U.S. Embassy officials recently met with expats in Puerto Viejo, the lively tourist mecca on Costa Rican’s southern Caribbean coast, to discuss a travel alert that has been in place since 2013.
On a recent visit to Puerto Viejo, The Tico Times found that residents almost universally support the lifting of the alert, which was prompted by a string of armed robberies, one of which left a 15-year-old Palestinian girl dead, by a criminal gang that was captured two years ago.
The embassy continues to study the issue, but residents and police say the south Caribbean is safer than ever. Police recently launched a WhatsApp group in which residents can report petty crimes and suspicious characters, and police can respond in real time.
And it’s getting results, as we learned firsthand when we saw complaints about a suspect on the app in the morning and found him handcuffed at Tourism Police headquarters a couple of hours later.