Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Invisibilization of Indigenous Hurricane Victims in Guerrero

While the media focuses on the Mexican government’s efforts to evacuate tourists stranded in Acapulco by Hurricane Ingrid and tropical storm Manuel, Guerrero’s indigenous population is abandoned and forgotten.

Alert by Tlachinollan Human Rights Center
Tlapa, de Comonfort, Guerrero. September 18, 2013

The Tlachinollan Human Rights Center denounces that hurricane victims in the Montaña region have been treated as though they were invisible. To date, the government has not taken action to deal with the damages caused by the recent storms in this region.

In Guerrero’s Montaña region, hundreds of communities remain cut off from the outside world, and the number of deaths caused by the storms is still uncertain. The situation that Na’savi and Me’phaa indigenous communities are facing in the municipalities of Malinaltepec, Atlamajalcingo del Monte, Iliatenco, Cochoapa el Grande Metlatonoc, Tlacoapa, Acatepec, and Copanatoyac is urgent; people there are cut off and abandoned. Deaths of children and adults have been reported in Mixtecapa, San Luis Acatlán municipality, due to a mudslide on the hill where the community is located. In the Moyotepec and El Tejocote communities in the Malinaltepec municipality, community authorities have reported over ten deaths. In Tilapa and its annex El Salto in the same municipality, three people were reported dead. In that same municipality there is flooding and damage to hundreds of homes as well as the destruction of crops. In Huehuetepec, Atlamajalcingo del Monte municipality, the Ixtle Hill has begun to slide and residents have left their homes to take refuge in the hills. Likewise, about 70 families face the serious risk that their homes will be buried.

To Tlachinollan, the rains’ impacts in the Montaña are incalculable. In addition to not having an accurate number of deaths, the loss of corn sown by subsistence farmers during this agricultural cycle means that the majority of communities in the region will face an alarming food scarcity in the immediate future. On top of that, homes have been completely destroyed in many communities. In this context, it is urgent to guarantee the human rights to food and dignified housing through emergency actions.

Nevertheless, the state’s response has not arrived to the Montaña region. The traditional community authorities who have arrived on foot to Tlapa have run into public officials’ indifference and discriminatory treatment. There is a total lack of coordination between the three levels of government [municipal, state, and federal], and there is no political representation to quickly deal with victims’ proposals and demands. It is extremely frustrating that the indigenous population that made a great effort to get to Tlapa must return without assuring that the authorities accompany them to their communities to confirm the damages.

On the other hand, Tlachinollan has confirmed that in semi-urban centers such as the municipal seat of Tlapa, the situation is becoming alarming due to the fact that the city is cut off due to the damage to highways that connect it to Chilpancingo, Puebla, and Marquelia. This is already causing a scarcity of gasoline and food, and various neighborhoods remain without telephone service and electricity.

Faced with this situation, the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center laments that the situation of the victims in the Montaña region has not received sufficient attention, neither from the public nor from government agencies, being that the region’s extremely poor suffer the worst consequences of these natural disasters. Once more, the marginalized are also the most forgotten. Therefore, Tlachinollan calls for emergency measures to deal with the situation of victims in the Montaña region and demands that the extraordinary funds that are delivered to Guerrero state authorities incorporate mechanisms of transparency and oversight in order to avoid discretional use for political gain, because such embezzlement is unfortunately frequent in the state.

Finally, the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center calls upon civil society to support the solidarity campaigns that seek to collect food for the people in Guerrero who have been affected by the rains, given that the situation the state faces is critical.

Translated by Kristin Bricker.


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