Costa Rica’s new president and violent crime

Costa Rica has a new president – Laura Chinchilla, who took office on May 8th 2010 – so I am recycling a TdJ that reveals her thoughts when she was Justice Minister in the government of President Oscar Arias.

In recent years we have witnessed an alarming increase in levels of criminal violence. ….

[D]uring the period 1990-2006 total crimes per 100,000 inhabitants increased from 135 to 295 and increases in some components are especially troubling. Robbery, for example, increased 700%, and use of illegal drugs increased 280%. Violent crimes also experienced a sharp growth of more than 100%. The murder rate, indicator par excellence of the level of violence in a country, increased 50% in that same period. As a complement for these indicators, we looked the percentage of households in which at least one family member has been victim of a crime and found that this number increased from 20% in 1986 to 27% in 1999 and 40% in 2004. ….

Increasing violence and fear has caused us to draft over the last fifteen years abundant laws regarding law enforcement and punishment. ….

As a result of all this legislation, … in the last ten years we have doubled the rate at which we jail our citizens, which places us at the head of countries with the highest rates of incarceration on this continent. Paradoxically, after adopting all these measures, violence and criminality continue to grow and the prevalence of fear is stronger today than ever. ….

For this reason the Government of the Republic… has proposed implementation of a National Plan for Prevention of Violence and Promotion of Social Peace.

19 August 2007: It is about time action was taken, given the rapidly deteriorating public security in Costa Rica. The author of this column, Laura Chinchilla, is Minister of Justice in the current government of President Oscar Arias. Thought du jour will be monitoring developments. Translated somewhat freely by L. Willmore. The original Spanish follows.

15 June 2010: I haven’t seen the statistics, but violent crime seems to continue rising in Costa Rica. We shall see whether Laura Chinchilla is more successful as President than she was as Justice Minister. We wish her well.

En los últimos años somos testigos de una preocupante tendencia hacia el incremento de los niveles de violencia criminal. ….

Por ejemplo, durante el período 1990-2006 la tasa del total de delitos por 100.000 habitantes pasó de 135 a 295 y algunos de ellos crecieron de manera especialmente preocupante; tal es el caso del robo, cuya tasa se incrementó en un 700% y las infracciones a la ley de psicotrópicos, que crecieron en un 280%. Los delitos violentos experimentaron también un importante crecimiento; así ha ocurrido con las agresiones físicas, que crecieron en más de un 100%. La mismas tasas de homicidio doloso, indicador por excelencia del nivel de violencia en un país, se incrementaron en un 50% en ese mismo período. Como complemento a estos indicadores, al analizar el porcentaje de hogares en los que algún miembro ha sido víctima de un delito, observamos cómo dicha cifra pasó de un 20% en 1986, a un 27% en 1999, y a un 40% en el 2004. ….

La violencia y el miedo nos ha llevado ha promover en los últimos quince años una abundante legislación en materia policial y penal. ….

Como consecuencia de toda esta legislación, … en los últimos diez años se ha duplicado la tasa de prisionalización, lo que nos coloca a la cabeza de los países que más encarcelan en el continente. Paradójicamente, al tiempo que hemos adoptado todas estas medidas, la violencia y la criminalidad, lejos de reducirse o contenerse, han seguido creciendo y la sensación de temor es más fuerte hoy que antes. ….

De ahí que el Gobierno de la República … se haya propuesto impulsar un Plan Nacional para la Prevención de la Violencia y la Promoción de la Paz Social.

Laura Chinchilla Miranda (Ministra de Justicia), “Un país sin miedo” [“A Country without Fear”], La Nación, San José, Costa Rica, 19 agosto de 2007.


One Response to “Costa Rica’s new president and violent crime”

  1. Steve says:

    Thank you in advance for your help.

    6 December 2010

    World Wide Outcry To Stop Gender Violence Against UK Woman Burned In Costa Rica

    We are asking people from across the world, including key human rights activists, women’s rights activists, public intellectuals and citizens groups to support a global petition demanding action from Costa Rican President, Laura Chinchilla.

    • August, 2010, 62 year old Patricia Simpson of United Kingdom was burned with cigarettes, had lighter fluid poured on her stomach and private’s and set ablaze in her home in Costa Rica. She was left to lay on the floor and denied assistance and medical attention by her landlord and gardner for four days.

    • August, September & October 2010, Patricia Simpson repeatedly contacted the local authorities for help and was denied. She attempted to file a formal complaint and police report against this man and was denied.

    • November 26, 2010, her friend Steve Bryant took her to the Defensoria de Habitantes in the country’s capital where she was allowed to file a complaint against her attackers.

    • November 28, 2010, Patricia Simpson’s friend, Steve Bryant of Canada reached out to the world via YouTube to ask for assistance to bring this issue to the President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla.

    • November 30, 2010, Costa Rica Canal 6 featured the story on the 6pm and 11 pm news to bring awareness to the crime. Once again Patricia Simpson and Steve Bryant asked for assistance in bringing justice against the men who did this. Steve Bryant of Canada raised a fundamental point of principle, which is “how can this 62 year old woman be attacked in this way and receive no police assistance and no help in aprehending the men who did this to her”.

    • December 1, 2010, Steve Bryant posted the news story on his youtube channel. The story began to appear on facebook and other social media channels. Three other victims came forth to share their similar stories of being stalked and attacked by the same man.

    • December 2, 2010, The website appeared with the aim to bring worldwide attention to the stalking against expatriate women crimes occuring in Costa Rica that are not being prosecuted. Another victim states that 3 years ago she had a similar ocurance and stalking is not recognized as a crime in Costa Rica. The man implicated is a US Citizen. Her court documents say he is utilizing the lack of law protecting women from this crime to continue to make violent attacks on expatriate women.

    • December 3, 2010, Online petition to Laura Chinchilla created. Please help this cause by signing the following petition:

    • December 5, 2010, Victim number 5 speaks out against this man.

    • December 6, 2010, Update video posted to you tube and visitor’s hit over 22,500. Here is the channel that holds all of the videos: