QCOSTARICA – David Strecker, aka Cuba Dave, now almost four months behind bars in Costa Rica after his arrest on September 4, will remain there for the holidays.
In a landmark case, Strecker is among the first, if not the very first, to be prosecuted under the Costa Rica law that prohibits promoting sexual tourism.
Prostitution is legal in Costa Rica, procuring or pimping (proxenetismo in Spanish), that is third parties from making money off prostitution, is not.
According to the Strecker’s website, Cubadave.com, “psychologically the situation has been difficult for Dave. Many of the convicts that share the prison with Dave have been released or are looking forward to their release.
The website has been transformed by friends and associates in contact with Strecker, calling for his freedom and gatherin money for his defense. So far, Cubdave supporters have given US$4,225. However, that is not nearly enough required to see Dave through to trial.
In an explanation of the expenditures, Strecker currently has an unpaid invoice from his attorney in the amount of US$1,375, a total of $1,100 is left from previous donations, which makes for a shortfall of $275, and Strecker’s attorneys say that a full trial will cost a minimum of US$5,000 in legal fees.
The website says “Dave is ineligible for release because he is a foreigner, a United States citizen in Costa Rica … Dave says that it’s difficult to be around so many convicts who are excited about Christmas family visits or their release. Dave knows that his eventual release and return to the U.S. and his family are uncertain futures. At 65 years old, it’s difficult to come to terms with his own mortality from behind the walls of a prison in a foreign country.”
In a November court hearing, prosecutors successfully argued that they may have enough evidence to bring Dave to trial.
From the website:
“Telling people about prostitution, particularly in a language other than Spanish, and on the Internet is supposedly against the law.
“Most of the people who are imprisoned with Dave are young men. Normally Costa Rica does not send it’s senior citizens to prison. Even when they are convicted of very serious crimes, some kind of house arrest or sentence reduction is given. Pretrial detention for a senior citizen in Costa Rica is very rare, perhaps nonexistent.
“Over the last three months, his longest trip ever to Costa Rica Dave has received constant support from people who followed him on the Internet. He thanks the supporters who have donated a total of $4,225 to support his legal expenses. Dave himself is of modest means and would only qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), if he were in the United States. However, as SSI is only payable to people who remain in the US, indefinite incarceration in Costa Rica makes Dave ineligible to receive any payments.”
The website states that “it would also be rather embarrassing for the government and judicial authorities to admit that the first and only case brought in a sweeping 2012 law designed to combat human trafficking is a 65 year old man from Key West, Florida, who published Facebook videos about his vacations in Costa Rica.”
Under Costa Rica law, a suspect can be held in ‘preventive detention’ (jail) for up to year while the investigation continues. In complex criminal, the detention can be extended, into years. “That can be a long time when you are 65 years old,” says the website.
According to the website, Costa Rica applies different values to the foreigners. However, that perception is far from the reality.
For example, in 2004 ordered to preventive detention includes two former presidents of Costa Rica, Rafael Angel Calderon Fournier (1990–1994) and Miguel Angel Rodriguez Echavarria (1998-2002), for their involvement in corruption scandals. Both spent time La Reforma prison while the investigation continued.
Another example, a well known case to the Q is that of a lawyer, a Costa Rica national held in preventive detention for almost two years for supected embezzlement.
Foreigners in Costa Rica are seen as a flight risk and unless they can demonstrate strong ties (so that the won’t want to flee) to the country, most likely will be remanded in the event of a criminal investigation against them. Same as would any foreigner in the United States or Canada.