Campur village before and after the flood.
“My house has been left under water… With my family we took refuge in a neighboring community that gave us a little place, but there where we settled down a water birth appeared. So, once again we are looking for a place to stay…” This is the story of my friend Mario Yat, Q’echi Mayan, father of two daughters, in Campur, Carchá, Alta Verapaz, 300 km from the capital city of Guatemala.
Hurricanes Eta and Iota wreaked havoc on the already difficult daily lives of the indigenous people and farmers of Central America.
The town of Campur, where some 3500 Q’echis lived, is now a lagoon whose water, far from lowering its level, continues to rise. Even after the hurricanes departed a few days ago.
Its inhabitants, refugees in the surrounding mountains, are transported to the only end of the road, sailing over their houses, churches, schools, in boats that they did not have before. A few days ago, Carlos Quip, drowned in his attempt to cross Campur, the firemen divers found his body on the second floor of a house under water…
Not only did the indigenous families lose everything, but there is no major support from the central government to drain the lagoon with machinery.
Overabundance of rainfall in Central America, drought in South America
Quechua farmer weeps as he watches his crop die.
While the recent abundant rainfall is drowning hundreds of people in Central America, in South America, many others are dying of thirst and hunger because there is no rain. This is happening at the same time, on the same Continent.
In the fertile valleys where the imposing Aymara and Quechua civilizations flourished, now, hundreds of people, especially children, are on pilgrimage in the dusty hills “calling to the deities for the return of the raindrops in their own languages”.
According to NASA publications, in 2020 South America will experience the second most infernal drought of the present millennium. This explains the recent Dantean forest fires in the Amazon.
The lands of the Mayan civilizations and the lands of the Andean civilizations are different, not only in hydrometeorology, but also in their fertility. But, now, the erratic behavior of Mother Rain, sister to both territories in their shared misfortune. Here we die of drowning, and there they die of thirst. Why does this occur? Is it a divine design? NO.
Mother Earth lost control of her self-regulation of temperature. While in the Atlantic and Caribbean seas heat increases, evaporating water and activating hurricanes, generating heavy rains that reach Central America, in the Pacific Ocean low temperatures prevent water evaporation and cause lack of rain. For example, the La Niña phenomenon has just begun in South America, and will generate rainfall in the northern part of the Amazon and drought in the far south.
A year ago, as in these months, I witnessed the hardships of Q’echis Mayan families suffering from a hellish drought in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. At that time, faced with the death of rivers and lakes, without rain, Mayan families would make a pilgrimage, candles and copal in hand, to their sacred places to ask their deities for the return of water. They never imagined that a year later, in the same months, the rain would take away everything they had!
When I was a child, I ran along the steep roads and paths of the Surandino, crying out in Quechua for the return of the rain that was slow in coming… It is a never ending story, but one that does end many times with us… How can we explain this? What can we do to prevent it?
San Pedro Sula. Honduras. Under water.
In both South and Central America, the material and symbolic impacts of the COVID pandemic19 increase the unimaginable consequences of the behaviour of water on the living conditions and livelihoods of indigenous and stateless peasant families.
The governments and States of the countries impacted by these repeated deadly phenomena have neither the capacity nor the political will to respond, much less to prevent or mitigate such impacts.
Governments like that of Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Brazil…, drowning in corruption scandals… allocate public budgets to protect the private business sector… Agricultural producers, indigenous or not, can only continue to cry for mercy to the distant Heaven that is slow to listen.
Translation by Internationalist 360°