BRAZIL: Tsunami Fizzles
on Copacabana Beach
RIO DE JANEIRO - The giant waves
that killed more than 150,000 people around the Indian
Ocean reached this Brazilian coastal city, but had
been reduced to small waves some 20 hours after the
underwater earthquake the triggered the tragedy on
Mitigated by a journey of more than 15,000 km, and
imperceptible on the open sea, what had been a giant
tsunami wave in India and Indonesia was just 40 cm
high when it entered Guanabara Bay, according to Paulo
Cesar Rosman, oceanic engineering professor at the
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
Oceanographic institutions, as well as some coastal
towns, reported ''atypical tides'', with rapid increases
above the normal level, at several points ranging
from Brazil's south to northeast. At the pier of a
nautical club near Rio de Janeiro there was a variation
of 1.6 meters in 17 minutes. The abnormal tide flooded
50 homes of fisherfolk living nearby.
GUATEMALA: A Green Belt
for the Capital
GUATEMALA CITY - Officials in
the Guatemalan capital are seeking a way to create
a ''green belt'' to improve the environment and the
flow of water through the city.
The aim is to recover 90 percent of the remaining
vegetation cover, made up of ravines and rivers around
the capital, the municipal government's environmental
director, Susana Acencio, told Tierramérica.
''The ravines to the south of the valley hold approximately
12,500 hectares, most of which is well preserved,
because there are not yet any human settlements there,''
The first step will be to create a geographic information
system about the areas that will comprise the green
belt. The second will be to design a management plan,
which will include reforestation and decontaminating
The municipality of Santa Catalina Pinula, adjacent
to Guatemala City, will spend 390,000 dollars to recuperate
and reforest the Pinula River basin, one of the sources
of potable water for the more than two million residents
of the capital.
COSTA RICA: Prevention
Plans Come Up Short
MEXICO CITY - The torrential
rains that hit Costa Rica last week, killing two people
and causing economic losses that will surpass 20 million
dollars, demonstrated the fragility of the country's
disaster prevention systems, admitted an official
''We have an emergency network and we have educated
the population on how to deal with them, but phenomena
like (the heavy rains) reveal that we still have a
lot to do,'' Lidier Esquivel, disaster management
director for the Costa Rican National Risk Prevention
Commission, told Tierramérica.
The Caribbean coast, affected by serious environmental
problems, received a month's worth of rain in just
''It was very difficult to anticipate the problem,
because we didn't expect that volume of rain. However,
also lacking was a more effective response from the
population,'' Esquivel said in a phone interview from
CHILE: Cellulose Plant
SANTIAGO - The regional environmental
commission, COREMA, of Biobío, in southern Chile,
ordered a stop to the construction of the Itata cellulose
plant, which was designed for a production volume
greater than what was authorized, as environmental
groups denounced two months ago.
Itata, 480 km south of Santiago, is the property of
Celulosa Arauco y Constitución (CELCO), of the Angelini
Group, accused of causing a die-off of black-necked
swans in the Río Cruces nature sanctuary in the southern
province of Valdivia, from contamination caused by
another cellulose plant.
The regional governor of Biobío, Jaime Tohá, explained
to Tierramérica that CELCO had drastically modified
the project proposal the firm had presented to COREMA,
increasing its production forecast from 550,000 tons
per year to 856,000 tons.
CUBA: Bays Increasingly
HAVANA - Contamination from organic
waste in Cuba's bays increased 2.3 percent during
2004, in contrast to a decline of 3.6 percent of the
waste burden received by the island's eight main basins.
Reports from the Ministry of Sciences, Technology
and Environment cited among the most contaminated
Cárdenas Bay, 120 km from Havana, and those of Puerto
Padre and Nipe, both in the east.
Cuba has some 20 bays, which serve as valuable natural
resources. According to official studies, the waters
of Havana Bay still show negative conditions, although
the burden of 51,741 kg of organic material it receives
daily is 63 percent less than the daily total in 1998.
Contamination is one of the main problems afflicting
the marine environment and coastline in Cuba, along
with erosion and increasing salinity.
VENEZUELA: Shrimp Granted
a Visa for U.S.A.
CARACAS - The United States has
lifted a ban that since the late 1990s prohibited
entry of shrimp from Venezuela, saying the South American
country now meets the international requirements for
protecting sea turtles that accidentally get caught
in the fishing nets.
''Now the shrimp nets have a sort of skylight, an
elimination system that allows the turtles to escape.
This prevents them from asphyxiating,'' Enzo Racca,
of the governmental National Fishing Institute, told
''Recovering the U.S. market has been a struggle.
Now we hope to strengthen the connection, including
other marine species,'' said Racca.
Venezuela produces around 15,000 tons of shrimp a
year. Commercial shrimping is one of the most important
fishing industries for Venezuela. Before this country
exported 18 million dollars worth of shrimp to the
United States annually.