San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Thousands of students say ‘no’ to drugs at Red Ribbon Week

More than 3,000 students from west San José participated in the closing ceremony of a weeklong drug prevention program Friday morning. The U.S. Embassy, in conjunction with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, partnered with grade schools in the Pavas Municipality for the 2011 Semana del Lazo Rojo, or Red Ribbon Week, at the National Stadium.

U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica Anne Slaughter Andrew called Red Ribbon Week a terrific program focused on preventing kids from using drugs.

This is the fifth year that Costa Rica has taken part in the event, observed during the last week of October. Throughout the week, students joined in cultural and anti-drug activities and played sports. The event honors U.S. DEA agent Enrique Kiki Camarena, who was killed in 1985 by Mexican drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero.

“If there are drugs, there is no pura vida,” said Geneva “Mika” Camarena, Kiki Camarena’s widow, to the crowd of young people gathered in the stadium.

During the closing ceremony, students pledged to live a drug-free life by displaying anti-drug signs, chanting slogans and singing songs. Student representatives from each school received a trophy honoring their drug prevention work.

Andrew said the event was important for the future of Costa Rica as drug cartels push deeper into the isthmus.

“One of the many steps that Costa Rica needs to take is to continue to invest in education and economic opportunities for their youth and to talk honestly with them about the dangers of drugs and the value of leading a drug-free life,” Andrew said.

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