Saturday, December 2, 2006

Criminales y Ladrones

(Winter is back and it's raining today. My painters got rained out. The A/C guy never showed. My pickup is leaking oil. The power is going on and off. So I'm blogging more than usual).

Crime has been escalating here in Deadwood. Not just the regular car breakins on busy weekends at the beach. But home invasions where people are bound, gagged and held at gun or knifepoint. A gringa was recently raped by her assailants while they cleaned out her house and stole her car. They drove it out the main gate, right by the night security guard. My wife will not walk the street to her parent's house at the beach at night - a street she's walked for her entire life until this year. Criminals and theives have been gaining the upper hand lately. The residents of Deadwood are afraid and angry. Someone will be shot - hopefully.

The epidemic has been mainly concentrated in a new gated community with several houses under construction. There's a lot of construction traffic through the gates. Lots of imported labor is part of that traffic - people who aren't part of the community, have no community relations, are unskilled, illiterate and have nothing to lose - mainly poor Nicaraguans. Nicaragua is the poorest country in the western hemisphere behind Haiti. 80% of its population lives in poverty. Many are immigrating to Costa Rica, and especially Guanacaste because if it's proximity, in search of a better life. But when you're unskilled and illiterate, the only job opportunities available are for maids and day laborers. Many find that the life here isn't much different than from whence they came.

Regardless of nationality, peones have all day to scope out the existing homes while they work: whether the home is occupied and if it is, when people come and go. One phone call to a friend and the heist is on. But lately it isn't just about stealing. People are being stabbed and raped. This is quite new for this area of Costa Rica. I, for one, believe our private police force is complicit in what's been happening lately. Too many coincidences. Smells fishy, more fishy than usual.

Deadwood has a crime problem it needs to effectively deal with before Frommer's and Lonely Planet start getting wind. If the trend continues in the direction it's heading, the tourism and real estate economy on which Deadwood is based will crash, causing a ripple effect that will destroy many peoples' livlihoods.

Growing pains, I guess. But I'm beginning to feel less safe than I did in the city of 3 million from whence I came.

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