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Seeking The American Dream, Women End Up Being Exploited in Costa Rica

The “American Dream” of several women in Costa Rica never came to be. The promises of a promising future ended in deceptions and nightmares for the Central American women.

In the last two months, Costa Rican authorities were able to dismantle two gangs that brought women to Costa Rica with false employment offers and good pay and forced into labor and exploited sexually. The women were from Guatemala and Nicaragua.

“Many foreigners fall into the trap. They come to Costa Rica that supposedly is a country of peace, but unfortunately it is used by criminals to traffic in people and they are deceived,” explained Mariliana Morales of the Fundación Rahab (Rahab Foundation).

The foundation provides comprehensive assistance to victims of trafficking in the country and states that cases are increasingly increasing.

“My family in Costa Rica had no money, so when I was four years old my mother sold me as a sex slave. The men paid a lot of money for doing what they wanted with the children. Therefore, while other children of my age went to school, I worked in a brothel, giving all the profits to my mother. All my life I felt ugly and dirty, ashamed. I learned to drink liquor and use cocaine very early, as a way to dull the pain,” Hilda

This year, immigration (Migración) have rescued about 30 people who are victims of human trafficking (trata de personas in Spanish). Among the latest cases were in the Northern Zone, in general involving young women and in some cases, minors.

“This is an immoral business, a multi-million dollar business that in recent years has grown because we thought that slavery was the people who were exploited on farms, but new ways of exploiting and taking advantage of the vulnerability of human beings are being created,” explained Morales.

Image Rahab Foundation

Costa Rica As A Destination

The Rahab Foundation points that Costa Rica is a country of origin and transit for people trafficking, as well as a destination country. Young Central American women, for the large part, are tempted with a better life in Costa Rica but end up being exploited.

The two gangs disarticulated in the Northern Zone were led by women.

Upala. A criminal network offered sexual services of Nicaraguans for ¢13,000 colones (US$23 dollars) per session. Among the six women rescued from the gang was a minor. In their home country, they were offered work as waitresses, but because of their vulnerability, once here they were forced to perform sexual acts inside and outside the workplace.

San Carlos. A woman who worked up to 17 hours a day, was not allowed to talk to her family in Guatemala, did not receive a salary and did not have a set time for meals or any insurance.

It is presumed that the leader of the gang contacted indigenous women and brought them to the country to sell handicrafts.

So far this year, authorities have dismantled more than 5 groups linked to such cases, especially on the northern and southern borders of Costa Rica.

The former director of immigration, Gisela Yockchen, described the situation in the country as very serious. “The situation of human trafficking, illicit trafficking and commercial and sexual exploitation of children is serious and is a threat to Costa Rica and the entire world,” said the official.

Yockchen explained that organized crime has managed to attack vulnerable populations and takes advantage of poverty conditions of people who are deceived and end up being victims of one of the most nefarious crimes.

With notes from Crhoy.com and Fundacion Rahab.