ARTICLE: Serious Damage due to Storms in Guerrero – Two Months on, the Mountain Region is far from returning to Normality

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ARTICLE: Serious Damage due to Storms in Guerrero – Two Months on, the Mountain Region is far from returning to Normality

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“All of our rights were washed away by the rains” – member of a civil organization in Guerrero

The state of Guerrero was cut off for several days—in some regions, for weeks or even months—due to the floods provoked by the tropical storms “Manuel” and “Ingrid,” which struck the state on 14 and 15 September, respectively. More than 100 persons died during this weekend, and several more remain disappeared. Thousands throughout the state lost their homes, crops, and possessions. The discrepancy in the immediate attention provided to cities versus rural areas was striking. President Enrique Peña Nieto, for example, visited the city of Acapulco the day after the storm, while the response to rural areas took days and sometimes weeks to get underway. Above all in the Mountain Region, there were grave consequences: two months after the disaster there are communities that continue to be cut off due to the fact that highways and roads simply disappeared during the storms, and governmental aid has yet to arrive. In addition, food shortages are expected, given the loss of crops and the lack of immediate and long-term disaster relief measures taken by governmental authorities.

© SIPAZ

© SIPAZ

According to a 26 September report from Civil Protection of Guerrero, official statistics report 33 deaths in the Mountain Region alone. However, according to testimony collected by the Tlachinollan Mountain Center for Human Rights, 42 people died, men and women, with an unknown number of disappeared. On 18 September, Tlachinollan denounced that in the Mountain Region “with the loss of the maize crop which was cultivated for subsistence purposes during this agricultural cycle, the majority of the communities in the region will confront a critical lack of food in the near future. On top of this, homes have been destroyed in many communities. The guarantee of the human rights to food and dignified living conditions remains an urgent issue in this context.” For many families the only viable option is temporarily to migrate in search of work and income.

In October, Tlachinollan reported that nearly a month after tropical storms Ingrid and Manuel, more than a thousand residents of the Mountain Region abandoned their homes after losing their maize, bean, banana, and coffee crops and migrated to the north of the country in search of work as agricultural day laborers. According to Javier Guerrero, Undersecretary for Social Development, 80% of the crops in the zone were devastated by severe rains from the storms. In a communiqué, Tlachinollan stressed on 20 October that the Council of Agricultural Workers of the Mountain Region of Guerrero (CJAM) between 27 September and 12 October had registered the exit of a thousand people from the Mountain Region who moved to the states of Sinaloa, Sonora, Northern Baja California, Southern Baja California Sur, and Chihuahua, among others, for agricultural work. Still, it may difficult for many to find work in the agricultural fields of northern Mexico, given that many of these areas themselves were equally affected by the storms of 14 and 15 September.

© SIPAZ

© SIPAZ

Within the Mountain Region itself, communities have taken proactive steps to improve their situation. Some two weeks after the floods, indigenous communities of the Mountain Region formed the Council of Authorities of Communities Affected by the Storm, a grouping that provides voice to affected peoples. Abel Barrera, director of Tlachinollan, indicated that the members of the council will insist that no one be excluded from decision-making structures. Nonetheless, attention to affected communities has not been forthcoming, according to the Inter-Ministerial Commission for Attention and Support to Migrant Agricultural Workers, due to the absence of a comprehensive response plan, the delay in making resources available after the storms, and the lack of internal coordination. Two months after the storms, the residents of the Mountain Region of Guerrero are far from a return to normality: not only do they experience hunger but the reconstruction of homes has not begun, there are no medicines, and there is no aid from any authorities.

Donations to support storm victims:

Attention: Tlachinollan grupo de apoyo a los pueblos indios de la Montaña, A.C. (Tlachinollan Support Gruop to Indian Peoples of the Mountain, A.C.)
Bank account number: 4602197668 (Banamex)
Routing number: 002281460201976688