The Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project has posted numerous articles on its Facebook page about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Guatemala.
Those articles that provide context include: The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food (MAGA) continues to ignore peasant demands and has zero execution in chronic malnutrition, The hardest part of the food crisis is yet to come to the Dry Corridor and In Patzún they cannot follow the advice of the WHO, there is no water.
Now, Al Jazeera reports, “In normal circumstances, Guatemala’s healthcare system in rural areas is ‘appalling’, said a doctor in the Guatemalan Department of Alta Verapaz, but in the time of the coronavirus pandemic, it is even worse.”
“Rural and Indigenous communities across Guatemala are increasingly concerned about the spread of coronavirus, questioning whether the country’s already fragile healthcare system could adequately respond.”
“Guatemala remains a largely rural country, with 46 percent of the population living in rural communities, according to the 2018 census. The majority of these rural residents are members of the Indigenous Xinca, Garifuna, and 22 different Maya groups.”
That article adds, “Indigenous populations have historically faced discrimination in Guatemala. More than 80 percent of the victims of human rights abuses during the country’s 36-year-long internal armed conflict were Indigenous.”
“Indigenous residents also suffer from high rates of the factors that are considered by the World Health Organization to increase vulnerability to the novel coronavirus.”
PBI-Guatemala has also posted on its Facebook page an article titled: Interview with Lolita Chávez. Human Rights and Life in Times of Crisis.
In that article, Chávez says, “Racisms generate other oppressions so we demand that also those comforts that millionaires have that can also be redistributed, from the banks, in the towns, in the territories to recover the lands to recover food sovereignty, health sovereignty also from our cosmogony, that they do not see us only as a landscape we are not part of the landscape, we are defenders of the territories.”
Chávez is with the K’iche Peoples Council (CPK) who PBI-Guatemala has accompanied since September 2013. PBI-Guatemala explains this is because “CPK members have received threats and attacks, in particular their leader Lolita Chávez.”
Earlier this month, PBI-Guatemala stated: “The PBI team remains present in the country and has adapted its work according to the restrictions declared by the Guatemalan government in response to the COVID19 pandemic.”
In its most recent Monthly Information Package, PBI-Guatemala highlights it has either strengthened or maintained telephone contact with the human rights defenders it accompanies including those with: the Community Council of the Highlands (CCDA) – Las Verapaces Region, the Union of Peasant Organizations (UVOC), the New Day Chorti Campesino Central Coordinator (CCCND), the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya, the Peaceful Resistance of La Laguna, and the Peaceful Resistance Cahabón (Alta Verapaz).
For more, please be sure to visit the PBI-Guatemala Facebook page.