In the early 1970’s, a Costa Rican man, Roberto Sevilla, left his country to follow his dream of living in the United States. He did not miss a single detail of the inauguration of the magical Twin Towers in 1972 (North Tower) and 1973 (South Tower). Soon afterwards, he started working in the World Trade Center, where he became a supervisor in an office supply company.
The day of the attacks, Roberto happened to be in the basement in one of the towers where he worked. He was having his morning coffee while reading The New York Times, when he suddenly heard a huge roar. He quickly got up, and tried to reach the building lobby, which became a very difficult task, as he found himself suffering from a sudden asthma attack. When he finally made it to the lobby, and went outside, he could not believe what his eyes were seeing: dozens of bodies falling from above… Roberto ran that day as he had never run before. A few blocks down, he saw as a second plane crashed against the South Tower, and, a little bit further down, watched as the offices where he worked for so many years fell to the ground.
On this day in 2001, the iconic Twin Towers were destroyed at the hands of terrorists. The Pentagon was seriously damaged, and a total of almost 3,000 people died, and nearly 6,000 were injured. The entire world was shaken, scared, and stunned by the horrifying event.
The feeling was not an exception in the heart of the Ticos. Watching those two planes crash against the mighty Twin Towers, seeing how dozens of people jumped from above, and the way those two buildings, in a matter of seconds, collapsed into the ground, still gives Costa Ricans a feeling of anguish that weighs heavily in their hearts.
Two Costa Ricans lost their loved ones in this sad event. Sylvia Loria Quiros, married to Kevin Connors, an American who worked on the 84th floor of the South Tower, was one of them. Kevin’s body was buried in the debris. His body was never found. The other was Gladys Meza, the mother of a brave police officer, Jerome Dominguez. Jerome was an officer working for the New York Emergency Unit, and, although he was working in another emergency at the time, the moment he found out about the incident, he quickly moved to the scene in order to help. Police officers who survived say that Jerome did not want to abandon the buildings, even after orders were given to do so.
Other Costa Ricans were close to the event, some closer than others. Karla Pericon, who worked on the 11th floor in the North Tower was in her office when the first plane crashed. She was able to leave the building safely.
Pilar Madrigal, who was working for CINDE ( Costa Rican Coalition Initiative for Development) , was travelling in the subway train when the first explosion occurred. She got off the train one station before her final destination, the World Trade Center, as someone on the speaker said something like “smoke in the Twin Towers block.” As she came out from the station, she watched in complete astonishment as the second plane crashed against the South Tower.
Like them, many other Costa Ricans suffered from the events of 9/11 in other ways. 11 years ago, an approximate 60,000 Ticos lived in New York. A year later, 3,000 families had abandoned the country and returned to Costa Rica for fear of more attacks.
Many lives have been changed and scarred for life. Some have been more affected than others. However, 11 years later, there is still a general feeling across the country in regards to these events – Costa Ricans become sad, scared, and angry when 9/11 is mentioned.
Today, Costa Ricans and U.S. citizens will gather at a small park in Sabana Norte to mark the tragedy that changed their lives.
The Marine Corps League will be conducting a ceremony at 11 a.m., in which United States embassy staff will be attending, as well as members of veteran groups.
The park, called”11 de Setiembre” was named after the date of the tragic event. It is located 200 meters north of Subway, east of the ICE building.