Debunking nuclear myths in Costa Rica

June 20, 2013

By Carlos Umana Silesky

This past May, IPPNW Costa Rica was excited to welcome Ward Wilson, scholar and nuclear myth-debunker extraordinaire, to San José for a 10-day visit. Mr Wilson is the author of the compelling 5 Myths About Nuclear Weapons , which comprehensively takes down the most prominent fallacies about nuclear weapons put forth by proponents of the status quo.

Mr Wilson presented his work, with his characteristically engaging flair, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Costa Rica, the National Assembly, the University for Peace, the University of Costa Rica, the Latin American Center for Democratic Studies, a national meeting with all the mayors, the National Psychiatric Hospital and a large metropolitan health clinic. His whirlwind tour also included being interviewed by two major TV stations, three major newspapers, several radio interviews and a special meeting with former President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Óscar Arias who agreed to participate in ICAN’s Share Your Shadow initiative.

The meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was attended by several ambassadors and featured a speech from Minister Enrique Castillo Barrantes, as well as our own Co-President, Alexandra Arce.

Another highlight of Mr Wilson’s visit was Costa Rica’s first Target X [linkto Project X], which was held centrally in downtown San José. With a huge, eye-catching ‘X’ (representing ground zero) cut from bright red fabric on the ground, a banner depicting the destruction brought to bear on San José should a nuclear weapon ever to be detonated there, and brochures with information about the humanitarian consequences distributed to the on-lookers, we were able to generate a lot of interest and make nuclear weapons more relevant from a personal perspective. Especially effective in attracting and engaging the public was the idea to take people’s blood pressure. As people lined up to get checked, we were able to explain and discuss the nuclear weapons issues at length. Finally, our staged “die-outs”, which incorporated the acts of street performers, were very visual, attracted a lot of questions from the public, and, needless to say, we all quite enjoyed screaming and throwing ourselves dramatically to the ground.

As for the next steps, IPPNW Costa Rica is planning a similar event for Nuclear Abolition Week and for Hiroshima Memorial Day, in addition to a regional IPPNW conference later this year. Stay tuned!

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