Drug violence threatens Costa Rica

In Siquirres, Costa Rica, three students were hospitalized after being shot with a 9mm pistol used by a hitman in a drug trafficking rivalry. This incident, occurring in broad daylight at a school, reflects a concerning trend of violence in the country. The rise in violent deaths, reaching a peak of 907 murders in 2023, indicates the gravity of the situation.

The spread of drug trafficking groups has transformed Costa Rica, once known for its safety, into a battleground. Despite efforts by authorities, including the identification of numerous criminal organizations and hitmen, the violence persists. Minister of Security Mario Zamora acknowledges the challenge, admitting that local criminal groups have overwhelmed law enforcement.

While the government has proposed legal reforms and increased measures to combat crime, including tougher laws and extradition for suspects, challenges remain. Opposition parties advocate for preventive detention and other measures, but concerns over constitutional limits and effectiveness persist.

Additionally, suspicions about the origin of foreign currencies flooding the economy raise concerns about potential money laundering. Despite government claims of economic success, the appreciation of the local currency negatively affects industries reliant on exports.

Costa Rica faces a critical juncture as it grapples with escalating violence, economic instability, and challenges to its democratic institutions. The country’s preparedness to combat these issues is questioned, with comparisons drawn to neighboring countries facing similar security threats.

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