QUEPOS – Christmas arrived early at this central Pacific town this year as Municipal Police unwrapped $14,000 worth of uniforms, global positioning systems, binoculars and other professional equipment donated by the United States Embassy.
The gift represents the embassy’s first direct donation to a municipal police department in Costa Rica, as the embassy tends to focus its efforts on developing national programs.
Nevertheless, it’s a form of assistance that Robert Andrew, narcotics affairs officer for the U.S. Embassy, said should continue.
“We hope to build on our success here,” he said. “We don’t have anything planned (for future donations), but it’s something we want to grow.”
The canton of Aguirre, which is most famous for the beaches of ManuelAntonioNational Park and this port town, hasn’t been immune to the security problems that have plagued the rest of the country.
In fact, the canton’s location on the Pacific coast and easy access to the country’s principal highways have made it an ideal destination for drug traffickers, said Mayor Oscar Monge in his remarks Monday as he accepted the donation.
“This equipment will improve our efficiency and effectiveness as a police force,” Monge said. “Just like chefs can’t do anything without knives, bowls and pans, it was hard for our police forces to do their job without the proper equipment.”
For Andrew, Manuel Antonio and Quepos seemed like a logical place to start.
“Dozens of (North) Americans live here and many more visit every year,” he said. “Anything that improves the security of this area helps improve the security of all visitors.”
Andrew said the civic-minded private sector, led by hotel owner Harry Bodaan, also spurred the embassy’s decision to begin with Aguirre.