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close this bookA World Safe from Natural Disasters - The Journey of Latin America and the Caribbean (PAHO-OPS, 1994, 111 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentAcknowledgements
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 1: No shortcuts to disaster reduction
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 2: An overview of the region
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 3: What puts Latin America and the Caribbean at risk?
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 4: The wake-up call: From improvisation to response planning
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 5: Disaster preparedness takes center stage
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 6: One step ahead of disasters: Mitigation and prevention
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 7: Looking toward the future
View the documentReferences
View the documentAcronyms


A myriad of people, initiatives and projects have fashioned the disaster management programs in this Region. No single agency or expert can possibly have an overall view of the multisectoral field of disaster prevention, mitigation, and preparedness. This publication attempts to outline broad trends and highlight the most significant events that have marked the long journey of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean toward safety from disasters. Unfortunately, most of these significant events have been tragedies that caused loss of life and property - tragedies that were preventable.

This document is the result of a collaborative effort of the staff of the IDNDR Office for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief Coordination Program of PAHO/WHO. They have been assisted by literally hundreds of officials in the countries, experts, and representatives of agencies who dedicated their time and effort, provided data and documentation, met with consultants and laboriously reviewed the draft circulated at the Inter-American Conference in Cartagena, Colombia, in March, 1994. Every effort has been made to acknowledge specific sources of information. We apologize should any contributor or contribution not be properly recognized.

Again, without the support and cooperation of disaster experts and officials throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, the United Nations system, and bilateral and regional organizations, neither the progress achieved toward disaster reduction in Latin America and the Caribbean during the last 15 years nor, consequently, this book would have been possible.

Claude de Ville de Goyet


This book is dedicated to the scientists who lost their lives in the eruption of the Galeras Volcano, one of the seven "Volcanoes of the Decade", in Colombia in 1993, as well as to the nationals in Latin America and the Caribbean who have enthusiastically dedicated their professional lives to promoting disaster prevention and preparedness in their countries.


When I arrived in Curacautin it was raining ash because the volcanoes willed it.

I had to detour to Talca where they had grown so wide, those tranquil rivers of Maule, that I fell asleep on a boat and went to Valparaíso.

In Valparaíso the houses were falling around me and I ate breakfast in the wreckage of my lost library between a surviving Baudelaire and a dismantled Cervantes.

... I made my bed next to a river that carried more stones than water, next to some serene oaks, far from every city, next to stones that were singing, and finally I was able to sleep in peace in certain terror of a star that was watching me and winking with a certain malignant insistence.

But the gentle morning painted the black night blue and the enemy stars were swallowed by light while I sang peacefully with no catastrophe and no guitar.


From The Yellow Heart © 1974 by Pablo Neruda.
Translation © 1990 by William O'Daly Reprinted by permission Copper Canyon Press, Port Townsend, WA.