 2020
San Ramón (Aserradero)October 5, 2020
Grecia (Fanal Factory)October 5, 2020
San Rafael (Panasonic)October 5, 2020
Dominical Bridge (Barú)October 5, 2020
Ceibo (Buenos Aires)October 5, 2020
Paso Canoas (customs sector)October 5, 2020
Cariari (Barrio la Sole)October 5, 2020
León CortésOctober 5, 2020
Loma Verde (Pérez Zeledón)October 5, 2020
Cedral junction (Ciudad Quesada)October 5, 2020
Ruta 32 (Chirripó River)October 5, 2020
Siquirres (Cocal)October 5, 2020
ChilamateOctober 5, 2020
Cariari (Tortuguero Bridge)October 5, 2020
Siquirres (Cocal)October 5, 2020
Altamira Crossing (Aguas Zarcas)October 5, 2020
Ruta 31October 4, 2020
Ruta 1 (Interamericana Norte)October 4, 2020
Ruta 2 (Interamericana Sur)October 4, 2020
The CostaneraOctober 4, 2020
Ruta 27October 4, 2020
Florencio del Castillo roads (San Jose – Cartago) October 4, 2020
Ruta 32 (San Jose – Limon)October 2, 2020
Port of CalderaOctober 2, 2020
Fuente de la Hispanidad, San JoseOctober 2, 2020
Ruta 27October 2, 2020
Port of CalderaOctober 2, 2020
Port of MoinOctober 2, 2020
Penas Blancas (border crossing)October 2, 2020
Paso Canoas (border crossing)October 2, 2020
Ruta 27October 1, 2020
Ruta 32October 1, 2020
Fuente de la Hispanidad, San JoseOctober 1, 2020
Ruta 1 (Interamericana Norte)October 1, 2020
Ruta 2 (Interamericana Sur)October 1, 2020
Known blockade points. Source: Everstream Analytics

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