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Latest update : 2011-04-20

Costa Rica: paradise under threat?

Costa Rica, Latin America’s third-richest country, disbanded its army over 60 years ago, a matter of much pride to its people. But now it’s feeling vulnerable, due to border tensions with Nicaragua and drug convoys en route to Mexico. Costa Rica needs defence, and the poorly equipped police can no longer guarantee the country’s security.

Last October, a small plane crashed a few kilometres away from San José, the capital of Costa Rica. On board were two Mexicans…and 350 kilos of cocaine. If the plane’s engine hadn’t broken down, the aircraft would have flown over the country without encountering any trouble.

For Costa Ricans, the pictures of the accident cast harsh light on the reality behind the country’s image of a tourist paradise. Drug convoys pass through the territory and, in doing so, flood the local market.

With no army, and only 0.3% of the national budget spent on the police, Costa Rica is unable to control its borders. This is made worse by the fact that they are in the middle of the jungle, with Panama to the south and Nicaragua to the north.

France 24’s reporters went to find out more.

By Matthieu COMIN , Laurence CUVILLIER

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