San José, Costa Rica: Reportback from a student demo on October 9th

In October 2012, San José (capital of Costa Rica) saw a large student demonstration against a veto that the country’s president Laura Chinchilla Miranda put on the law amendment which suggested the free use of copyrighted material or intellectual property for nonprofit educational purposes. In other words, she recently blocked the decision of the Congress to remove the provisions which establish that the reproduction of copyrighted material may be punishable under any and all circumstances. However, all those who oppose the ‘Photocopying Law’ (Ley de Fotocopiado) do not share the same motivations. Apart from university students who support the free access to information and knowledge without having to pay large sums of money to local or foreign publishers, also photocopy shop owners have had an active presence in such protests, who are only interested in maintaining their profits.

Here’s a reportback from the demo:

On Tuesday, October 9th, during the students’ protest march in downtown San José, some peculiar events took place. Tired of the absurd, useless and boring character of rigid demonstrations, a group of university students decided to break with normality and let creativity flow. They climbed up the walls of the Legislative Assembly (or Congress), which was enough for the demo’s organizers to oppose and harass them. Note that these organizers are nothing but businesspeople—something totally illogical to us—and they did what is perfectly common for the fascist right, namely they urged the other demonstrators to abandon the comrades who were at the Legislative Assembly at the time.

Surprisingly enough, many of the demonstrators stayed put and supported the comrades’ action. Soon thereafter, nearly twenty anti-riot cops were lined up in front of the building, when their shields and batons started to dance on our bodies. Following the squadron’s assault, a paving stone flew, then a thousand paving stones managed to fly, and we realized that we’re capable of throwing the cops out of our protest space just by doing what many people have been wishing to do for a long time.

Given the whole fuss about the incident, the bourgeois media went wild trying to criminalize the movement; but nothing less can be expected from them.

Whilst this was taking place, our comrade Jean Carlo Espinoza was captured, beaten and imprisoned by the dogs of Power. As far as legal defense was concerned, we responded with a habeas corpus claim and an appeal on the grounds of unconstitutionality. Luckily, there was a lawyer among us who took the case immediately. The comrade spent four long days of torture and intimidation, locked up in a basement of the injustice court, until he was finally released on the condition of signing up on a daily basis at the courthouse.

Nonetheless, police repression was only just getting started. Several comrades were threatened with prosecution for supporting the act of climbing up the Legislative Assembly’s entrance. Yet another very serious and concerning event took place on Friday, October 12th: when leaving a bar close to the University of Costa Rica, in San Pedro, a comrade was blocked by a black van, from where three absolutely unknown people got out and brutally beat him up without any kind of warning or prior cause for this to happen. Then they just got into the van and left. Other mates have received weird calls at their homes. We fear a witch-hunt is underway, and we must be ready for what is to come.

These police persecutions and harassments will not stop us, and we have decided to keep on the struggle, with or without repression. This does not mean that we do not care for our physical and mental integrity. Our short experience on such actions makes us more vulnerable, and this is the reason for this letter.

Solidarity greetings from Costa Rica

As long as one single prisoner exists in the world, no one is free! Let prisoners out onto the streets!

They can beat and lock up our bodies, but they cannot exterminate our desire for freedom (A)