Indigenous peoples will suffer more damage from the virus

In Chiapas, a lack of water puts a half million homes at risk for COVID-19.

By: Gloria Muñoz Ramírez

Los de Abajo

Added to oblivion and marginalization, indigenous communities will resent even more the effects of the virus that invades the entire world. Hugo López-Gatell, undersecretary of Prevention and Promotion of Health, has been clear: “At this time, the distribution patterns of the epidemic show that it is relatively concentrated in urban areas. It still predominates in the sectors that have certain economic capacity. At any time, this (economic) barrier will be lost and it will affect the people who have the least with greater intensity.” It’s a fact.

But nothing seems to indicate, as of now, that the governmental alert is followed by urgent measures for confronting the pandemic. The Ayuujk (Mixe) population of San Pedro and San Pablo Ayutla, for example, has been without water for more that 1,000 days, they have denounced it in national and international forums, and nothing. A recent fire on parts of Cerro Pelón and La Laguna aggravates the situation, to which are added dry and high temperatures. An armed group from Tamazulapam del Espíritu Santo stripped Ayutla of its water, and took possession of its natural spring, before the silence and/or complicity of the local governments. Now there is no time to lose.

In Oaxaca, the journalist Diana Manzo has documented the lack of water in San Mateo and San Dionisio del Mar communities; in the latter, she reports, 80 percent of the 5,000 inhabitants have to buy water from pipes or extract it from wells that they have built on their own, because not a drop has fallen from the pipe for 20 years. Wash your hands 20 times a day? Not in your dreams.

As for the lack of health services –a generality in the immense majority of the indigenous communities–, the Wixárika Regional Council for the defense of Wirikuta demanded that the authorities of Jalisco, Durango and Nayarit provide attention to guarantying the right to the health of the communities, since for decades they have demanded the service, without a favorable response. And now there can be no delay.

Without a doubt the communities are organizing their prevention, as they have always done. But, when the virus reaches them, what are they going to do without water, doctors or medicines?

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, March 4, 2020

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2020/04/04/opinion/009o1pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

 

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