This year has marked an unprecedented surge in violence for Costa Rica. Within just nine months, Costa Rica surpassed the total number of homicides reported in 2022. Currently, 2023 is shaping up to be the deadliest year in the nation’s history.
“As of yesterday, our homicide count was at 654, equaling last year’s total. By today, we’ve already recorded 656. The consistent uptick in homicides is approaching a critical juncture. It’s imperative we take every necessary step to address this,” stated Randall Zúñiga, director of the OIJ.
Without a doubt, the problem is severe, especially when compared to figures from previous years. Last year there was a homicide rate of 12.6 per 100,000 inhabitants. Meanwhile, this year, authorities have confirmed an 11% increase when compared to the total number of homicides in 2021, which totaled 588.
Randall Zúñiga stated that, unfortunately, it is very likely that this year will end with 900 homicides, but given the current statistics, this number could be even greater.
Security experts believe that the problems are very clear. Drug trafficking, kidnappings, “drop-by-drop” (shark loans) loans, and unemployment are some of the factors that are taking a heavy toll on the country.
These factors have also contributed to the increase in deaths on the coasts of Limón, Puntarenas, and now in Guanacaste. For years, previous administrations have neglected these regions and have failed to develop policies and programs to bring progress to their inhabitants.
Criminals have found a perfect scenario, as they can lure young and unemployed people with lucrative rewards.
Gustavo Mata, former Minister of Security, and Gerardo Castaing, former director of the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ) and criminologist, pointed out that the country is falling into the hands of criminal groups linked to drug trafficking.
In addition, Álvaro Ramos, a security expert, noted that this situation reflects that the country has lost all capacity to contain its most dangerous criminals.
“It reveals that the culture of violence and criminal terrorism has taken over the entire national territory, and in particular some areas where the criminals’ law might be prevailing over that of the State,” he commented.
Meanwhile, Gerardo Castaing believes that there is a human and social deterioration in Costa Rica, along with an exaggerated consumption of drugs.