Government officials announced a new security strategy will be implemented beginning in late November for the upcoming Christmas holiday season. According to Minister of Public Security Michael Soto, the nationwide strategy will focus on countering and preventing crime, including 120 operations from December 1-21 at various public events. An additional 579 officers will also be deployed to provide an increased security presence, particularly in the capital San Jose.
The Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT) also launched a security campaign for tourists on Monday, November 26. During an event on November 26, the ICT announced that safety publications for the first phase of the campaign will be released on December 22. In 2019, a mobile application will also be released to provide tourists with safety advice while visiting the country.
Costa Rica has traditionally been one of the least violent countries in the region, with a relatively high level of development, stable government, and a limited military. However, increasing levels of inequality have led to an upsurge in the drug trade in recent years and the rise in violent crime has been attributed in large part to conflicts between rival organized crime groups. The murder rate in 2017 reached 12 per 100,000 residents, and was considered an “epidemic” by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Individuals in Costa Rica are advised to take note of the increased risk of petty crime during the busy holiday period and to remain alert to suspicious objects or behavior, particularly in crowded public places. Common-sense personal security precautions should be observed year-round (e.g., drive with doors locked and windows rolled up, park in a secured parking lot close to your destination, avoid traveling by foot after nightfall, only keep small amounts of cash on hand, avoid wearing excessive jewelry, etc.).
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