TICO BULL – I was surprised reading the post by our friend IVO Henfling on his website, about the message from the U.S. Embassy in San José, warning Americans travelling and living in Escazu, of the risk to their due to recent incidents.
The message, which I could not find posted on the Embassy website, nor anywhere in emails (oh, wait, I’m not American), is alarming as it explains there have been three drive-by shootings in Escazu, resulting in the death of two Costa Ricans and the serious injury to a U.S. citizen.
If it hadn’t been for Ivo’s post I would have never known of this danger, and avoid Escazu from now on. That means no more going to Multiplaza, the movies at Avenida Escazu, Pricesmart, my vet (righ in the middle of Escazu), my German preztel supplier and friends.
Like Ivo, I have lived in Costa Rica for some time, almost 20 years, including several of those in Escazu and the majority in Sabana/Rohromoser, next to Escazu, and have NEVER been shot at. And like Ivo, maybe it’s because I’m not an American, not involved in sportsbooks. Maybe it’s because I not involved in many of the stupid things of some expats. Or, like Ivo, maybe I am just no worth being shot at?
Bad things do happen in Costa Rica. And to good people in the wrong place at the right time. But, if we compare to what is going on in U.S. cities, Costa Rica is still pretty much “pura vida”. If you don’t go looking for trouble, place yourself in a risky situation, involved in anything illegal, you are pretty much good to go, nothing to worry about, in Escazu or for the most part all of Costa Rica, save for a few places, well that not even Ticos want to deal with: Lomas de Pavas, some parts of Alajuelita, Hatillos, Leon XIII, Ipis, some parts of Tibas, and La Carpio: these are marginal area, populated mostly by the poor sector, and overrun by criminal gangs, called slums in the U.S.
As Ivo points out in his post, a study done on homicide rates in 2012 by the United Nations shows that the U.S. shows a much higher percentage of homicides than Central America.
Here is a reprint of the alleged (I say alleged because I have not been able to find it anywhere, including some of my American friends I reached out to, haven’t seen it) Embassy notice that was distributed through Costa Rica Living Forum:
The following information is provided as an overview of recent security incidents that, because of their location or nature, could affect the safety of U.S. citizens traveling and living in Escazú. During March, three separate drive-by shootings occurred in Escazú, resulting in the death of two Costa Rican citizens and serious injury to a U.S. citizen. One shooting took place by the Los Anonos Bridge, another near CIMA Hospital and the third in front of the Chez Christophe restaurant located on the west side of Paco Plaza in Escazu. U.S. citizens are reminded that crime and violence can occur anywhere, so always be aware of your surroundings and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security and follow the instructions of local authorities. We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Costa Rica enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at website. STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. Read the Country Specific Information for Costa Rica. For additional information, refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad” on the State Department’s website. Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.
You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The U.S. Embassy/Consulate in San Jose is located at Av. O Calle 120, Rohrmoser. If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the emergency number for the U.S. Embassy is 2519-2000.