Central America Cries
The rain didn’t stop for days. And even now we haven’t stopped crying. Just as we were closing this issue of envío, October brought us days of interminable downpours triggered by the combination of a series of tropical storms and the effects of Hurricane Stan. Rivers rose, bridges fell, hillsides gave way, highways washed out, the drainage systems failed, poor neighborhoods and whole rural districts flooded, crops were lost, trees uprooted and swollen rivers overflowed their banks, destroying the homes of the poorest. Hundreds of thousands of people lost everything and we have all lost a great many Mexican and Central American men, women, children and animals who did not want to die, including the hundreds of Guatemalans buried beneath the mud of villages now wiped from the map. As we write, not all the dead have been accounted for, and many never will be. From southern Mexico—the Mayan borders of our Mesoamerica—to northwestern Nicaragua, the effects have been devastating. The disasters in El Salvador and Guatemala exceeded those caused by the terrible Hurricane Mitch seven years ago. And the repercussions will last for a long time through illnesses, emotional traumas and greater impoverishment.
This is not a fatal destiny written by a merciless and cruel nature, much less a disaster willed by God to punish or test us.
God is not an executioner; God is Mother and Father. We write the book of our personal and collective lives, our personal and social destiny with our own hands, some with better or worse words and deeds than others. What happened is certainly a natural disaster, because we are part of nature. We have the ability to care for nature or do it damage, and it has the ability to respond to our offenses or our compassion.
What we are seeing now is above all a socially provoked disaster. Once again our countries’ vulnerability, the harm done to them by an insensitive, indolent and irresponsible political class without an ounce of foresight, has been exposed for all to see. The territorial chaos resulting from a lack of planning, deforestation by lumber traffickers, highways cut to serve transnational projects, the construction of commercial areas at the expense of green spaces, the lack of social investment and planning in the areas where the poorest of the poor are squeezed together in unsafe ghettos, and all the other products of the unbridled shortsightedness and voracity of capital make the consequences of the ravaging winds and rain even more tragic. This is a human disaster, in which those with the most power are most responsible and those with the least, as always, have paid the highest price. It is a social disaster resulting from utter disregard for the lives of the poor and unrestricted regard for money, which form the essence of the economic model and philosophy of our region’s dominant groups.
We sit down to cry for you Central America on the shores of Lake Atitlán, one of Central America’s most fascinating sites—whose beauty is so intense it hurts—and also one of the worst and most painful points of this tragedy.
And we pledge to dry those tears so we can continue fighting, with ideas and with words, to make our nations
and societies more nature-friendly, more socially just and more humanly happy.