Audio messages apparently recorded by members of Costa Rica’s National Police Force feature at least a few police officers toying with the idea of starting a coup d’état.
Why overthrow the government? Allegedly, the idea is rooted in opposition to a new work schedule.
Two audio recordings circulated on social media Tuesday. One features an unidentified female voice saying that the coup will occur this Friday and that no officers should go to work that day.
“A coup [golpe de Estado] is possible,” says a separate, unidentified male voice on another recording. “We’re the military. We’re the police. We’re everything.
“We’ll make the population see that without us, there’s no stronger force in this country… There’s no one who does what we do,” the voice continued. “It would be like moving the biggest piece in a domino set and seeing everything else fall with it.”
Officials from the Public Security Ministry responded to the recordings Tuesday, saying the messages came in response to officers’ frustration with a new schedule. Police Director Juan José Andrade said at a press conference that the recordings were made by disgruntled members of the police union intending to plan a strike to protest the newly instituted four-by-two schedule, which means officers work two nights and two days consecutively before taking two straight days off.
“This has stirred up a situation that affects us as an institution,” Andrade said. “It seems there is a group is making these threats, which have gotten out of hand and arise from a variation in police protocol that this group doesn’t agree with.”
According to a press release from the Public Security Ministry, union members prefer a six-by-six schedule that has officers working six days in a row before getting six consecutive days free.
That schedule has already been applied in certain delegations across Costa Rica as part of a month-long trial to help Ministry officials determine which of the two schedules was more practical. A study done by the Ministry’s Occupational Health Department concluded that the six-by-six schedule was not as efficient because it led to fewer officers on duty at certain times and a general uptick in crime.
Andrade and Ministry authorities called any potential strike “unnecessary” and said that punishments could be given to any officers involved.
According to the Costa Rican penal code, inciting a takeover of the government can lead to up to 10 years in prison for those found guilty.