Costa Rica’s reputation as a peaceful and ‘pura vida’ nation is on the line. Drug traffic and homicides are now making the headlines in national and international newspapers. The New York Post recently mentioned that the country is “besieged by drug killings thanks to its increasing role in the warehousing and shipping of cocaine.”
“The Central American country logged 657 homicides in 2022 — the highest number of killings recorded there since at least 1990,” the U.S. media outlet highlighted.
Sadly, data shows that for the past 15 years, drug trafficking and the problems that come along with it have been on the rise.
In 2022, “authorities found that 65 to 80% of the local murders were believed to be ‘score settling’ for grievances tied to the drug market,” noted the New York Post.
Limon has been suffering the consequences of this illegal activity. Last year, its murder rate was “five times higher than the rest of the country.”
As explained by the newspaper, drug cartels have been paying fishermen in exchange for gasoline. They do not use money; instead, they pay in cocaine. Given the drug’s value in international markets, fishermen have been exporting it. The product is stuffed and transported in products such as pineapple or yuca.
Disputes between gangs dedicated to this illegal activity have caused a soar in homicides. Randall Zúñiga, director of Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Department, indicated that these bands often clash and “generally the people who die are sellers or members of the criminal groups.”
“Costa Rica’s murder rate is now 12.6 per 100,000 residents — about twice as violent as the U.S. rate but a third of the rate in Honduras, which is due north of bordering Nicaragua, according to U.N. statistics,” the article warned.
The government promised a new security strategy would be presented in the upcoming months. Nonetheless, time is ticking, and Costa Ricans desperately need actions that will give them back their country.