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Monday, November 28, 2022

The over-a-kilometer red line they painted on historic sidewalks in Costa Rica (and why it’s sparked controversy)

Red Line In San Jose

red line in san jose

“What’s that line?” “Scratches look terrible, terrible visual pollution.” “What is that obscenity?”

Residents of San Jose, Costa Rica, were stunned last week by a striking red line that appeared painted on some sidewalks in the downtown area and covers a distance of 1.5 km.

Uncertainty about the purpose of that line was evident in several publications on social networks, which also questioned why it was painted on the historic arena of Costa Rica’s capital.

However, many critics did not stop at its release. What exactly is behind this initiative.

The municipality of San Jose explained that everything is part of an urban renewal project that will be officially presented in December and that in the case of the mentioned line, it intends to create a safe passage for pedestrians.

Christened the “Center Kilometer”, this line connects hotels that are open 24 hours a day and can be considered a safe place for people who have questions about the city or, in particular, Help is needed in emergencies like robbery or assault.

Red Line In San Jose

red line in san jose

“It is a symbolic way of visualizing, delimiting and setting limits to some of the urban violence in our day-to-day”, summarizes Tatiana Chaves, The head of cultural services of the municipality of San José, in conversation with BBC Mundo.

And despite the controversy brewing, be aware that the drawing of red lines may escalate. “The idea is to build perimeter roads around the city centre. Any business that wants to join the initiative is welcome why IThis will increase the lines.”

criticized for its effectiveness

Although the initiative also proposes that the route have better lighting and infrastructure improvements, many Costa Ricans criticized it, believing that it 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 create a truly safe environment,” he explains. diego mirandaThe municipal alderman (councillor) in San Jose in an interview with BBC Mundo.

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Among some of the most frequent criticisms is the question of whether the line can convey this message to tourism. san jose is an unsafe place and that they should consider this course only a safe place.

Costa Rica has traditionally been described as an oasis of peace and stability in comparison 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 has been relatively stable over the past three years, although with a month and a half left to go this 2022, the number has already reached the number recorded last year (46).

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 off alarm bells among the population and “triggered a discussion about how safe cities can be”. San Jose or not”, according to Miranda.

Annual Crime In San Jose, Costa Rica.  (2022 Figures As On 13 November).  ,

Annual crime in San Jose, Costa Rica. (2022 figures as on 13 November). ,

“It is not intended to say that only this passage is safe. It is to provide a 24/7 security space for visitors, which is not common in the city because they close at a certain time,” Chavez responds.

In fact, some consider the red line can have the opposite effect and become a magnet for criminals who may seek easy victims along 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, Chaves dismisses the idea and confirms that the area the route passes through is covered by security cameras and frequent police rounds. “It’s not called crime, but that people feel safer in traffic,” he says.

Protest For Feminism In San Jose, Costa Rica

The Red Line aims to be a safe space for visitors and citizens of San Jose.

historical heritage

Although beyond its effectiveness to promote or enhance safety, one of the most criticized aspects was the decision to paint the line in the center and on old pavements next to buildings declared historical architectural heritage.

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“An objection may be raised to me that the pavement has not been declared patrimonial, but not all properties of patrimonial value have been declared patrimonial,” the San Jose architect and researcher told the Costa Rican newspaper La Nación. Andres Fernandez.

“The pavement, with its historical value because it is made of stone (not cobblestone or concrete pavement) acquires a combined or accompanying value,” said the expert, who calculated one of the painted pavements to be about a century old.

Red Line In San Jose

The line crosses the side of the Marrow Heritage Building in downtown San Jose.

The municipality replied, however, that the paint chosen did 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 paint”Chavez explains.

Councilor Miranda, like many Costa Ricans, also criticizes the choice of this thick red line as a sign of identification of the route.

“Signs or something more creative could have been used, which would not be so offensive or invasive with the landscape and could also serve as a reference for the tourism that comes to us,” he says.

Chaves believes that “other ways and forms could be discussed”, But he defends that election along this line is followed by civic groups, chambers of commerce and other institutions that have reached that consensus.

Freedom Trail Day Boston

In Boston, a line runs through a portion of the city but also to connect monuments and tourist sites where appropriate.

It also maintains that there have already been experiences of public space interventions in other countries, and cites as an example freedom path from Boston, in the United States. However, what this route does connect are monuments and important places in the city and does so mostly through a row of red bricks integrated into the ground.

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

“This suggests that people who walk through the city have a connection to their environment. It is a space for reflection that opens up And healthy discussion is always important.” conclusion.

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