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Profile: Salvano Briceno
Positions that Salvano Briceno has held:
- Director of UN's International Secretariat for Disaster Reduction
Salvano Briceno was a participant or observer in the following events:
Hurricane Ivan, a Category 5 storm, sideswipes the western tip of Cuba. The Cuban government, which says it has been preparing for a storm of this magnitude for the last 45 years, successfully evacuates between 1.5 and 1.9 million of its residents—more than 13 percent of its entire population—to shelters at higher ground. The entire evacuation takes 72 hours and utilizes every truck and bus available. All the shelters “have medical personnel, from the neighborhood,” according to Dr. Nelson Valdes, a sociology professor at the University of New Mexico, and specialist in Latin America. They also evacuate animals and veterinarians, TV sets and refrigerators “so that people aren’t reluctant to leave because people might steal their stuff,” he says. Though 20,000 homes are destroyed, there is not a single fatality from the storm. [MSNBC, 9/17/2004; United Kingdom, 10/1/2004; Truthout (.org), 9/3/2005] The United Nations International Secretariat for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) later cites Cuba as a model for hurricane preparation. ISDR director Salvano Briceno says, “The Cuban way could easily be applied to other countries with similar economic conditions and even in countries with greater resources that do not manage to protect their population as well as Cuba does.” A UN press release, summarizing the country’s hurricane preparation program, says: “Disaster preparedness, prevention and response are part of the general education curriculum. People in schools, universities and workplaces are continuously informed and trained to cope with natural hazards. From their early age, all Cubans are taught how to behave as hurricanes approach the island. They also have, every year, a two-day training session in risk reduction for hurricanes, complete with simulation exercises and concrete preparation actions. This facilitates the mobilization of their communities at the local level when a hurricane hits Cuba.”
[United Nations, 9/14/2004; Seven Oaks, 9/21/2004]
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