In early November, Hurricane Eta slammed into Central America. Honduras and Guatemala were hard hit, with heavy rains, flooding, landslides, electrical storms and high winds. In Honduras, an estimated 2.6 million people are affected, and some 700,000 Guatemalans. Close to 100,000 Hondurans are displaced, with massive damage to homes and infrastructure. Nearly a hundred people are known to be dead or missing in Honduras and 46 killed and 96 reported missing in Guatemala, according to the Foreign Ministry. Responders on the ground say that even these appalling figures are almost certainly an undercount.
Hurricane Eta’s devastation comes on top of the tremendous cost of the COVID-19 pandemic and the countries’ endemic problems of corruption and political and economic crisis. Many families are on the edge of survival.
Women defenders of land and territory who form part of the JASS community have been severely affected, along with allied organizations and communities. Women members of our grassroots feminist leadership school Alquimia report that the hurricane has wiped out their homes, their livelihoods and years of work.
“The situation in the region of Progreso [Honduras] is critical”, reports Nora Ramírez, a graduate of the Alquima school and leader of the National Association of Farmworkers (CNTC). “We’re running around searching for our members, we don’t know where they are. More than 18 peasant farmer centers lost everything and we haven’t had word from them.”
There is suspicion that government corruption will prevent much of official aid from reaching the victims who most need it.
We know these are not easy times for many people. But we also know that our countries, our needs and our visions for a just, feminist future are closely linked. Honduran and Guatemalan women activists from indigenous and rural communities are on the forefront of global battles against environmentally destructive extractive industries, the displacement of indigenous peoples and resource depletion. They have to fight every day for their democracy and their rights.
When they win, we win and now the fight they are fighting is for their very lives.
They need your help. Donate now to support the women leaders confronting the disaster and organizing community responses.