Guatemalan peasants’ organization says deaths from volcano eruption could have been avoided

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Nearly 100 people have died since June 3, when the  Fuego volcano erupted

Source:  ALBA Movimientos / The Dawn News / June 8, 2018

On June 3, the Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupted, leading to the death of over 100 people. This is the biggest eruption of the volcano since 1974. Even as rescue efforts continue, the toll and damage continue to rise. The Committee for Peasants’ Unity of Guatemala released the following statement in the aftermath of the tragedy.

We denounce the negligence of the authorities responsible for warning and mobilizing the population. This shows the government’s contempt towards the deprived and dispossessed population. The reports produced by the National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology (INSIVUMEH) had sufficiently anticipated the tragedy. The timely evacuation of the “La Reunion” golf resort proves that it would have been possible to relocate the population and prevent the deaths.

These facts also reveal the negligence of [Guatemalan President] Jimmy Morales, who appointed incompetent people to manage various State institutions. A closer look at those in charge of key ministries and institutions reveals that he appointed those who serve only their own interests.

We reject the claims by Morales of there not being enough funds to mount a proper response to the emergency. These statements not only display his ignorance and incapability in managing the budget but are also an insult to the Guatemalan people. We know how 29,000 Quetzals (Guatemalan currency) is spent daily on food-related expenses for the President, his family and his staff, in addition to thousands of Quetzals being spent for unnecessary reasons.

The legislators want to take advantage of this tragedy to pass a series of regressive legislations targeting NGOs and allowing illegal electoral funding. They also want to annul the article that prohibits transfuguismo. (Transfuguismo is the term used in Guatemala to describe the action of changing party affiliation.) These actions once again make clear that this Congress must be refined deeply, but this refinement will only be possible if the citizens convert their outrage into mobilization and organization to demand, pressurize and refine this gang of criminals who at the moment dominate the Congress.

To the Guatemalans who have generously opened their hearts and showed their solidarity with the affected families and communities, we would like to say that after the response to emergencies comes the difficult phase of reconstruction and it is then that there is a need to maintain support to the affected families. That is also the time to demand that the government, in consultation with affected communities, respond with a dignified and complete reconstruction.

We express our solidarity with the families of the affected communities whom we will be supporting directly and we offer, to the best of our ability, our support in driving their demands.

The Committee for Peasants’ Unity (CUC)

Clear Mind, Supportive Heart and Combative Fist of the Rural Workers

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