San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

President Kicks Off Sports Initiative To Stem Crime

As President Oscar Arias signed his name on Wednesday to a law to combat organized crime, he announced a related initiative to address the country’s burgeoning security problems.

Instead of buying more boats for the Coast Guard or hiring more police for tiny rural stations, Arias is hoping to stem drug trafficking and organized crime by way of new soccer fields and basketball courts, more organized sports teams and more treadmills and dumbbells.

“In order to guarantee our peace, we don’t just need fewer criminals, organized crime and groups of drug traffickers,” he said. “We also require more gyms in our high schools, more sports fields at our parks … and more athletes. The promotion of sports and the fight against crime are profoundly related.”

The law on the table before him also came in response to a safety problem that Costa Ricans say has been growing at an alarming rate.

The organized crime law will allow the country to enhance security measures on at least four fronts: improving information sharing among units, improving the attention given to victims of crime in the Prosecutor’s Office, establishing a judicial communications center and forming a permanent commission to address crises (TT, July 3). But it also will authorize phone taps, extend preventive prison sentences and accelerate investigations of suspicious bank accounts.

–Chrissie Long


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