When President Oscar Arias sliced an assault rifle with a power saw Aug. 16 during a ceremony marking 100 days since his inauguration (TT, Aug. 18), he helped wrap up the first stage of a program to reduce the number of confiscated weapons in government stockpiles.
The assault rifle cut by Arias was among the last of 3,521 firearms destroyed with technical support and tools provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Each weapon was cut into three pieces with an electric saw, said Jose Manuel Hermida, the Costa Rica representative for UNDP. Between 8,800
and 9,000 more guns are being processed
for possible destruction.
Police spokesman Jesús Ureña said it is “very probable” that the remaining confiscated weapons will be destroyed eventually, but no official decision has been made on the subject, and no date has been set. No action has yet been taken on Security Minister Fernando Berrocal’s June suggestion that in addition to confiscated weapons, many “military weapons”in the police arsenal should also be destroyed.
Hermida said the Ministry of Public Security has done an excellent job expediting the complicated processes necessary to demolish the guns.
“They have organized it very well,” he said.
The arms destruction program is part of an ongoing UNDP effort to improve security in Costa Rica at the canton level.