LifestyleCosta Rica battles surging crime rates with controversial Salvadoran-style measures

Costa Rica battles surging crime rates with controversial Salvadoran-style measures

Costa Rica must deal with the crime problem.
Costa Rica must deal with the crime problem.
Images source: © Adobe Stock

9:32 AM EST, January 25, 2024

This tropical paradise is contending with a significant spike in brutal crime. According to Reuters, President Rodrigo Chaves Robles seeks to tackle the issue through methods reminiscent of those in El Salvador.

Significant Problem in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has joined the list of Latin American countries attempting to stall the expansion of drug cartels. To achieve this, the authorities are contemplating a crime-fighting strategy similar to that of El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele. However, this approach has drawn consistent criticism from human rights advocates.

The murder rate in Costa Rica has escalated from 11.7 to 17.2 per 100,000 residents when comparing data from 2018 and 2023. This increase is primarily linked to conflicts among drug gangs. In El Salvador, which held the world's highest murder rate just a decade ago at about 60 per 100,000, it has now dwindled to 2.4.

Battling Crime

"Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures," argued Costa Rica's president as he presented his national security plan in November 2023. Rodrigo Chaves proposed stringent laws to fight crime, including extending the maximum prison sentences for juvenile offenders to 50 years, allowing extradition, and simplifying the process of detaining suspects in custody.

Reuters points out that Chaves's "iron-fist" bill has been stalled in Congress. To secure its passage, he needs the support of at least 29 of 57 deputies, while his party only holds nine seats. However, in the past, his bills were enacted thanks to the votes of other conservative groups.

Some lawmakers firmly oppose the president's proposal. "We live in a democracy. We are not El Salvador or any of the countries where human rights are breached," commented opposition MP Gloria Navas, who presides over the parliamentary committee on security and drug trafficking.

Laura Chinchilla, the former president of Costa Rica who ruled from 2010-2014, stated her administration curbed crime by providing social benefits, preventing the impoverished from resorting to unlawful actions. "I don't think we need to adopt the aggressive models of other countries. Since we've been effectively maintaining peace all these years, we should continue to do so," she told Reuters.

San Jose is considered the most dangerous city in Costa Rica.
San Jose is considered the most dangerous city in Costa Rica.© Adobe Stock | Dennis A. González Salas | @Saintdags ALL RIGHT RESERVED

Source: Reuters/PAP/MFA

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