by Nick Dangier

There is no pain or horror which can compare to that which a parent experiences when losing a child. It is a deep festering wound that never really heals.

The kind of all encompassing pain no one , no matter how evil , could possibly deserve. Chato’s mom becomes more hysterical the closer his coffin gets  to it’s final destination in the family crypt. I simply can not watch as she is carried along by family members , shrieking with each slow step as if the pain she felt was physical in nature. I avert my glance and stare at my shoe laces, while shuffling along with the rest of the mourners.

    I’m here on a fittingly overcast day along with most of the crew from Chino’s gin joint. There are well over one-hundred long faced souls gathered. Each one of us wishing we were somewhere else. Anywhere else.

    Chato had been a real fixture at the bar and was loved by all. I never once heard him say a harsh word about anybody. Why anyone would want to fill him full of holes is anybody’s guess.

    Last Friday Chato had been peacefully sitting on a bench at a bus stop in Villa Bonita- a neighborhood on Alajuela’s south side – at around noon. He was on his way back to class at the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje, which is located near Chino’s tavern on the west side, when according to eye witnesses, two helmet clad chuckleheads on a dirt bike pulled up in front of the bus stop, only two or three meters from Chato, and opened fire on him utilizing a 9mm semi-auto pistol- judging by the spent shell casings the assailants left behind. As suddenly as the attack had begun it ended, with the two hit men escaping at high speed in the direction of the Montecillos stock yards. As of press time police had zero leads and are as baffled as the rest of us  as to why a kid with no arrest record or known gang affiliations would be the target of a brutal homicide. Mistaken identity? Gang initiation: a couple dirt bags making their “bones”?

    Chato was in his second year studying to become an electrician. Indeed the kid had become Chino’s official guy when one of his coolers was on the fritz, or the lights refused to work. He actually wired up the alarm system for my ranch. He would have celebrated his twenty-first birthday in November.

    Chato adds  one more digit to the ever increasing body count in a war being waged for the streets of Costa Rica by a myriad of violent and heavily armed gangs. Puravidaville can now boast being in the same league as sub-Saharan Africa, as far as the numbers of homicides committed annually. Pura vida!

    Our friend’s murder comes in the wake of an explosion of violence, not just in Alajuela,but across the country. Our beloved, courageous President Carlos “Clueless Charley” Alvarado was quick to blame the rise in violence on striking public sector workers. President “Fonzi” [ you’ve got to see this guy’s hair ] reasoned in a press conference ,held outside his gender neutral  hair stylist’s shop in Escazu last week, that because of the sheer numbers of police assets diverted to “keep an eye” on angry protesters and protect the homes and property of government bigwigs from don Albino Vargas and his legions of union goons, there sadly aren’t enough cops to police the nation’s neighborhoods. Translation: GO ‘F’ YOURSELF TAX PAYERS; you want justice? Apply for citizenship to Canada.Just don’t forget to send your pay check back to Costa Rica. You know , so the Costarican government can continue doing God’s work on our behalf.

    Those of us living in the real world know it isn’t striking government workers who are facilitating the trans-shipment of thousands of long tons of cocaine thru this country, or  laundering billions of dollars in illicit funds on a daily basis. It isn’t striking workers making anywhere from 13% to 28% on every one of those dirty dollars laundered- proceeds from the sale of those thousands of tons of blow. VIVA LA IVA!

    Chato’s mom doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the hows’ and whys’ of the social rot plagueing our beloved  Costa Rica today; thats fodder for politicians, academics and other generally useless eggheads whose children are not in the line of fire. She just wants her baby boy back. In a country with fourteen- zillion government agencies there isn’t a single  department for that.

    According to the Organismo Judicial de Investigacion [OIJ], Costa Rica’s version of the FBI, Ticolandia is now averaging some 400 homicides annually. Your humble journalist isn’t buyin’ what their sellin’. The OIJ also reports that some 1,000-plus persons were reported missing last year alone. In a country full of “sapos” [busybodies], which is Costa Rica, where you can not board a plane, boat, bus, or donkey headed out of the country without showing identification, where in hell do you think one-thousand folks a year are hiding? Surely, sadly many of those people, if not all of them, are probably in the next world. Probably murdered. So let’s get real: Costa Rica’s homicide numbers have to be at least double what the government claims. Among the “Disappeared” are foreign nationals including U.S. and Canadian citizens.

    This tide of gangland violence sweeping over once storybook peaceful Costa Rica is taking it’s toll on the national psyche, if not completely eroding the very cultural  fabric of Tiquicia. According to the University of Costa Rica’s School of Statistics, Ticos recently polled report feeling more pessimistic about Costa Rica’s future than at any other time in 17 years. Indeed a seperate study done by OIJ reports that less than one out of three crimes goes reported to police on average. The numbers are even lower for foreign tourists finding themselves victims of crime in Costa Rica. The most common response among crime victims, nationals and foreigners alike, as to why they failed to report said crime at the time, was that they believed “nothing would come of it”. Not exactly a vote of confidence in our police and security forces here in “Wally World”. This speaks volumes in a country whose unofficial motto could be summed up in three words: IGNORANCE IS BLISS.


    It appears even Costa Rica’s law enforcement community are targets of these new age gangstas. On Tuesday 17 September at around 2:00 AM Chief Madrigal of Alajuela’s Municipal Police Department, had his personal  vehicle raked with gunfire while sitting unoccupied outside his home in the west Alajuela district of La Garita. On that same night up in the small border community of La Cruz, Guanacaste, Sgt. Artavia of the Fuerza Publica, Costa Rica’s national police force, was ambushed in a hail of bullets while heading home after the end of his shift. As of press time he remains in critical condition at hospital in Liberia.

    Even the ongoing war between the licensed Red Taxi unions,  known commonly as “La Fuerza Roja”, and those rebellious non–sanctioned Uber drivers has gone “hot”. Though, thankfully, no one has gotten killed in that war. Yet.

    Costa Rica’s violent  crime wave is predominantly fueled by homegrown gangs { OIJ reports there are over 1,000 organized crime groups here }, at least 30% of the homicides are being committed by and against foreigners- predominant in this group are Nicaraguan and Colombian nationals respectively.

    Events outside of Costa Rica, in regions such as Venezuela and West Africa, and the refugees being exported from those regions to nearby countries such as Costa Rica will only continue to exacerbate the violence problem here.

    Down in Colombia it appears the fragile peace agreement established between the people of that proud nation and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, better known to the general public as FARC, just a few short years ago, is now kaput. Earlier this month FARC’s second in command, Ivan Marquez [ FARC’s #1 Guy is currently a greasey stain on the muddy jungle floor somewhere in northwest Colombia] announced from his stronghold/hideout in that bastion of freedom and prosperity: Venezuela, that all peace agreements signed by FARC are now null and void. Colombia’s President Duque responded by publicly announcing a $880,000 bounty on not only Comandante Marquez’s beret covered head, but the heads of all the surviving FARC leaders; “dead or alive”. Which in Colombia is politically correct speak for dead. So stand by for hordes of battle hardened Colombians heading our way as well as the good, honest folk fleeing them.

    On behalf of the thousands of families in Costa Rica who are grieving the loss of a loved one due to this senseless and monumentally stupid bloodshed raging in our streets, I offer this advice to the A-holes perpetuating the anguish of those families: 

#1)  Those stupid gangsta rap videos you like to watch and violent video games you like to play ARE- NOT- REAL- LIFE. Snoop Dog might look cool pointing that fake 9mm at the camera, sideways, but Snoop’s never been in a real gunfight in his life, and when the director calls, “cut”, Mr. Dog doesn’t have to be raced to the emergency room with a tourniquet wrapped around his neck. He gets to go home to his gated, mostly white community and his personal yoga instructor waiting patiently poolside with The Dog’s wheatgrass tea and giant rasta joint. Snoop’s mom rides around in a stretch limo’ and spends her days shopping at Neiman Marcus. And God bless her for that. I wish I could have done the same for my mom. Snoop’s mom won’t spend the rest of her life waking up in the wee hours of the night weeping uncontrollably while screaming out her son’s name.

#2) PLEASE LEARN HOW TO SHOOT STRAIGHT… If you human maggots want to off one another, who are we to to stand in your way. But since too few among you dipshits has a clue about the proper handling of firearms, or military tactics and combat procedures designed to minimize innocent civilian casualties, too many good, decent people -often times children- are being maimed and killed. So like I said, please learn something about sight aquisition, dick head.

#3) WHEN YOU WANT TO WACK SOMEBODY, BE SURE TO VERIFY YOUR TARGET FIRST… When don Carlo dispatched the Gallo brothers to take down Albert “The Mad Hatter” Anastasia, they didn’t hit the barber, or the guy selling hot pretzels, or the school kids waiting on their bus at the corner. They didn’t blast the first 300 pound no neck casadeech they came across either. No. They popped Anastasia and only Anastasia. And what a job the boys from Red Hook did. You’ve probably seen the iconic photo of The Mad Hatter spread out on the floor of that barbershop at the Park Sheraton Hotel in N.Y.C. circa 1957. It’s that classic gangland shot where half a dozen NYPD detectives are crouched around Anastasia’s lifeless body, in a selfie- each and every one of them grinning from ear to ear, as if saying to the founder of Murder Incorporated, “bye-bye, mother fu#*ker- good ridence”. As I said previously, scum killing scum= public entertainment. So keep up the good work.

#4) LEARN FROM THE PROS… Get organized. Pick somebody to be Boss of Bosses, for God’s sake. Create a “Comizzione di Pace”, or peace comission, to settle disputes, as the wise guys in the U.S. did 100 friggin years ago. Get with the times! The more Wild West hijinx the more innocent people get hurt the more the government is forced to act. 

#5) Last, but not least: KEEP DOING THE FACE TATTOOS AND GANG INSIGNIAS… It makes it much easier for law enforcement, not to mention your many enemies, to identify your dumb ass. CRIMINAL ORGANIZATIONS LIVE AND DIE BY THEIR  SECRECY OR LACK THERE OF. Lucky Luciano, the greatest gangster who ever lived, didn’t say to his cohorts, ” hey fellas, how ’bout we have a uniform- you know, somethin’ that say’s: ‘hey officer, I’m a dangerous felon! Follow me to my next criminal act; learn who all my friends are’… duuuh.”   

    Or here’s a revolutionary idea: How about not being a criminal in the first place. Become a hero instead. Be a champion of your people. Fight the incompetence and corruption currently suffocating your country. Make your mamma proud, not bereaved. Hell, who knows? You might just live long enough to see that acne clear up. Meanwhile I remain cynically optimistic. Nick out…