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The Woman who Survived the Aftershocks of Criticism

By Arianna McKinney

On September 5th, when the municipal building started shaking and glass started falling around her, Vice Mayor Adriana Rodriguez Cardenas knew this was it: the big earthquake that had been predicted.

She had been to training sessions and knew that in the days just before the event a series of small tremors had beenbuilding up. She was nervous, knowing what a great responsibility she had as vice mayor and coordinator of the Municipal Emergencies Commission.

As she was evacuating the second floor of the municipal building, which is now closed off due to damage from the earthquake, a piece of ceiling tile fell on her head and she started bleeding, but she wasn’t worried about that. With communications cut off, her first priority was to get to the fire station where she could communicate by radio and begin to coordinate emergency response. 

In the two intense weeks that followed, Adriana and a team of about 30 people plus 15 engineers and geologists worked day and night to evaluate damages and coordinate aid. Adrenaline was high, and for the first couple of nights she didn’t sleep, working on maintaining a control of data. By day four, she started feeling sick under so much stress, but she pushed through it and says she feels satisfied and confident in the job done by her and her team, despite criticisms.

For one brief moment, the stress accumulated during several days of hard work and almost no sleep became overwhelming during a meeting with more than 100 people in
Samara held on September 10.

After listening to the criticisms of one woman in the audience, Adriana sat at a table in the dimly lit back corner of the community hall and started to cry.  A couple of people noticed and drew close and offered words of comfort and encouragement, strengthening her to continue on with the relief work.

Vice Mayor Adriana Rodriguez sits in her former office on the second floor of the Municipal Building. The earthquake on September 5th caused damage to the structure and shattered windows.

One challenge in an emergency, and one of the biggest sources of criticism, is deciding how to prioritize who receives aid and the kind of aid they receive, Adriana noted, as some people take advantage of the emergency to ask for help. Other criticism comes from people who don’t understand how the commission functions, perhaps not understanding how to report damage to their homes or claiming that the commission didn’t come to help them when in reality an institution that forms part of the commission, such as Red Cross, the Public Force, the Minsitry of Health or the Mixed Institute of Social Help (IMAS—Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social), did visit them. 

During the emergency, Adriana said she and others on the team made a lot of personal sacrifices, giving up time with their families. Adriana, who grew up in La Mansion of Nicoya, is part of a very united family, but except for a couple of quick phone calls to make sure they were okay, she didn’t actually get to see her relatives until four days later. 

Adriana describes her hometown, La Mansion, as a place where people like to participate in the democratic process without asking for anything in return. Because of this, she grew up with an interest in politics. As a youth, Adriana said she was inspired when Oscar Arias won the Nobel Peace Prize, and more recently was further inspired when for the first time Costa Rica elected a woman as president.

As a woman involved in politics herself, Adriana believes that women are more focused on process, planning and detail and said the job is easier when you know what you’re doing and have people near you that you can count on when you have doubts. 

A few years ago she was a candidate for councilwoman but lost. Later she had the opportunity to be on the National Liberation party’s ballot as vice mayor for the Canton of Nicoya, and this time won. Adriana has been vice mayor for about two years now and has four years to go. 

Although she has an idea of what she might like to do after her term ends, she didn’t want to reveal her plans yet, but assured that she wants to continue working for the communities and the canton.  Since she and her husband of seven years, Oscar Araya Leal, don’t yet have children, she said she wants to take advantage of this time to give the best of herself to the communities. 


More Community News

Consumer Commission Fines Samara Hotel for Not Including Taxes in Advertisement

The Technical Support Unit for the National Consumer’s Commission has issued a fine to the hotel “Villas Playa Samara,” for alleged false advertising.

New Nicoya Library Inaugurated

Nicoyans came out by the dozens to celebrate, together with teachers, students and stakeholders, the inauguration of a new library for the city this past Thursday November 15th.

Families Inside Refuge in Peladas Can Get Hooked Up to Water Service

On Tuesday, November 13th, neighbors that live within the refuge area of Playa Peladas started digging trenches to install water pipes, with help from AyA and the Nosara Development Association.

Chopping Down the Guanacaste Tree in the Heart of Nicoya Outrages Many
Minicipalidad said that
tree impeded construction of the new plaza

The broad leafy branches of a Guanacaste tree that provided shade for decades in Nicoya's park in front of the historic colonial church has been chopped down, saddening many for the loss of a tree that symbolizes the culture of Guanacaste and Costa Rica.

Letter to the Editor
A Story About Nosara's Beach Attack Dogs

It was after the attack by a large black dog that bit the back of my sandal as I tried to pedal my bicycle faster that I decided I was not going to be the hunted anymore. I had been chased a half dozen times and I was going to fight back! So I armed myself with a stick.

Google More Popular than Books at School Libraries
MEP Aims to Transform School Libraries into Resource Centers

The Google Internet search engine has become the best friend of students when doing homework. Since the speed of searching for content in digital texts is more comfortable for students than hunting amongst various books for the information they need, the number of visits made to school libraries has decreased notably.

Santo Domingo’s New ASADA Board Considering Options for More Water

Santo Domingo finally has a new board of directors for their ASADA (Water Administration Association), and the new board will continue efforts to obtain a new water source that can supply the community with sufficient water during dry season.

New Police Patrol Vehicle Already Damaged
Nosara Development Association Requested that the Driver be Transferred

Just after President Laura Chinchilla’s visit to Nicoya for the Annexation Celebration on July 25th, Noasra received a brand new patrol vehicle, giving a facelift to the appearance of the Nosara Public Force.

CREAR Hosts Club for Samara Kids

After giving the park in Cantarrana a facelift, CREAR now hosts Kid’s Club there Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. Each day has a theme.

Unsung Heroes of the Earthquake

Moved by the stressful situations of many families after the September 5th earthquake, several locals have stepped up to offer their time and their resources to help.

Tune into Radio Samara

Samara now has its own internet-based radio station, known as Radio Samara, with two local radio personalities using the on-air names of Raul and Dave (not their real names). The radio station was launched at the beginning of September with 30 days of nonstop music with no repeats and no commercials.

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