A Reader’s Response.

Response to Juan Sebastian Campo from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

In an opinion article in the May 11 edition of Qcosta Rica Mr. Juan Sebastian Campos comments that the security forces here are not enough for crime prevention and that we are forced to live behind bars, gates and to fear for our lives. He asks “What are we willing to tolerate to curb crime?”

Among other things he mentions that para military units may be the answer.

But is he aware of what that may bring down on our heads?

The fact is that crime is going down, by about 2%, according to statistics of the Ministry of Justice. But by checking daily news reports we can see for ourselves that yes, the police are apprehending the criminals, the gangs that assault and steal in the streets, the international drug traffickers, and the individuals who use violence against family members or neighbors.
Even the case you site, of the men caught with tons of cocaine, shows that the police and the investigators are doing the job. Although they were allowed free on their own recognition, there are restrictions, just as there are on bonded criminals in the United States. However, the men have recently been sent to prison for six months preventive detention because they live close to the Panamanian border.

Because a suspect is let free does not mean the person will not be tried or jailed. A person here is supposedly innocent until proven guilty, and unless they are caught in the act or the crime is violent or there is a risk of fleeing the country that person is “free on bond”. Supposing that someone puts in a denuncia that you have marijuana plants in your yard would you accept going to jail until your trial?

What is Costa Rica doing to curb crime? At the same time that they are investigating and apprehending criminals, the various ministries are working together and have come up with programs to prevent crime, the targeted population being mainly young people and those in marginal areas. The program Avancemos which pays students to stay in school in effect helps them get better jobs or higher education. Another ‘preventive program’ involves sports and music and cultural activities to keep kids oriented in more wholesome activities and letting them know that they have potential to compete. Notice all the new skateboard parks and soccer activities.

Nos Cuidamos is a police program in the schools about drug prevention and values, including respect for others.
Organized communities help keep crime down. The police are invited into communities to analyze the needs and problems of the area and information and equipment are provided. Whistles, flashlights, sirens and organization do keep crime rates down.

Attention is also given to projects for women in low income areas including in the southern and northern zones, especially focusing on single mothers and teen mothers. Gun turn-ins, even legal registered guns, means less guns available for crime and domestic violence. According to the OIJ half the guns used in crime as registered. They also say that guns are reported lost or stolen every day.

But para-militaries, or militarized police are not the answer to cutting crime. They result in abuse and can lead to further armed conflict. We have seen para militaries in Mexico and Colombia that only widen the conflict and do not eliminate crime, and in the United States SWAT teams have caused so many violations of human rights, including erroneous home invasions and shootings, illegal searches and arrests. Shoot outs between para-militaries and criminals will cause even more panic and blood shed, and stray bullets hitting innocent victims.

Here in Costa Rica anti-riot (anti motines) are used in arresting gangs involved in car thefts, drug dealing and assaults. But several recent cases show that police have overreacted, using tear gas and night sticks against non violent demonstrators. That too, is criminal.

Crime has existed since Cain and Abel and police forces are needed . So are preventive programs and organized communities. But militarized police are not the answer.

Submitted by members of the Women’s Internacional League for Peace and Freedom, Heredia group. Contact us at peacewomen@gmail.com. Responsible: Mitzi Stark, ced. 184000557907.

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5 Responses to "A Reader’s Response."

  1. scott  21 May 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Couldn’t Agree more

  2. B D  21 May 2014 at 4:21 pm

    This IS all about culture. And which way it is heading.

    JSC espouses the rush to gringo culture and the mindset of the “Tican,” half gringo half Tico in cultural values; one foot in the Rio Tarcoles and the other on a banana peel, ready to slip into a vague compilation that no longer smells of volcanoes and playas but rather hints of bad juju.

    “Yes” to “para military is not the answer.”

    “I don’t know what planet she is living on” to criminals caught with vast amounts of drugs being released with only a “sign in” required. This country has been notoriously soft on stealing and white collar crime. That has to stop. Cocaine is ruinous – it ain’t like smoking pot.

    Yes – I agree that the key is cultural. Teaching our children well. We need to realize what we have. Our culture of tolerance is something special and to be valued. Civility and respect are/were the cornerstones or our culture.

    What do we have that no other Central American country has? Our culture. Yes, Our lands are beautiful and yes we have a lot of freedom. But what makes Costa Rica desirable are the Ticos; our grace and charm, our respect and tolerance – and our playfulness and cleverness (sometimes too clever for our own good). Our civility. But civility with freedom. That means no paramilitary, no big mother and big brother. No giant centralized government peering into our lives and limiting our freedom with inhumane fines and needless regulations. No large armed forces to make us fearful if worse comes to worse. We have the gringos for that.

    Years ago Ticos used to ignore unjust or punitive laws. Now we are going the way of gringo culture by cooperating with governmental policies that threaten our freedom. Next thing we will be dividing ourselves by fighting over politics – even when we know that its only a matter of the best of the worse. WE know politicians have to earn our allegiance. Gringos give their allegiance to the government that has not earned it!

    I am sorry for the poor gringos. They have lots of money and little life.

    Tell me what is gringo culture? TV, unrealistic sex lives where women are portrayed as man eaters. Men portrayed on TV as weak and dorky. Comedy movies have reached the height or immaturity and bad taste. Violence? Lust for fame? Material status symbols? More alienation through more electrical devices? Rudeness and immense social isolation. The world police? Yes they are free: free to slave their lives away so they can buy more “things.” and pay more taxes to fund the military industrial complex (the largest concentration of multimillionaires is in the Washington DC area! Does that tell you something?).

    Gringos pay taxes to fund multimillionaires! Do we want to do that? Is that our culture? Create a large armed force that births a military industrial complex. Even a small one is too large.

    Free to watch their men turn into women and their women turn onto men. Is that Tico culture, is that what you want? Free to champion the progressive way to the point that traditionalist who speak of traditional values are scorned and no longer given a voice because if you aren’t down with homosexuality you aint cool? We call those with black skin “negrito” and skinny people “flaco” to their face. I like that level of political INcorrectness in our culture.

    Give me freedom to speak my mind. Isn’t that what the homosexuals want, freedom to be themselves? Why can’t traditionalist have the right to speak their feelings? Hush hush now, the politically correct, the culture police, say you shouldn’t think that – heaven forbid even utter it softly. Dare speak it and you will be banished to an island in the Gulfo de Nicoya!

    What is true freedom? Not owing anyone anything. The culture of the US – and now the direction of Costa Rica, is personal debt and political correctness. Work more to to pay more taxes so we can replace usable infrastructure with NY city style bus benches. By more elctrodomesticos and cell phones. Make the government pot of money larger so there is more to misuse and steal. We owe more taxes so we must work more to be developed like gringolandia! Nauseating.

    I thought Ticos believed the night is for sleeping – and the day for resting. Why sacrifice our civility and leisure lifestyle (the breathing proof that we know what is important) for more things and less children, the scourge of radical feminism.

    I am happy abortion is illegal. Oh but now we also have to shut up when it comes to our values. Then we suffer the “silence is the voice of complicity” syndrome; and they say, “You didn’t speak out against it so you must agree.” Yet, when we voice our opinions against homosexuality and abortion (and not against homosexuals) we are told to do the politically correct thing – be quiet. Just shut up and fly the rainbow flag.

    There are none more so in bondage than those who think they are free – when they are not.

    I hope we don’t go the way of gringo culture, where money is number one and material items rule, guns and hedonism pervasive. Where the police are heavy handed and the government has the troops to crush the population into submission. I prefer fences, razor wire, bars, dogs and small personal arms. I prefer freedom from large armed forces and to fight my own battles, by being prepared for the worse, each on our own, ready one by one. I prefer Tico culture.

    We Ticos know what is important culturally, much more so than the gringos. Family respect, traditional gender roles, motherhood, gallo pinto and cafe con leche. Lets not forget football and church. A Dios Costa Rica.

  3. CB  22 May 2014 at 7:52 am

    He asks “What are we willing to tolerate to curb crime?” A complicated question and I’m not sure our culture is a solution. So far we have been a culture of crime and heavy duty drug cartels. Where do we start?

  4. B D  23 May 2014 at 5:45 am

    Crime is less a part of our culture than most anywhere else. Teaching children values is the solution. Feeding people is the solution, living in a country with financially humane penalties for minor civil offenses is the solution. Education is the solution. Speaking to each other and knowing what goes on in our communities is the solution. The solution is you and me and how we act locally. That is culture, Throwing money at a problem is the gringo solution. You want to solve a problem? Throw time at it and carefulness. Care about your community and you will solve its problems. Be the change you wish to see rather than the gringo way of paying others to make the change you wish to see, That’s pura vida

  5. CB  23 May 2014 at 7:09 am

    “Yes,” it has be difficult to teachthe poor not to heat and commit crime, ut you might have the only long term asnwer. So sad!

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