Q COSTA RICA NEWS – Well, that was quick, David Strecker, known as Cuba Dave on the internet, is going to continue behind bars after being found guilty for promoting sexual tourism. The trial that started on Tuesday took only two days.
Strecker, 66 years old, is the first person to be convicted under Costa Rica’s relatively new “sex tourism law” on Wednesday, declared guilty by the three judge panel in a San Jose courtroom.
Strecker was sentenced to a five-year prison term on the single count of violating the 2012 law prohibiting the promotion of Costa Rica as a sexual tourism destination. Strecker’s lawyer, Luis Diento Chacon, pleaded with he judges to dismiss the charges against his client.
Prosecutor Maria Quesada had requested a 15-year sentence for promoting sex tourism on YouTube, Facebook and Cuba Dave postings on Ticaland.com.
Prostitution is not a crime in Costa Rica.
Strecker has been in preventive detention (prison) since September 4, 2015, arrested based on a formal complaint filed with the Organismo de Investigacion Judicial (OIJ) by the Fundación Rahab (Rahab Foundation) – a local NGO combating human trafficking – in August 2015. This was confirmed by lawyers and an OIJ agent who was called to the witness stand.
In a report by the Tico Times earlier this year, the Rahab Foundation lawyers denied the organization had filed an official complaint or “even knowledge of the case”. The Tico Times reported on Wednesday it had contacted the Rahab Foundation founder Mariliana Morales to inquire about the complaint and the OIJ agent sworn statement. “Before hanging up the phone abruptly, Morales said she would not comment on the case,” said the Tico Times report.
In his statement to the judge on the second and final day of trial, Strecker said he always had a passion for photography and the ‘Cuba Dave’ network grew more and more as his follower numbers grew, asking for more info about where to stay while in San Jose and the pitfalls. Strecker said he did not financially gain from his online posts, telling the judges he just liked being the guy who informed people of his travels in Costa Rica.
A post on the social media captured the sentiment of many about this case, “…It seems rather hypocritical to make prostitution legal, then makes it a crime to say, “Hey, prostitution is legal here”.
The defense lawyer said an appeal will be filed as soon as possible.