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Artisans Lost Fight For Call 13 bis, Agree To Relocate

The artisan market on Calle 13 bis, next the Jade Museum, in downtown San Jose

After 22 years of conflict and uncertainty, the artisans of Calle 13 bis, on the west side of the Plaza de la Democracia, in downtown San Jose, will be relocating to the artesans market on the south side of the Parque de la Garantias Sociales (Zapote rotonda).

The agreement (to relocate) came after legislators of the Comisión de Gobierno y Administración closed the file on the bill promoted by the Government to allow the 88 arts & crafts market to continue to occupy the public street that has been converted into market.

Partido Acción Ciudadana (PAC) legislator Franklin Corella explained the agreement followed a process of negotiation with the Municipality of San Jose, representatives of the artisans and Casa Presidencial (Government House), concluding that the best for all was a move.

“They accepted the conditions negotiated with the Municipality of San Jose,” said Corella.

The legislator added that at the last round of negotiation the artisans agreed to a voluntary move.

The Centro Municipal de Comercio Artesanal (Municipal Center For Handicrafts), announced by the city in 2014, will be the new home for the artisans.

San Jose Mayor, Johnny Araya, said the space has been expanded, as well as the size of the modules and a mezzanine added that includes a cafeteria. The mayor added that legislators visiting the municipal center met the concerns of the artisans.

The Conflict

The conflict began in 1995, when the municipality agreed artisans would not be subject to persecution by the municipal authorities who forced vendors off the downtown San Jose streets.

The vendors took over the Calle 13 bis and remained there without hassle until 2007, when a plan was created between the Municipality and the Central Government to relocate them to a new market, which is the same one they are moving to now, at the time still under construction.

In 2007, the administration of Oscar Arias (2206-2010) planned a civic square, which included the use of Calle 13 bis for the construction of a museum next to the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Development.

The artisans saw the plan as an attempt by the Arias administration to evict them, and with the help of legislator, Jose Manuel Echandin, a bill was presented and approved on July 20, 2009, allowing them to remain, in spite of the annoyance of Arias.

On August 5 of that year, Arias vetoed the bill that gave Calle 13 bis to the artisans, declaring their occupation as “inconvenient and unconstitutional.”

Tensions continued during the Laura Chinchilla administration (2010-2014), but the artisans stood their ground. In July 2014, President Luis Guillermo Solis, decided to vacate the Arias veto and revive the 2009 law, to allow the artisans to occupy the public street.

In July 2014, President Luis Guillermo Solis, decided to vacate the Arias veto and revive the 2009 law, to allow the artisans to occupy the public street.

However, legislators of the Partido Liberacion Nacional (PLN) were quick to challenge the Solis decision before the Constitutional Court, which in turn annulled the lifting of the veto, noting that the decision on the part of the goverment to reinstate the law that gave the street to the artisans, was made late.

Despite this, Casa Presidencial insisted on presenting a new bill, which was closed on Wednesday, after being questioned by a report from the legislative Office of Technical Services.

The objections to the new bill became part of the process of negotiation with the artisans, that culminated with the acceptance on part of the artisans to relocate.