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 infecting, harming and killing more people who live day to day, year to year, in vulnerable conditions of exploitation and poverty, discrimination and abandonment. We encourage folks (in a position to do so) to support Rights Action’s COVID response work. We are concerned by now-even-more precarious living conditions of partner communities in Honduras and Guatemala – all endemically impoverished to begin with, a majority being Indigenous.
We are concerned by the precarious conditions 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 have been ‘criminalized’; many are illegally detained in unsanitary, crowded detention centers, jails and ad hoc camps in Mexico and the U.S.
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 that Rights Action supports in Honduras and Guatemala, who are now in precarious refugee conditions in the U.S. or along the U.S.-Mexican border.
Community organizations are using funds to:
· Educate about seriousness of COVID pandemic, particularly as government and media information sources are of little to no use for poor majority.
· Educate about primary importance of social isolation and 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. Urgent needs:
· 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.