The parents of the victims of the rafting accident in Quepos last month are (again) in Costa Rica, wanting explanations from the Government.
Three of the parents, Ernesto Sierra and his wife Margarita Estrada (parents of Ernesto Sierra) and Javier Caso (father of Jose Caso) met on Wednesday with President Carlos Alvarado because they want to expose their situation.
They also visited the Fiscalía (Prosecutor’s Office), the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) – the Judicial Investigation Agency – and the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) – Tourism Institute, to get answers about the death of their children.
However, none were to be had.
This was their third visit to Costa Rica since the accident. They affirm that the ICT and Tourism Minister, María Amalia Revelo, have been unable to give a reason for the absence of the regulations and controls that apply to adventure tourism.
In an interview with local television news, Telenoticias, Javier said his questions were met by “smiles” by some authorities, a situation very unusual and unnerving to him, he explained.
On October 20, Ernesto, Jose, Sergio Lorenzo, and Andrés Dennis were among a group of 18 friends and family in Costa Rica celebrating a bachelor party of Luis Beltrán, Lorenzo’s brother. The four lost their lives while rafting in the río Naranjito, near Quepos.
Their local tour guide, Kevin Thompson Reid, was the fifth victim.
Full of doubts
Ernesto Sierra insisted that they have not been able to get answers from the highest tourist authorities in the country. Sierra reiterated his disappointment so far and that they are respectful of the criminal investigations.
“It’s been one month and the pressure from us is aimed at finding answers and they have not even mobilized as a government to investigate administratively why adventure tourism fails and resulting in a crisis like this, with 5 people dead,” said Sierra.
“Something is happening. The government promoting that young people from all over the world come to Costa Rica, where there is really a security crisis in these activities. We must work to resolve this crisis and then continue promoting tourism,” said the father of the victim.
The three are emphatic that theirs is not an attack on the country as a destination for foreign tourists, rather a crusade for the country to take more forceful actions. “We ask that they regulate, control and prosecute an activity that puts people’s lives at risk,” Sierra added.
Javier Caso said that “it is not about imposing laws on a country or putting pressure on it. We have not found an answer. We see a vacuum of regulation, security measures, training in the guides and a lack of rescue plans.”
The victim’s father pointed to a lack of coordination between the ICT and the Ministry of Health on responsibilities to monitor the operation of adventure companies.
Since, Costa Rican authorities have raided the offices of the Quepos Expeditions company, but have been able to provide few details or comfort to the families.