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Bishops of Costa Rica caution against “all outbreaks of violence” in marches against trade agreement

.- The Bishops of Costa Rica called on those involved in protests yesterday and today against the signing of the Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Central America and the Dominican Republic to carry out their protests peacefully.

“We are issuing a call, both to authorities and to protestors, to avoid all outbreaks of violence and, in absolute respect of the public order, to make every effort to carry out these demonstrations through peaceful means,” the bishops said in a statement.

They called on Costa Ricans to be an example before the world by “banishing the possibility of all violent confrontation and favoring the overcoming of differences by preserving peace.”  Peace in society, they added, demands “calm analysis” carried out with respect for all interested parties.

While the bishops acknowledged that everyone has the right to publicly protest and that the State should guarantee the free exercise of civil and political rights, “the healthy exercise of our rights and freedoms as citizens obliges us to consider that limits do exist, that is, my freedoms do not extend beyond the point of infringing upon the rights of others,” the bishops emphasized.
 
“We believe the resolution of conflicts through confrontation is not characteristic of Costa Ricans,” they added.

Union leaders recently announced they would organize protests this week against the signing of the Free Trade Agreement.  While they pledged protests would be non-violent, they did not rule out the possibility of blocking traffic.  Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez responded saying he would not allow the flow of transit to be interrupted.

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