Saturday 18 September 2021

Murders on the rise in Costa Rica: 60 homicides in the last 28 days

Unemployment and rising poverty have an impact on crime in the country. The trend is increasing, based on statistics and the lack of a clear criminal policy.

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QCOSTARICA – In the last 28 days, there have been 60 homicides, pushing the number of murders for the year to 438, according to the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ).

Police statistics show how there is an increasing trend compared to the number of homicides reported in 2019.

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For example, as of September 17, the numbers indicated that there 18 fewer homicides this year over the same period last year: 378 in 2020 against 396 last year.

But that decrease was temporary. As of October 15, 28 days later, the number shot up 438, 10 more than the 428 for the same period last year.

Worldwide, the level of violence is compared to a homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants. The challenge for 2020, according to the Minister of Security, Michael Soto, is for the country to have a lower figure than the 560 cases for 2019.

If it is achieved, the country would have the third consecutive year with homicides down.

However, that may be difficult given that the last months of the year are usually quite violent and impossible if the trend of the last 28 days continues unabated.

Economic crisis and COVID

In the first months of the year, with the health measures for the COVI-19 pandemic, authorities estimated a reduction in the number of homicides. However, the number of deaths has followed a trend similar to that of 2019.

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Now, with high percentages of unemployment and poverty on the rise throughout the country, experts say we can expect crime to increase.

Álvaro Gónzalez, head of the OIJ in Limón, explained that there are a series of elements that -together- would cause a negative repercussion.

“It seems that the country is going on that route in the face of the unemployment rate, an increasingly wide social gap, an unstable educational system, as well as the lack of values ​​and principles.

“Obviously they have an impact on crime in this country. The trend is increasing, based on statistics and the lack of a clear criminal policy, lack of political will to eradicate crime … this would generate a regrettable increase in crime in our country,” said Gonzalez.

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Similarly, weeks ago, analyst Gerardo Castaing explained that although property crimes such as assaults and robberies have dropped – because many people are staying at home – the situation is very different with drug trafficking, which circumvents the measures and continues to kill.

“It would be serious if the drug traffickers could enter a stage of domination… and due to the economic problems, the country could be greatly affected… there will be a lack of income, frustration, unemployment and it will make people feel obliged to obtain money, even illegal means, so I think crime will increase in terms of property crimes and drug trafficking,” the analyst commented.

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