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Costa Rica: After the Earthquake

Categories: Latin America, Costa Rica, Disaster, Humanitarian Response

Costa Rica earthquake sign [1]A week has passed since the 6.2 Earthquake in Costa Rica, and on blogger and twitter people have been commenting on the aftermath, analyzing the relief efforts, the rescue operations and the media's coverage of the events.

Blogger and journalist Cristian Cambronero of Fusil de Chispas [2] has been updating regularly on different topics related to the quake. On one of the blog posts, he summarizes his perception of the good, the bad and the ugly: [3]

Para formular un juicio habría que tener en cuenta un sinfín de elementos: las declaraciones [4] del presidente Arias, y su actitud reacia a solicitar ayuda internacional [5] (los países están perdiendo plata, no los vamos a molestar por unos muertos, ¿era así?), el circo [6] protagonizado por la Ministra de Inseguridad, la falta de aeronaves disponibles, la descoordinación entre instituciones (muy evidente en las declaraciones e informes de víctimas), la tardanza (creo que excesiva) en la declaratoria de emergencia nacional [7] y duelo, etc.

To make judgement we would have to take into account a variety of elements: President Arias’ declarations [4] and his reluctance towards asking international aid [5] (the countries are losing money, we won't bother them for a few dead, wasn't it?), the circus [6] starred by the Minister of Insecurity, the lack of available aircrafts, the lack of coordination among institutions (very evident in the declaration and victim reports), the delay (I believe it was excessive) in declaring a national emergency [7] and duel, etc.

He also mentions how it seems that because Costa Rica has no army, it is very weak regarding emergency response, since in other countries the responsibility usually falls on the army or other military groups. Currently, the government even needs to rent a helicopter when emergency strikes.

Mujer de Maíz [8] writes about some positive effects that this tragedy has brought:

Me ha alegrado, como a casi todos creo yo, que nuestro pueblo (tan dormido a veces) se haya despabilado para ayudar, con lo que sea: cocinando, llevando comida, aportando artículos de limpieza, yendo con cuadraciclos, sacando gente y animales de la montaña (el mae que salio con una cabrita ayer, que tierno!), donando su tiempo, dinero y entusiasmo para hacer mejor la vida de otros. Es de aplaudir…

I'm glad, like most everyone else as well, that our people (sometimes so passive) have come to action to help with whatever they can: cooking, taking food, providing cleaning products, taking their ATVs, bringing out people and animals from the mountains (the guy who came out with a little goat kid, how cute!), donating their time, money and enthusiasm to make other's lives better. It is to be applauded…

Jaguar del Platanar [9]tells us of efforts in the North of Costa Rica to collect donations, but not for the area near the epicenter, but for the areas downriver, who suffered extensive flooding. The area of Sarapiquí depends on the river for their income, so they need help as well. He posted the invitation from Norteenlínea.com [10] through their videoblog [11] and then posted the results [12] of the food drive in Ciudad Quesada for Sarapiquí. In La Fortuna of San Carlos a similar effort was made, as written by Melissa Soro in her blog. [13]

Julia Ardón [14], blogger and photographer who has a restaurant very near the epicenter of the earthquake, has also been organizing food and clothing drives, first to make sure her employees were safe and were taken care of, and now taking care of other families in the area, asking for donations for specific families in need [15]. Her brother, who also has a restaurant in the area is also helping, both of them are facing extensive reconstruction for the restaurants, Julia's will probably take 3 months to reopen and her brother's could reopen this weekend. One of the points Julia has made is that what the area needs is for people to visit once again and spend their money and get the people in the communities back to work, since the area depends on tourism for their income.

As time passes, more people are uploading videos from the earthquake, and others are sending their videos to TV stations to broadcast. The following two videos correspond to a security camera in an office building [16], and the taping of a tv show [17]as the earthquake struck:

There are many families that still need help, and death tolls are higher than what has been internationally reported. There are still many people missing, and as bodies are found, the toll rises. It is currently around 23 dead and 11 missing. For donations, based on Fusil de Chispas [18]‘ list:

Banco de Costa Rica [19] | account number: 001-250-0 | SINPE 15201001000025008 | BCR

From overseas: Beneficiary Bank Name: Banco de Costa Rica, SWIFT: BCRICRSJ | BCR doubles every donation received.
BAC San José [20] | account number: 908524192 | SINPE: 1020000-9085241925
Banco Nacional [21] | colones account 100 01 000 043517-2 | dollars account 100 02 000 616147-5
Banco Popular [22] | account 161-010084-1000911-4