President Laura Chinchilla sees Costa Rica as an innocent party between South American drug producers and the United States, which she characterizes as the major consumer.
This was a diplomatic way to tell the U.N. General Assembly “It’s not our fault.” That could be Costa Rica’s national slogan, and what Ms. Chinchilla wants is money. Not that the United States is not already pouring money into this country to fight the drug trade. Witness the multi-million dollar police mansion planned for the Interamericana highway in south Costa Rica or the two aluminum patrol boats recently given the Guardacostas.
Perhaps the president has lost touch with what is going on in the country, but many Costa Ricans have actively and gladly joined in the drug trade. And they are not just serving the United States. The arrests Thursday involved a cocaine shipment to Spain. Drug mules frequently are picked up at Juan Santamaría airport headed to Europe with a hidden stash. Many more get through.
The last big haul in the Pacific involved a boat that was part of the Puntarenas fishing fleet. Some of the crew were Costa Rican.
Time after time, drug investigators make arrests involving the shipment by land of drugs to the north. But they also make large hauls of crack cocaine. Children as young as 8 have been visible for years in south San José smoking crack pipes. At certain corners in San José one can find a drug supermarket.
The point is that Costa Rica is not just a victim but that many citizens here are active participants in the drug trade. And there are many drug users in Costa Rica, perhaps some not very distant from Ms. Chinchilla.
This newspaper has urged a serious and consistent program of preventative drug testing not just of the police, but also of other members of the public administration. In the past we have seen politicians and others go down as drug traffickers. So this is not just a problem of fishermen in Puntarenas.
Ms. Chinchilla has spent many years in public administration here. She has been a security minister, a minister of justice, a first vice president and now a president. One would hope that she devised some plan to stifle the drug traffic.
But we have yet to hear it other than asking for money.