Too many black eyes are hurting Tico tourism image

“The tourism industry in Costa Rica is thriving,” so said by some of the printed articles. The only way to account for the numbers is by the flights arriving and passenger counts. This must be good enough for the powers that be to justify turning a blind eye to the problems of tourism crime.

I have stayed away for months not writing anymore letters to the editor of A.M. Costa Rica. I still read it every morning and I am saddened by much of the news. But after today’s news and a story related to me by a client of mine, I am inspired to write once again. A few weeks ago, a murder was committed by someone who had had 41 prior arrests. How could this happen? Who let this man free and why? Is anyone being held accountable for this? Was this simply a judges decision? I would really like to know.

How about ankle bracelets to track those let free on society?

And now this murder on the Osa Peninsula of a 52 year old woman from the United States. I would bet that those previous murders in that area are related to the same criminals. I would also bet that the perpetrators of this murder have been arrested many times before. Are these judges lifetime appointees? Are they being forced to lighten sentences because of prison overcrowding? Is someone being paid off? Where is the investigative journalism?

What is preventative detention anyway? Recently a judge for the Tribunal Penal de Corredores lifted a three-month detention for a woman who is accused of stealing $300,000 with an ATM card over a 10-month period with a debit card stolen from her husband’s employer while she was out of the country. Does the judge have to explain why he let her go? Does she get to keep the money? Will she ever be punished? We always read about the crime but never too much about the punishment or the lack of and a judicial explanation. Are these judges ever held accountable for their actions?

They say that corruption comes from the top down. The inspiration to write this comes from a current client of mine. I have vacation rentals and meet people from all over the planet. All good people who came to discover and enjoy the many adventures in Costa Rica. Many leave with a good impression and can’t wait to tell their friends. This is what builds on more tourism. Word of mouth is better than any other form of advertising. But then there are the others.

This current client was stopped by the tránsitos in a speed trap. The speed dropped from 80 to 60 after a curve, and there they were. They were showed by the officer the carbons of many tickets he had written in his book to scare them. Told that they would have to return to San José to pay and the exaggerated fee they would have to pay. Making a long story short, they gave him 40,000 colons in fear that their vacation would be interrupted. I hear this story more often than I want to say. Maybe there should be periodic lie detector tests for the police to keep their jobs.

This to go along with the other petty crime of car theft and break-ins places a black eye on Costa Rica tourism. It affect all of us here because when these people return to the places they came from, the stories they will relate about their trip to friends will have the ones about the police extortion or the break-ins and other atrocities committed upon them in the forefront. The person hearing this will think negatively about planning their next vacation here in Costa Rica.

I said in a previous article that they, Costa Rica, after selling out to China, should have taken the $80 million dollars for the new stadium that they can’t afford to maintain and instead built a $40 million stadium and used the other $40 million to build some new prisons. Adding more police is not going to solve the problem. Correctly punishing the criminals is.

Tom Ploskina
Nuevo Arenal

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