Homicides in 2019 decreased in almost the entire country, including in Limón, except in the provinces of Puntarenas and Guanacaste, where they increased.
2019 closed with 560 murders nationwide, 25 less than in 2018, when there were 585.
However, that was not the case in Puntarenas and Guanacaste, where each province recorded a higher number of murders over the previous year.
Puntarenas had 75 homicides in 2019, 18 more than in 2018; while Guanacaste had 38 murders, 17 more than in the year before.
In Limón, a province with usually high incidents of homicides, the numbers remained identical, 114 murders, the same in 2018.
Meanwhile, the provinces of San Jose, Alajuela, Cartago and Heredia saw a reduction.
Michael Soto, the Minister of Public Security, said, “The entire Pacific coast has vulnerabilities from a social point of view. Lack of employment, infrastructure problems, unemployment. It is also an area used for international drug trafficking. The circumstances generate violence and a problem that we have to work on.
“From a security point of view, we are going to look for strategies to reduce the figures in these two provinces. However, a more comprehensive approach is required to attack social problems.”
That coincides with the director of the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) – Judicial Investigation Agency – Wálter Espinoza, for whom it is vital to review the numbers and, from that, execute joint strategies to reduce the numbers in this 2020.
“We are concerned about the case of Puntarenas, where there is a huge increase in the number of homicides. We have a report that the social situation in the province is not the best, that there are unemployment problems, youth gangs and, in general, social problems that could be a trigger for more homicides,” said Espinoza.
Costa Rica’s murder rate in 2019 closed at 11.07 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. In countries like El Salvador, it reached 50; Honduras at 42.8 and Mexico and Colombia, 24.
For both Soto and Espinoza, the decrease in Costa Rica last year is important, but it also entails challenges to continue lowering the numbers in the future.
Both security officials attribute the mail cause homicides in Costa Rica to the settling of scores between gangs, followed by revenge, quarrels, while in the commission of another crime, and domestic violence.
According to the data, firearms are the most used (63.4%) in committing homicides, followed by a knife – arma blanca in Spanish – (19.5%) and other weapons (17.1%).