SOME ARE MORE VULNERABLE THAN OTHERS
In an unjust, unequal global human order, inside nations and between rich and exploited nations, many are more vulnerable than others. While the COVID-19 virus is infecting people from ‘all walks of life’, it is affecting, harming and killing more people who live day to day, year to year, in chronic conditions of exploitation and poverty, discrimination and abandonment.
We encourage folks (who are in a position to do so) to support Rights Action’s COVID response work. We are concerned by the now-even-more precarious conditions of partner communities in Honduras and Guatemala – endemically impoverished to begin with, most being Indigenous. We are concerned by the desperate condition of thousands of Guatemalans and Hondurans forced to flee into exile over the past few years by the violence, corruption and exploitation of their military-backed governments. Many forced migrants and refugees have been ‘criminalized’; many are illegally detained in unsanitary, crowded detention centers, jails and ad hoc camps in Mexico and the U.S.
It bears repetition that the Honduran and Guatemalan regimes are fully supported by the U.S. and Canadian governments, and by a multitude of global companies and investors taking advantage of the conditions of corruption and exploitation –let alone violence– to operate mines and hydro-electric dams, to produce ‘for-export’ coffee, sugarcane, African palm, bananas and pineapples, to operate garment ‘sweatshop’ factories and tourism businesses.
It is these same regimes that have little capacity and no political will to prioritize the health and well-being of a majority of their own populations.
While hoping and preparing for the best, Rights Action is fearing the worst in terms of possible outbreaks in either or both countries.
WHO ARE WE PRIORITIZING
Rights Action is sending COVID-19 response funds to community groups we have funded and worked with for many years, including people involved in land, human rights and environmental defense struggles related to mining and hydro-electric dam projects, tourism, and the ‘for export’ production of sugar cane and African palm.
INITIAL GRANTS HAVE BEEN SENT TO:
- Mayan Q’eqchi’ partners in the mining/ dams/ African palm harmed communities of eastern Guatemala
- Indigenous Garifuna partners in the tourism/ African palm/ narco-trafficking harmed communities of Honduras’ north coast
- Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals forced to flee community defense struggles, who are now in precarious refugee conditions in the U.S. or along the U.S.-Mexican border
FUNDS ARE BEING USED TO:
- Educate (in local Indigenous languages and spanish) about seriousness of COVID pandemic, particularly as government and media sources are of little to no use to poor majority
- Educate about primary importance of social isolation, cleaning hands and living spaces with soap, as much as possible
- Monitor, and limit (as possible) the coming and going of people into communities
- With maximum sanitary precaution, carry out home visits to monitor community members’ health
- Where possible, establish community locations to isolate and support community members suspected of contracting COVID
- Prioritize education and support for the elderly.
- Educate about strengthening immune systems through the use of herbal teas grown and used locally for generations
- Personal health safety equipment for community members leading community support measures
- Provision of basic foods for community members running short of survival foods
- Provision of potable water (boiled if necessary) and soap
The best solution to COVID-19, as with so many injustices, violence and inequalities plaguing the lives of so many humans, is people, communities and governments working together and collaborating to create societies and a global community based on mutual well-being and fundamental equality inside and between nations.
This is always the case.
This is what Rights Action, and our partner groups in Guatemala and Honduras, have long been working for.