Did they say that exploding fireworks are illegal?

A.M. Costa Rica photo A bottle rocket and the tank killer

A quick glance at the sky Saturday around midnight clearly showed that Costa Rica is a long way from controlling the sale of explosive fireworks.

The Central Valley and other populated areas were alight with thousands of rockets. Such fireworks are strictly forbidden by Costa Rican law, but no one seemed to have had trouble purchasing them.

A man known to A.M. Costa Rica reporters brought three large rockets and a handful of bottle rockets to show what he had purchased for around 25,000 colons, about $50, in Goicoechea Friday. The purchase was made at a stand displaying legal fireworks. The illegal merchandise was under the counter.

The big rockets, about three inches in diameter bore the name of a sociedad anónima or S.A., but the company could not be located in Costa Rica. Other fireworks were marked as products of China.

The visitor joked that the large rockets could be useful to disable tanks or other war machines.

Clearly a small plane would have had problems if it flew at low levels Saturday night over the central Valley.

Each year the Hospital Nacional de Niños embarks on a campaign supported by police agencies to prevent injury to youngsters from seasonal fireworks. New Year’s is just one holiday that features fireworks.
A 5 year old from Guachipelín de Escazú was the season’s first fireworks victim, the Hospital de Niños reported Dec. 16. At least one adult suffered serious burns of the face in a fireworks explosion just before Christmas. There were no immediate reports of injuries from fireworks over the holidays, but some reports may become available today.

Costa Rica manufactures fireworks, but many of the confiscated loads are smuggled from Nicaragua. In a curious case Oct. 18, robbers raided a fireworks factory in Ochomogo de Cartago and made off with goods valued at 100 million colons, perhaps $200,000. Investigators made arrests in that case and recovered much of the fireworks.

A Cartago fireworks factory blew up last June and injured the owner.

Last Sept. 24, the Fuerza Pública intercepted a load of 62,704 explosive devices hidden in fertilizer. The truck came from Nicaragua, and the driver was detained.

Nov. 13 Fuerza Pública officers intercepted another load in Guanacaste. This one contained 570 explosive devices. The fireworks were being transported on a bus on the Upala-San José route. The devices were called double thunder, and police said they were highly explosive. No arrest was made in this case because no one on the bus claimed the suitcase that contained the fireworks, said police at the time.

The night skies Saturday suggest that the efforts to intercept illegal fireworks were ineffective.

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