San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Gallardo to Step Down as Costa Rica Emergency Chief

Daniel Gallardo has handed in his resignation as president of the National Emergency Commission (CNE) for “health reasons and other circumstances of a personal nature,” according to a government statement, leaving a legacy that was recently tarnished after the commission’s Jan. 8 earthquake rescue efforts began to raise doubts.

The quake, centered near Poás Volcano, leveled entire towns in the provinces of Alajuela and Heredia, killing as many as 30 people. Critics, including television’s Channel 7 news, have led a charged debate to prove the commission was negligent in its response. Political opposition group the Citizen Action Party has also slammed the commission, alleging a host of inefficiencies.

On Thursday, the Presidency Ministry called an urgent meeting of CNE’s board of directors to address such allegations.

It was not clear whether the criticism led to Gallardo’s resignation at press time. Since entering with the Oscar Arias administration in 2006, Gallardo has overseen a commission that each year faces harsh rainy seasons, when the agency leads evacuation efforts when rains force rivers over their banks, flooding villages and farms.

Gallardo will officially step down April 13.


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