‘I have to follow them, I am their leader.’

A quote attributed to Ledru-Rollin, opponent of Louis-Philippe, King of the French, and whose inflammatory speeches at workmen’s gatherings were influential in bringing about the overthrow of the latter in the Revolution of 1848.

Supposed to have been said as he saw a mob passing in the street during the unrest in Paris, thus inducing him to climb out through the window to join them…’Il faut bien que je les suive, puisque je suis leur chef.’ An early example of false news, as it was related by an opponent when Ledru-Rollin was in exile in England – ironically, as he had published a book ‘De la Decadence de l’Angleterre’ – and could not easily respond to the mockery.

Needless to say, once in power he crushed the hopes of the working class..les bourgeois c’est comme des cochons…..and became a peripheral figure, distrusted by all sectors of political opinion.

We have about any number of would-be Ledru-Rollins in Costa Rica at the moment, anxious to

A…harness to their chariots the popular protests at government proposals to seek a loan from the IMF and the fiscal consequences of same

or

B…crush said protests by pretending to lead them.

In brief, the Costa Rican economy has been a basket case for years. Whereas in Ledru-Rollin’s France one hundred families were said to run the country, here some thirty families do likewise and the result has been tax evasion on the grand scale, failure to develop the country’s natural resources, and clientism on a scale undreamt of by the Roman Empire.

Like France, the country is controlled by an unholy troika of big business, the public sector unions and the government, sucking on the teat of the tax payer and producing solely excrement.

The last president tried to reform public finances but was stymied at every turn by the National Assembly and was eventually ambushed by the cement monopoly, setting up a fake supplier of Chinese cement whose products were granted priority in import by the President, only to be revealed – by the monopolists – as a scam, which brought his period in office to an insalubrious close.

The current incumbent, coming to office on the promises of his party, promptly set up a ministry of all the lack of talents from his own and other parties in what was said to be a government of national unity…more like a government to guard the interests of the troika.

It has finally dawned on the government that its expenses exceed its income…mostly because the various lockdowns have managed to close any number of the small businesses whose tax payments covered the bloated public sector..the clientism referred to above. Since the 1970s, the public sector was used as a means of gaining votes…the more posts, the more perks, the more votes for the incumbent governments. The public sector unions will not give up these perks willingly, neither will a government, established as it is, force them to do so.

The protests began when the President announced that he was seeking a loan from the IMF, and, in order to pay it back, he was proposing further tax measures.

Well, people have had enough of ‘further tax measures’ recently…the imposition of Value Added Tax, for example…..so this was not a popular measure…less so when it was revealed that in addition to the local property tax, the double of that tax would have to be paid directly to Hacienda – the Treasury.

Imagine, it…three times your property tax. And, unlike local government, Hacienda can confiscate your property for non payment.

And then it was discovered that Hacienda was uprating the value of properties…..

Spontaneously, people began to block the major roads – the traditional form of protest from the ground up.

Immediately failed politicians moved in to become the self proclaimed leaders of the movement….some only to denounce it as being fuelled by the drug mafia…the same mafia effectively tolerated by the government. Others pushed for links with the unions – another mafia – while the government ordered in the police with tear gas to disperse the protesters

After weeks of blockades and confontation the government agreed to hold talks…but with whom?

With the troika, of course…..

But there must have been representation from the people?

Of course there was.

In one area a Vice President assumed the voice of the people…in another, the First Lady….

Current democracy in action.