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Monday, December 05, 2022

Costa Rica: why the 1.5 kilometer red line painted on the streets of the center causes controversy

“What’s that line?”, “Scratches look terrible, a terrible visual pollution”, “What is that vulgarity?”. residents of San Jose, Costa Ricawoken up by a last week The striking red line seen painted on some sidewalks in the downtown area And it covers a distance of 1.5 km.

uncertainty about purpose This line was evident in many publications on social networks, which also questioned the fact that it was painted on the historic square of the capital of Costa Rica.

However, this did not stop many critics from revealing what was really behind the initiative. the municipality of san jose explained that all part of an urban renewal project Which will be officially presented in December and which is intended to create a safer passage for pedestrians in the case of the mentioned line.

the place where the line is locatedCourtesy of Alonso Tenorio / Costa Rica

baptized in the name of “Center Kilometer”, the line connects hotels open 24 hours that can be considered safe places for people who have questions about the city or, especially, those who need help in emergencies such as a robbery or assault. is a symbolic way of Make visible, delineate and limit some urban violence in our day-to-day”, summarizes Tatiana ChavezIn conversation with the Head of Cultural Services of the Municipality of San José BBC Mundo.

And be careful, regardless of the reason for the dispute Red layer may increase, “The idea is to build perimeter roads around the city centre. Any business that wants to join the initiative is welcome And this will increase the lines.

Although the initiative also proposes better lighting and infrastructure improvements along the route, many Costa Ricans criticized it, believing that This is not the most appropriate way to guarantee the safety of citizens and tourists. “The idea is not entirely bad, beyond the clumsiness of the line. But a strategy is needed to create the dynamic between businesses and local government that makes it possible to make the environment truly safe”, he explains. diego mirandaIn an interview with the municipal registrar (councillor) in San Jose, BBC Mundo.

between some review Again and again, the question is whether this line can send tourism the message that san jose is an unsafe place and that they should consider this course only a safe place.

Costa Rica is traditionally described as an oasis of peace and stability compared to most neighboring countries. Without official figures from Nicaragua, the Costa Rican murder rate last year was among the lowest in Central America, at just over 11 per 100,000 residents (less than a third of Honduras, for example). In San Jose, the number of murders remained relatively stable. In the last three years, though there is one and a half months left to kick off this 2022, this figure has already been registered in the previous year (46).

Crime In San Jose, Costa Rica
Crime in San Jose, Costa RicaBBC

However, the deaths of two young men aged just 19 and 23 after being stabbed in the middle of the street in the capital in June and July this year set alarm bells ringing among the population and “triggered a discussion about how, according to Miranda , the center of San Jose is safe or not”. “It is not intended to say that only that route is safe. This is to provide a 24/7 security space for visitorsWhich is not normal in the city because they close at a certain time”, answers Chavez.

In fact, some consider the red line can cause the opposite effect and become a magnet for criminals Who can find easy victims on the way. Miranda warned, “It could serve to breach the security of visitors to the city who don’t know where to go beyond the line and organized crime finds them there.”

From the municipality, Chávez rejects the idea and confirms that the area the route runs through It has security cameras and police patrols. Often. “It’s not called crime, but that people feel safer in traffic,” he says.

However, beyond its effectiveness in promoting security or not, one of the most criticized aspects was decision line to be drawn in the center and on old sidewalks next to declared buildings architectural heritage. “It may be objected to Pavement not declared heritageBut not all assets of ancestral value are declared heritage,” he told a Costa Rican newspaper. Country Architect and researcher from San Jose, Andres Fernandez,

“pavement with its historical value, since it’s stone (not cobblestone or concrete pavement) It acquires a combined or accompanying value”, assured the expert, who calculated that one of the painted pavements must be about a century old.

Although the municipality responded The chosen paint does not cause permanent damage to the surface. “It is a project that has a certain temporality and will not happen at some point, because It is washable and biodegradable paintChavez says.

Controversy Centers On The Fact That The Line Lies On A Historical Path.
Controversy centers on the fact that the line lies on a historical path.Twitter @DiegoMiranda

Councilor Miranda, like many Costa Ricans, also criticizes the choice of this thick red line as a sign of identification of the route. ,Hints could have been used or something more creative, not so offensive Nor so aggressive with the landscape and that can equally serve as a reference for the tourism coming to us”, he assured.

Chávez acknowledges that “other methods and forms could have been discussed”, but defends that the choice of this line is followed by civic groups, chambers of commerce and other institutions that reached that consensus. also makes sure that has already Experiences of public space intervention in other countriesand cites as an example Freedom Trail in Boston, USA. This passage, however, what it connects are monuments and important places in the city and it does so mostly through a row of red bricks integrated into the floor.

“Part of the aim of the project was to generate an impact action that would turn our gaze towards the city, that would lead us to argue about it,” he said when asked if he expected the project to cause controversy .

“It shows that people who walk through the city have a connection to their environment. it’s a space for reflection that opens And healthy discussion is always important”, he concluded.

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