Expats and diplomats gather to remember Sept. 11, 2001

The U.S. Marine color guard presented the U.S. Flag at a ceremony Sunday morning commemorated Sept. 11, 2001. In the background is the monument that is the centerpiece of the small park in Sabana Norte. Photo: AM Costa Rica

The security minister, Mario Zamora Cordero, likened drug traffickers to terrorists when he spoke to a mixed expat-Costa Rican gathering Sunday morning.

Zamora was the highest ranking government official to attend the ceremony commemorating the deaths of nearly 3,000 persons at the hands of al-Qaeda terrorists 10 years earlier. Zamora is on the front lines battling drug gangs, and he expressed concern about the development of narco states in Central American countries.

Ambassador Anne S. Andrew greets an audience member

U.S. Ambassador Anne S. Andrew correctly noted in her talk that citizens of 90 countries were among the victims of the four coordinated suicide attacks that day. She delivered her speech in Spanish and in English.

Like some of the expats in the audience, Ms. Andrew said many to whom she spoke about that day were outside the United States far from their homes and that these individuals had stories different than those who were in the States. She was speaking principally of State Department employees.

Costa Rica suffered from the attack mainly through the freeze on air transport and the impact that had on tourism.

Mario Zamora, Anne S. Andrew and Johnny Araya pause for a minute to render tribute to those who died Sept, 11, 2001. They were at a park in Sabana Norte Sunday morning. Photo: AM Costa Rica

Johnny Araya, mayor of San José also spoke. The three were at the Parque 11 de Setiembre in Sabana Norte. In concluding the ceremony, the three speakers stood in front of the monument there for the attack victims for a minute of silence.

Members of the year-old Costa Rica Detachment of the Marine Corps League and Post 10 of the American Legion from Escazú had a strong presence. There also were foreign dipomats.

The ceremony was conducted under tight security by the Fuerza Pública and the K-9 patrol.

Zamora and the ambassador headed for Juan Santamaría airport where another ceremony saw the arrival by helicopter of the image of the Virgin de Los Ángeles, the patroness of the country. The security ministry and its Dirección del Servicio de Vigilancia rendered homage to those who died in the terrorist attacks and attended a Roman Catholic Mass at a chapel at the headquarters of the aviation section.

Later Zamora told reporters that Costa Rica has one of the most secure air terminals and that this has been verified by international audits. Many of the security measures were instituted as a result of the terrorist attacks. There also was additional training, he noted.

Oldemar Madrigal Medal, director general of the ministry’s air service, said that security will be stepped up next month at Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia.

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