San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Public Security Ministry to build police station in Puerto Viejo

The Public Security Ministry (MSP) confirmed that it will build a police station in the coastal town of Puerto Viejo, in the Caribbean province of Limón.

Vice Minister and National Police Director Juan José Andrade said at a news conference on Tuesday that the ministry has allocated the required funds for the design and construction of the station, and expects construction to begin soon.

The MSP announcement comes just days after the murder of Bruce McCallum, a Canadian tourist who was stabbed to death in Puerto Viejo – most likely during a mugging, the Judicial Investigation Police reported.

Local residents found the body in the early hours of Sunday lying on a street. The man had told members of his group that he was interested in shooting the sunrise at the beach.

Increased patrolling

The announcement of a new police station is part of the ministry’s actions to improve surveillance in the Caribbean region. On March 10, Vice Minister Andrade disclosed the details of an increased patrolling plan during a town meeting in Puerto Viejo. Starting this week, 40 National Police officers joined another 40 who currently patrol the Cahuita district.

Andrade said that during the next 100 days these 80 officers will patrol around the clock. At the end of that period MSP will decide whether to extend the increased surveillance plan.

Officers are currently conducting foot and bike patrols. They also are setting checkpoints along the road and performing intelligence work in various areas, Andrade said. Others are conducting surveillance in various communities with the help of two mobile police stations.

Police officers during foot patrols are handing out information about safety measures and talking to residents, business owners and tourists.

“We guarantee police presence by air, sea and land. National Police and Tourist Police officers are working closely with local entrepreneurs and residents,” Andrade said.

Increased surveillance also includes sea patrols along the coastline, mostly aimed at detecting boats transporting drugs, Andrade said.

See also: Puerto Viejo crime is down 

National Police officers are handing out information and talking to tourists, local residents and business owners about safety measures.

(Courtesy of MSP)

Contact L. Arias at

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Ken Morris doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And all based on one short visit? What a baffoon. Ive lived in pto viejo for several years, also lived in Guanacaste and San jose. This is by far the firiendliest place in the country in regards to relations between Tico’s and Gringos. Unlike the Pacific, where gringos live in gated communities or gilded tower condos, people here live in actual homes with yards, side by side with the locals.. intermarriage between the two is the highest rate in all of Costa Rica, and multicultural families are the norm. There are a few bad apples/criminals anywhere, but Puerto Viejo is by far the warmest, most genuine relations between foreigners and Costa Ricans you can find. I encourage anyone who lives here to visit and see for themselves. Unless your one of those sour pussed gringos that complain about everythubg Costa Rican, in which case please stay home!

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Ken Morris

When I once visited Puerto Viejo, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. The problem for me wasn’t that the place isn’t pretty or anything like that, but that I’d rarely seen a place where the domination of a poor local population by wealthier foreign owners and foreign tourists was so ugly. Indeed, I couldn’t help noticing how the wealthier foreigners would (unintentionally I’m sure) condescend to the locals, or how when the foreigners turned their backs, the resentment of them by the locals was so apparent. It was a creepy experience, and I wanted out.

None of which is to say that I excuse the murder of a tourist–or robberies of tourists. This is still wrong, wrong, wrong. It is however to say that I find it eminently predictable–even as I find the investation of the larger area by drug gangs predictable.

It therefore saddens me that the policy response is more cops. Unfortunately, they are probably needed, but the basic rule about policing applies here as much or more so than it does elsewhere. This rule is that as soon as more cops are called in, the battle against crime has been lost. Police rarely prevent crimes, they just come in after the crimes are committed, and often as not only take statements from the next of kin.

There are good people in Puerto Viejo, including good foreigners in the tourism industry who understand the problem I’m talking about better than I, and I definitely don’t mean for my comment to disparage them.

But what I do want is more policy attention to the near complete lack of economic opportunities for the local population. I also want some awareness that continuing to encourage a tourism industry at the expense of nurturing other potential industries is a recipe for disaster. Any place that does this just has to call in more cops, although they will for the most part only end up taking statements from the next of kin.

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