Letter to the Costa Rica Minister of Public Security

Posted by CODEPINK Staff

Below is a letter from the CODEPINK group in Costa Rica to Costa Rica's Minister of Security.

Celso Gamboa Sánchez

Minister of Security

Republic of Costa Rica

We give you the most cordial and sincere welcome to the Ministry of Public Security of Costa Rica. Our expectation is that you will manage the security of our country according to the most precious principles of our nation - where the right to peace is guaranteed by the constitution; where the army has been abolished for decades; and where militarism is frowned upon by Costa Rican society.

We are women for peace in the Costa Rican chapter of Code Pink♥, an organization that emerged in the United States as a reaction to the threat codes red, orange, yellow of the Bush-era prior to the invasion of Iraq, which culminated in one of the most shameful loss of lives on our planet. We have come to ask you, don Celso, in this longed for change taking place in our country, that this new administration leads in ensuring human rights and the respect for the law, and turns away from any type of military or despotic practices that would limit the dignity of the people.

We want an end to Costa Rican police training at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia (renamed WHINSEC) and an end to training by countries like the United States, Colombia and Israel whose human rights records are incompatible with the values of Costa Rica, such as the use of torture and militarized drones against civilians. President Luis Guillermo Solís has said that he would embrace models of security and other aspects of national life like those in Finland, other Nordic countries, the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom. We agree with this view. These are countries where the police are professional but not militaristic.

We understand that the response to organized crime cannot be weak or timid and that advanced technologies and professional intelligences services are required. However, we strongly oppose the spying on and electronic monitoring of ordinary citizens as has happened in the past.  Such practices not only are costly and often useless, but drain resources and attention where attention is required.

Never again should a young man like Jairo Mora be killed through the neglect and inattention of the police and his brutal murder passed off with, "he got into something that he should not have".  Environmentalists are no longer just caring for animals and the forests.  They have become true guardians of the survival of human beings and Mother Earth. They are deserving of support and respect.

When police carry out raids and hateful evictions, excessive violence is unnecessary.  Screaming, kicking and painted faces are not necessary to perform the action. Well-trained police forces do not work that way.

The public protest by citizens deserves respect and protection as a constitutional right.  The citizen response to the violations of rights that move them to take to the streets cannot be criminalized.  We condemn the practice of police infiltrators who provoke, many times with faces masked, to make the protest appear violent and absurd to the public. We also demand absolute respect for university autonomy.

We hope that the current Minister of Public Security will not resort to tricks and traps as did a former Minister who, wishing to send police to the School of the Americas, made a hidden agreement to send the president a letter that would not be answered so as to be able to interpret it as "positive silence. This tactic allowed the then-president to “save face” and not need to publically rescind his promise. Today the fresh air that has come into politics, the overwhelming vote of more than one million three hundred thousand voters who favored the election of President Solís Rivera, can not, must not, be betrayed with age-old despicable practices.

We want care of citizens instead of bullying, especially of children, elderly and people who need it most, including sex workers. We want that our youth not be repressed or disturbed simply because of a police officer's suspicious attitude. People who suffer from addiction should not be treated as trash by police. They deserve a chance to get out of drug or alcohol addiction.  They do not have to accept mistreatment by the police, neither the destitute nor excluded, victims of a dehumanized system. These people are entitled to government programs where with dignity and well-being they can reintegrate to society in a comprehensive way.

We propose that the Minister of Security hold periodic meetings for feedback and to correct problems found, with community groups from civil society. We urge to continue to strengthen neighborhood committees organized to maintain order and security. We wish to have a permanent exchange with people interested in improving civility and welfare with a vision of security integrated with equity and social justice.

In short, we ask protection, not bullying; prevention before crackdown; transparency not espionage. Professionalize the police force, don't militarize it. We ask for trained civil police  who ensure compliance with the law and the rights of the people, not military training. Communicate with and respect the citizens.

In those terms, we will most sincerely welcome you as Minister of Public Security of the Republic of Costa Rica.

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