News Brownout of Costa Rica Protest
San Jose, Nov 7 2006 (Prensa Latina) — The Costa Rican government ordered an information brownout and disinformation campaign against the mobilizations in that country protesting the free trade agreement with the US, denounced Deputy Jose Merino in a news release Tuesday.
The legislator for the opposition Frente Amplio Party explained that the maneuver consisted of intimidating the population before the "First Great Struggle against the Free Trade Agreement" October 23-24, and in forcing media workers to violate professional ethics.
At two meetings in early October representatives of the Costa Rican Executive reduced the call by the Struggle against the FTA Coordinating Committee to a simple union protest.
When that did not prove effective, the officials tried to minimize citizen participation.
The day before the protest, which was attended by thousands of people, Ministers Rodrigo Arias (Presidency) and Fernando Berrocal (Public Security) met with directors of the major news media.
The officials said they wanted to "coordinate and unify the line" to take on the protest, and alleged "violence and subversive purposes by the organizers," Merino said.
During and after the protest, the media gave play to the few incidents, which according to participants and organizers were caused by agent provocateurs to discredit the movement and its importance.
Merino recognized the "honorable exceptions" of press that did not submit to the government s dictates and reported the farmers, teachers, students, intellectuals, union members, public employees and environmental activists who reject the bilateral accord negotiated with Washington in January 2004.