• Oscar Alcides Zuniga
The illegal drug trade market in Latin America has experienced significant changes and has been the cause of a rapid increase in crime and violence. As countries fight the drug-trade, trafficking routes continue to shift. Today the main drug flow between the South American producing countries and the U.S.—the world’s major drug consumer market, are controlled by powerful Mexican criminal organizations that “transship” cocaine through the Central American isthmus in a wide variety ways to avoid detection and interruption to the flow of merchandise. As a result of the growing amount of cocaine moving through Central America, the death count in the region has risen to some of the world’s highest levels. Nevertheless, there are important differences among the Central American countries and the level of threat that drug-trafficking represents depends on country-specific vulnerabilities. (Argueta, 2013: 198)
This thesis seeks to gain a better understanding of how citizen security in Costa Rica is affected by the large quantities of drug that traverses through the country and explore the state’s ability to provide protection to its citizens. In doing so I argue three points: first, that Costa Rica is vulnerable to violence caused by the flows of illegal drugs that traverse its territory; second, that the Costa Rican state lacks the capacity to prevent the passage of illegal drugs; and third, that the country has started to see the emergence of indigenous criminal groups that collaborate with more sophisticated transnational criminal organizations.
This data is evidence that organized crime has, in fact, a destructive impact on Costa Rican society overall. The strength of the Costa Rican state to fight these trends is researched based on Mann’s concept of “infrastructural power” and two of Soifer’s (2008: 235-236) dimensions of state infrastructural power, national capabilities—infrastructural power as a characteristic of the state to exercise power, and subnational variations—the state’s territorial reach or penetration. Although the Costa Rican state seems to present those conditions that Williams and Godson (2002: 320) believe challenge the emergence of organized crime, social disorganization theories allow us to explain the increasing appeal of “deviant” behavior.
This thesis concludes that due to the characteristics of illegal markets, the Costa Rican is unable to stop the flow of drugs. Nevertheless, the state has demonstrated fairly high levels of resilience in fighting transnational organized crime and drug-trafficking. It has also shown considerable capacity to protect its citizenry.
SpecialisationLatin American Studies
Publication date2014
ID: 201868830