People help to move an older adult due to the lack of roads that connect to the Palo Grande village, in Chiantla. (Free Press Photo)
While the deputies in the Congress of the Republic discuss what is the best way to approve the extension of the state of Calamity to ensure that the resources are well used, the 135 communities that remain isolated count the days that they have food left.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen now, it’s going to be hard for us this Christmas,” says William Mérida, a primary education teacher from the Palo Grande village in Chiantla, one of the villages that was left without communication due to the destruction of the I walk through the landslides caused by Storm Iota on November 19.
Despite the fact that food has been flown to them twice, supplies are running out. Community stores are out of stock and crops are dead due to flooding.
By streamlining their food to the maximum, William says they have food for eight or ten days. As of December 14, it is almost impossible to visualize how the 160 families that live there will eat if the help does not arrive.
This community is the farthest from Huehuetenango, it is 205 kilometers from the departmental head and more than a day’s walk. Without landslides, it is 17 hours of travel, but now that the mountain has split and blocked the passage, it is a 30-hour journey. Of this, the last hours must be done on foot, making our way through the jungle.
“Here the landslides begin like ten minutes from the community. Now we are between ravines, the destruction quite large, “adds William.
Although the restoration of the roads is urgent, the people resigned themselves to the fact that they will not be able to communicate by land for another two months, so Sergio Alonzo, from the Association of Organizations of the Cuchumatanes (Asocuch) asks that the airlift to keep the communities supplied.
However, the cold fronts that remain in the country do not help to enable these air bridges, explains David de León, spokesman for the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conred).
De León said that the suspension of aid via helicopters depends exclusively on the weather, so he could not say what day the flights could be re-established.
For his part, Alonzo also asks that the food sent be rice, corn, beans, sugar and drinking water. “The food that entered was very basic, the bags came with chocolate milk, but they wanted corn or solid things that could fill them,” he explains.
Alonzo mentions that the situation in the north of Huehuetenango is critical. The few communities that had electric power were left without this service and, he mentions, that the telephone masts also began to fail.
“The central government has not measured the magnitude of what is happening in the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes,” he mentions when explaining that the people are desperate and that they have decided to start opening roads with their hands so that a vehicle can pass “.
But the situation in the 15 villages that remain isolated in Huehuetenango is not unrelated to the more than 150 communities in Alta Verapaz, Quiché and Izabal that have remained in the same conditions for more than two weeks, according to the Committee for the Relief of Hunger Oxfam.
To be heard, community leaders from Campur, Alta Verapaz, had to travel to the capital this week to ask the central government to relocate the 470 families who were left homeless.
The landscape in Campur, made up of 88 villages, changed from being a living community with local businesses and housing, to a dead lagoon. The people in the place resigned themselves to the fact that the water will not go down, they observed how new water sources have been created and now they are only transported by boats.
“In some parts the water is going down, but in the very center of the community where all the shops and businesses are located, the water rises between 50 and 60 centimeters every night and does not go down,” said Sebastián Chub, who tells how close to his house a waterfall came out.
“There is no possibility of draining the water, where my house is a waterfall came out. There is a tower of Tigo that was flooded, you can only see four steps, “he added.
According to the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conred), there are 1 million 794 thousand 671 people affected by storms Eta and Iota. In addition, there are 135 isolated villages that should receive priority aid when the extension of the state of Calamity is approved.