Having grown up in the era of fried egg brains and “just say no” it is fascinating to now be able to follow the US war on drugs from a sky box seat in Central America. Granted, Monteverde doesn’t see much “action”, as it is illogical for smugglers to pass over these mountains, where everyone knows everyone else’s secrets and no one seems to have the capacity to keep them. Most shipments speed through or past our humble country by car, bus, or submarine. A tiny but growing fraction of what is shipped finds its way to our kids in Limon and San Jose (pot, cocaine, crack and crystal meth mostly). Monteverde has its one token public crackhead who knows everyone's daily schedules and breaks into their homes while they're out, looking for laptops to hawk for the cause. A few of the high school kids experiment with pot and alcohol, and I’m sure there are a few dealers down by the plaza, who find clientele largely at the tourist bars. Mostly though, Monteverde's green stays in the forest.
So, if you follow local news, the US war on drugs here consists of 46 warships skimming our precious reefs, 200 helicopters cruising our jungles and thousands of Marines coming to do “humanitarian” work, hoping to stumble across a the few traffickers still dumb enough to travel by bus with a garbage bag full of bricks. This operation, which was somehow approved last week by less than half of Costa Rica’s parliament (I still don’t get how the multiparty system is so effectively dominated by the one party that’s offered us the last two presidents) basically gives the US a giant gilded hunting license, applicable to the whole country. Considering that Costa Rican citizens need to apply for a permit to cut down a tree branch on their own property, this is a pretty stunning abdication. Also, the rise in trafficking cocaine sharks, means we get to give up our civil liberties too!
The local authorities seem eager to show the invading army how efficient their own drug sweeps can be. Last week, elite police troops stormed a bar in Alajuela, making everyone lie on the ground next to their Imperials, while each patron was searched. The result was... three grams of marijuana. They can add that to their total seizure numbers, nearly 25% of which consists of "found" drugs, like the bags of cocaine that randomly washed ashore near Puerto Viejo. Now that's what I call Fuerza Publica!
Meanwhile, on the Panamerican highway, my wife and I rode a public bus down from Sonzopote where we were visiting her family (car's on the fritz again) and were stopped no less than five times by police with dogs, who checked ID's and looked menacing, hoping to stare confessions out of the guilty. The trip, which normally takes about six hours, turned slowly into eight. At one checkpoint outside Liberia, a Nicaraguan woman was called off the bus, her duffle bag removed and opened, all contents spilling out onto the well baked asphalt. Then, one by one her undergarments were held up to the light for all to see and inspect. The DEA will no doubt be pleased to know that their $40 million dollar grant to the CR police is being used wisely. I so wanted to shoot a picture and slap it up here with the caption "This is your brain on Drug Wars"