Archive for January, 2011

To Protect and Serve

January 11, 2011

This is a letter to the editor in La Nación, Costa Rica’s only respectable daily newspaper. First, the verbatim letter published in Spanish. My translation follows.

¿Quién podrá protegernos?

El 1.° de enero fue una madrugada preocupante en Barrio Lourdes de Pérez Zeledón. Unos 20 muchachos problemáticos empezaron apedrear varios locales y casas. Una patrulla de la Fuerza Publica de Pérez Zeledón llegó 30 minutos más tarde y ante la pregunta de qué pensaban hacer, angustiados de ver como destruían parte de nuestra propiedad, el oficial índicó: “¿qué quiere, que nos maten?” y “eso no es problema de nosotros”. ¿Dónde estaban los refuerzos? ¿Dónde está la seguridad? ¡Qué clase de respuesta! Decepción total.

Who can protect us?
January 1st was a worrisome morning in Barrio Lourdes in Pérez Zeledón [city in southern CR]. Around 20 problematic boys started throwing rocks at stores and houses. A police patrol car from Pérez Zeledón showed up 30 minutes later and, when asked what they were going to do about it, as we were anguished to see how they were destroying part of our property, the officer said: “What do you want, for them to kill us?” and “This isn’t our problem.” Where was the backup? Where is the security? What a response! A total disappointment.

This is indicative of my experience with the police, as well. I’ve called to report a robbery, and the officer on the line said, “Do you see the robber?” I responded negatively. “Well, there’s nothing we can do, then.” And he hung up.

Another time I called to report a man threatening me with a monkey wrench at my front door, trying to get in. “Sorry, but we’re out of gas,” the officer said.

Once I was in a dance club and a fight broke out in the street, and one man pounded another’s head into the curb. The cops stood around with the rest of us, watching. I asked them why wouldn’t they do something, to which they responded, “Those guys are crazy, man. I’m not getting in there.”

I have many, many anecdotes along these lines, but I have to work now. So you’ll have to ask me in person.