It’s only September and Costa Rica is about to reach a new homicide record in 2023.
With 641 murders recorded until this Friday, the numbers are close to the projections of the Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ), which shows that, by the end of this month, the total number of homicides from last year will be exceeded, which closed with a record 657 cases.
According to the same projection, the year could end with 931 homicides, a number higher than the 865 projected by the Judicial Police months ago.
In the last hours, these data increased with violent events in San Carlos, Curridabat, Heredia and Goicoechea.
The crime in San Carlos happened around 10:10 p.m. last Thursday in Aguas Zarcas, in the southern part of the Catholic temple, where Edin Esquivel Marín, 20, was killed.
Esquivel was traveling as a passenger on a motorcycle driven by another young man named Gómez. As they advanced on the road behind the church, they were overtaken by two other men riding motorcycles. Apparently the person traveling behind shot him at close range.
After being alerted, a Red Cross unit arrived at the scene to take care of the emergency, but Esquivel was already dead due to a gunshot wound to the ribs. Gómez was only hit by a bullet in one of his legs, but did not need to be transferred to the medical center.
The Public Force conducted an operation in the area to search for the suspects, but they did not arrest anyone. It was learned that Esquivel is a resident of Pitalito de Aguas Zarcas and, according to the authorities, has no criminal record.
Knife attack and two shootings
Likewise, a man of about 26 years was killed after a knife attack on Thursday afternoon in a public street in La Milpa de Guararí, in San Francisco de Heredia.
Based on the report of the Red Cross, at 3:39 in the afternoon, the victim’s body was discovered, whose identity has not yet been revealed, and who had injuries on his back and chest.
A few hours later, around 7:30 in the evening, a shooting left a young man approximately 19 years old dead and two others injured in the Nuevo neighborhood of Curridabat.
According to the data provided by the Red Cross, the victim was hit by several shots in the chest, which caused his death. As for the injured, they were transferred to the Calderón Guardia Hospital; one had a gunshot wound to the leg and the other to the neck.
This Friday, the Ministry of Security reported that officers of the Public Force arrested three suspects in the incident, with the surnames Dávila, Rodríguez and Agüero, the latter with a judicial file for homicide. They also seized two weapons, as well as a motorcycle with a license plate that did not match it and had a stolen report.
Similarly, the Red Cross recorded the death of a 27-year-old man, around 10 pm in Guadalupe de Goicoechea, in a shooting that left another 24-year-old man seriously injured. The deceased subject was found with multiple gunshot wounds, 200 meters north of the Costa Rica Post Office.
‘There are communities where the rule of law no longer exists’
Inequality and lack of opportunities are some of the reasons for the wave of violence that the country is going through, the director of Criminological Sciences of the State Distance University (UNED), Rodrigo Campos, explained to La Nación.
Campos pointed out that many people who are isolated from society choose to find sources of income in drug trafficking.
“Costa Rica is one of the most unequal countries, in one of the most unequal regions of the planet, and it produces many people who are not integrated in society, that is, many people who are left on the street without’ y possibility. to access the basics as a person, health, education, work, housing,” he said.
“When people are no longer in social development, they are ready to participate in anything. There are other regions where they are involved in extremist ideologies, such as racist movements in the United States. We are affected in this region, where people left behind by society are involved in drug trafficking,” the criminologist explained.
Campos pointed out that, beyond police solutions, which help prevent crime, it is necessary to find solutions to the root of social problems. One of its proposals is to strengthen the social fabric of communities where drug trafficking has not penetrated, and to make comprehensive interventions in those already ruled by the underworld.
“We have communities where the rule of law no longer exists, and those who make decisions are those who establish the rules informally, which belong to organized crime. That does not happen in a democratic State like Costa Rica, but it happened,” he said.
For his part, Gustavo Mata, former Minister of Security, explained that Costa Rica has become a “big warehouse” of cocaine that comes from South America and goes to the United States and Europe. The huge amount of cocaine in circulation has lowered its price, because a kilo that used to cost $7,000 in the country is now about $3,000.
This has driven a fierce fight between drug groups to adapt the market to national neighborhoods.
“These mini-cartels, by wanting to compete for the market, kill themselves there. The problem is also that with many deaths there are also collateral victims, some of them die immediately, others are injured, but there is a significant number of collateral victims in the country,” said Mata, who stated that there is no good future due to the growing production of cocaine in South America.