When Will We Have Equitable Access To Fruits Of Development? In Guatemala’s western highlands, a range of factors are driving migration. While a century and half ago it was the rapacious British East India Company that was the target of the Indian masses this time their ire[Read More…], World Food Day:  Ecologically-Sound Development, Virus-linked hunger tied to 10,000 child deaths each month. The present-day hunger crisis in Guatemala is a result of long-term, neoliberal policies, oriented towards the economic subordination of the country as a … These losses are not sufficiently compensated by the jobs and incomes offered by the agribusiness companies. Together we are transforming the poor and their communities materially and spiritually for the glory of Jesus Christ. The planting “of oil palm and sugarcane over lands previously dedicated to peasant and small-scale capitalist farming is eroding local wage labor opportunities because it is much less labor-intensive…oil palm and sugarcane require 52 and 36 working days per hectare/year respectively, while, for instance, the two annual maize harvests require 112 and chili cultivation 184 working days.” Substitution of food crops “by the corporately owned plantations [of palm oil and sugarcane] diminishes the employment and income opportunities of small-scale corn producers, regional traders and micro-entrepreneurs. SIGN UP FOR COUNTERCURRENTS DAILY NEWSLETTER, Share:WhatsAppFacebookTwitterTelegramRedditEmail The ongoing siege of the national capital New Delhi by hundreds of thousands of farmers represents, perhaps, the biggest revolt against ‘Company Raj’ since India’s First War of Independence way back in 1857. The assertion that the highly capitalized agribusiness is a source of additional incomes and employment is not true in the case of Guatemala.”, Guatemala’s Annual Agricultural Survey of 2013 has found that a continuous growth of agro-export land surface in ten years, from 2003 to 2013, has coincided with a 26% decrease in the total agricultural employment. On 25 April, the UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA, reported that lockdown measures were exacerbating seasonal hunger in eastern Guatemala, already badly hit by a 2019 drought. The words used by UNICEF back then in 1989 resonate loudly with the current situation in Guatemala. Demonstrators set an office of the Congress building on fire during a protest demanding the resignation of Alejandro Giammattei, the president of Guatemala. Since then, imports have increased exponentially, accounting for one-third of the domestic supply. By Daniel Altschuler | September 16, 2009 . Now, they are facing a second crisis: extreme food shortage. Our primary approach to the migration crisis in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador is to address the root causes of violence, poverty and drought that are pushing people to … Guatemala declares hunger crisis. Action Against Hunger is a global humanitarian organization that takes decisive action against the causes and effects of hunger. Américo González López, Mayor of the Manos Unidos Cooperative, talks about how the RESPA palm oil project in the Sayaxché municipality was flawed from the beginning and had state protection for whatever plunder it did in the region: “This case [contamination of Río la Pasió] proves that MARN [Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources] has failed and that the municipality has failed. From 649 Metric Tons (MT) in 2004, Guatemala’s maize imports have grown to 1600 MT in 2019. At the end of May 2020, more than 15,000 cases of acute malnutrition were reported among children, exceeding the total number for the year 2019. Allowing world economic problems to be taken out on the growing minds and bodies of young children is the antithesis of all civilized behavior. Places like South Sudan, Guatemala, and the Philippines have seen an increase in need because of COVID-19 shutdowns and travel restrictions. Along with securitized regulation and the violation of free, prior and informed consent, palm oil production is also linked to environmental disasters and the contamination of the Río la Pasió River in the Sayaxché municipality is a paradigmatic example of such catastrophes. In Guatemala, two-thirds of the agricultural land is dominated by 2.5% of the country’s farms, less than 1% of landowners hold 75% of the best agricultural land, 90% of rural inhabitants live in poverty, 27% of rural dwellers do not own land and more than 500,000 campesino families live below the level of subsistence. The area reports high rates of violence against women , and there are few resources for victims or … In 2008, the government of Guatemala considered 1,101,604 hectares, or thirty-seven per cent of the country’s total farmland, to be suitable for sugarcane and oil palm cultivation. But as you have no money, there’s no way he’ll get better.”. Due to plummeting employment and decreased welfare aid, it is estimated that 1.2 million Guatemalans are in need of emergency food rations. In addition, Guatemala has the sixth highest level of chronic malnutrition in the world, and … Whereas 98% of Guatemala’s total maize consumption during the 1980s was domestically produced, the proportion has declined to an average of 76% since 1990. The COVID-19 Crisis in Guatemala and Honduras: as the pandemic takes root, hunger is already growing. Like sugarcane, palm oil monocultures, too, are associated with environmental disasters, violence and food insecurity. In this country, the prevalence of stunting in children under 5 is one of the highest in the world at 46.5% nationally. They have security personnel who take videos and photos of journalists. Not having any disposable income as a result of crop destruction, the evicted campesinos were left in a state of intense food insecurity wherein the rising food prices disallowed them from achieving a basic subsistence level. However, even before the pandemic hit, these countries, and many others, were struggling with hunger. In its 1989 annual report, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had blamed the structural adjustment policies of the 1980s for the death of hundreds of thousands of children in the Global South. A report released by Oxfam in July 2020 states, “COVID-19 is deepening the hunger crisis in the world’s hunger hotspots and creating new epicentres of hunger across the globe. Australia’s Afghanistan War Crimes: A Case of Old Habits Die Hard? Instead of using bland, benumbed and bureaucratic jargon, it had used unequivocal terms to condemn the cruelty of structural adjustment programs: “It is essential to strip away the niceties of economic parlance and say that what has happened is simply an outrage against a large segment of humanity. The undermining of subsistence and food security by land concentration has been accompanied by the destabilization of maize-self sufficiency and the concomitant substitution of food crops with agro-export crops. The present-day hunger crisis in Guatemala is a result of long-term, neoliberal policies, oriented towards the economic subordination of the country as a … With the deaths of the economically valuable fishes, there has been a concomitant loss of 8 million euros. Palm oil and sugarcane plantations, apart from leading to market-oriented de-peasantization, also cause displacement, environmental disasters, economic uncertainty and consequently, food insecurity. Many factors including climate threats, poverty, lack of education and low sanitation have contributed to this crisis overtime. Guatemala's legislature on Monday backed away from approving a business-friendly 2021 budget after demonstrators in the Central American nation torched the … Last year, with a budget of over $11 million, the Action Against Hunger team in Guatemala worked with more than 35,000 people to help them remain living in their communities. They didn’t ask if it’s okay or what the communities think about it …. In the municipality of Camotán, there are 67 cases of malnutrition, an astronomic increase from 18 cases the previous year. In the 1961-1990 period, maize imports had accounted for less than 4% of total consumption. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry. This shows that the EIS were not real. April 7, 2020 Consecutive years of irregular rainfall in Central America’s Dry Corridor have exacerbated acute food insecurity among poor households in Guatemala. I have to give accounts of what I take. Video credit: Sonny Figueroa But the truth is, there’s no development – rather, it’s a disaster.”. In the Polochic Valley, for example, negotiations between campesino communities, state agencies, and the Chabil Utzaj sugar cane company fell apart in March 2011 “as at least 14 violent evictions were carried out between January and March 2011 on land claimed by the company. No Meat, No Milk, No Bread: Hunger Crisis Rocks Latin America. Canadian Prime minister’s statement on farmer protest is not an interference in our internal matters, Body, Nation and Resistance in the times of COVID-19, A People’s Manifesto for Ecological Democracy. For many, severe malnutrition can be too much to overcome. Suffering from chronic hunger, illiteracy, child labor and extreme violence, Guatemalan children need your help. Furthermore, food insecurity is exacerbated by the scalar incongruence between (beyond-community) food system threats, shocks and stresses, and (primarily within-household) adaptation strategies in relation to self- and market- provisioning of food.”, Violence, Securitization and Environmental Disaster. In May 2015, the oxidation lagoons (containing wastes from oil mills and chemicals for fertilizers and pesticides) of the company Reforestadora de Palma S.A. (REPSA), a subsidiary of the biggest producer of palm oil in Guatemala, the Olmeca group, overflowed due to heavy rains and spilled their contents (mainly malathion) into the surrounding areas. A local community group called the Commission for the Defense of Life and Nature, for instance, took legal action and won a court ruling that called the spill as an “ecocide” and asked the company to suspend operations for six months at the Sayaxché palm plantation in Petén. April 8, 2020. Almost half the population cannot afford the cost of the basic food basket. And it shames and diminishes us all.”. According to health ministry figures cited by the UN, acute malnutrition cases in the department of Chiquimula have increased 56.6 percent compared to a year ago. Due to disruptions in supply chains, there has been a spike in food prices in Guatemala, further pushing the country into a 2008-like food price crisis where a 34% increase in the price of yellow maize plunged 450,000 Guatemalans into poverty. “More than half of Guatemalan households are having difficulty accessing markets and four out of ten families are using coping strategies that leave them worse off, such as depleting their savings or selling some of their assets,”. This is what the company has done. Climate change is wreaking havoc in Guatemala, causing a hunger crisis. According to a person living in the Polochic Valley, “In 1996 the palm [cultivation] began [here], without the consent of the communities … they just came, planted their palm, and put up their factory. The ecological catastrophe in the Sayaxché municipality was in the making for many years since the palm oil project of REPSA did not have an approved Environmental Impact Study (EIS) and despite this the Guatemalan state allowed the company to carry out its operations. GHRC reporting from Washington and Guatemala. Out of the 23 species decimated by the spillover, six were endangered species and six had economic value for the communities. Meanwhile, the people of Sayaxché continue to suffer from the ecocide and the statement of María Margarita Hernández de Herrera, a 45-year-old Q’eq’chi Mayan woman, living with her husband and three children in the village of Canaán, in Sayaxché, Petén, expresses the long-term repercussions of the river contamination for the livelihoods of many: “This [river contamination] is the most difficult thing for a community that lives surrounded by [palm oil]plantations, because we’ve lost the lands where we used to cultivate our crops; and with the contamination of the river, we can no longer fish and prepare the catch alongside the river to eat with our beans. A farmer settled in southwest Peten talks about how palm oil companies, through their securitization and militaristic regulation of agricultural lands, create barriers for food production: “When I want to go to my land, they don’t let me; I have to ask permission to harvest my corn or take out firewood or construction wood. Donations from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures for this project incurred through June 30, 2021, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. Along with overt violence, REPSA is also utilizing informational platforms, confrontational tactics and securitization strategies to quell long-term resistance against its environmentally disastrous operations. 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A prolonged drought has devastated crops and left families with little food and no means of making a living. Chinese demand for rosewood—trafficked more than ivory, rhino horn, and pangolin scales—is fueling a crisis in Guatemala's forests. The entire environment is contaminated because now we have constant infestations of flies in our food, on our fruits, so we have to take special care that the children don’t get sick. Guatemala. Maize in Guatemala is grown on one-third of the agricultural land and accounts for 91 per cent of the total cereal area in the country. Through the expansion of oil palm and sugarcane, food insecurity has heightened. They divert the river water to their greenhouses or for watering the palm trees, and the rivers are drying up. How is it possible that this type of situation was not foreseen? Those children who do not receive sufficient nutrients can suffer irreversible physical and cognitive development. COVID-19 Impact: Can India Save The Sustainable Development Goal On Hunger? As a result of the aggravating hunger pandemic in Guatemala, protests have been staged and according to an agitator. water, forest, and soils), and heightened the region’s exposure to external shocks (e.g. Child malnutrition also increased from 60% in 2016 to 69% in 2019. In 2019, food insecurity had worsened as more than 78% of the corn and bean harvest was lost in the year, affecting 250,000 people. We see that the color and the smell of the river has changed; our water sources have diminished; and when we wash our clothes and bathe our children in the river, we get skin lesions, diarrhea, nausea.”. Action Against Hunger has been present in Guatemala since 1998, during which we’ve helped communities recover from the effects of several natural disasters and storms, while working with at-risk communities to address endemic economic instability and poverty. The COVID-19 crisis is hitting Central America’s fragile Northern Triangle–Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador–full force. In addition to ecological-economic loss, the malathion overflow has heavily impacted the communities living in the department of Peten since exposure to the chemical “interferes with the normal functioning of the nerves and the brain; and exposure to very high levels in air, water, or food for a short time can cause shortness of breath, chest tightness, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, blurred vision, excessive sweating, dizziness, unconsciousness, and death.” Melding and synchronizing the all-pervasive effects of the malathion spillover, Saúl Paau, a community Leader, characterizes it as a crime against humanity: “We can categorize the case as a crime against humanity, because not only are various species of our rivers being killed, but the river is also part of our historical culture, it is part of our territory, we feed on it, and with pollution and fish mortality today the food security of each and all the 116 thousand inhabitants that live in the municipalities of Sayaxché is violated…The issue of the breakdown of the ecosystem and the environment is not only water and fish, it is air, is human health, environmental health ”. Challenges for Children in Guatemala. The pandemic had just hit Guatemala in full force and Alonso, a 34-year-old construction worker, was suddenly jobless. Between 2000 and 2016, palm oil production in Guatemala climbed six-fold, making it the second-largest oil palm producer in Latin America. Unprotected from the various global setbacks, Guatemala is also experiencing the pain of a hunger crisis exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Public safety, migration, drug trafficking, education and poor access to clean water and basic sanitation are some of the challenges facing … They monopolize the water. People are aware of the impact they are having, but in order to keep their job, they don’t say anything. By almost every measure, Guatemala is one of the world’s toughest places to be a child. In the 48 years I have lived here, I have never seen river levels so low. When income decreases, people are unable to afford food items and presently, half of the population is not able to afford the basic food basket. Chronic food shortage Lack of rain in Guatemala has reduced harvests this year, pushing up food prices in stores and creating a crisis in poor communities. The present-day hunger crisis in Guatemala is a result of long-term, neoliberal policies, oriented towards the economic subordination of the country as a … Sign up below to find out how you can help save lives. Hunger in Guatemala has been devastating for children. Food crisis in Guatemala. The free trade agreement allowed “US agribusiness to flood the markets with subsidized grains, further undermining local production. The people of the area were not consulted about the project in spite of the fact that it was a project with a huge environmental impact. In Guatemala, the problem is particularly severe. Guatemala. Lorenzo Pérez, Coordinator of the National Council of Displaced Persons of Guatemala, says, “Other companies sit down at the dialogue table and are more respectful, but REPSA doesn’t want to meet with the people. While Guatemala farmers stopped receiving any support from the state, American corn farmers continued to “receive both direct subsidies (an average of $28,000 per farmer, which is more than five times Guatemala’s per capita GDP)…and indirect supports (like cheap water for irrigations and cheap oil made into fertilizers)”. This colorful nation has the highest prevalence of chronic malnutrition in Latin America and the … Angela Naletilic, Deputy Director for Action Against Hunger in Central America, says that. Log in. In Chiquimula, for example, there are 221 children with acute malnutrition, an increase of 56.6% from the last year. It provided food assistance to over 18,100 people, including more than 4,900 children under five who were at risk of malnutrition. The developing world’s debt, both in the manner in which it was incurred and in the manner in which it is being ‘adjusted to’ is an economic stain on the second half of the twentieth century. You get scared and wonder if your child is going to die. Between 1983 and 1987, state credit for maize, beans and rice fell by 40%. By the end of the year 12,000 people per day could die from hunger linked to COVID-19, potentially more than will die from the disease itself.” Like other regions in the world, Latin America, too, is set to witness the intensification of an already-existing hunger crisis with the number of people facing severe food insecurity increasing from 4.3 million in 2019 to 16 million in 2020, an increase of 269%. In June 2020, 1.2 million people were in need of emergency food aid, an increase of 570,000 from the beginning of the year. As a result of this serious disparity, U.S. imports to Guatemala grew by 90 percent in less than a decade after DR-CAFTA, the sales of American produce in maize, wheat, and soy reaching $1.1 billion in 2014. The government declared a food emergency in September. Yanis Iqbal is a student and freelance writer based in Aligarh, India and can be contacted at yanisiqbal@gmail.com. After this spate of violence, REPSA continued with its palm oil business. Even before the storms hit, some 3.7 million people - (more than a fifth of the population) were already suffering high levels of acute food insecurity, according to a report prepared for a United Nations agency tracking hunger data. Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom has declared … Various organizations have attempted to protest the unencumbered pillage of REPSA and to bring attention to the irreparable ecological damage being done by the company. The watering holes in our pasturelands have dried up and that has never happened before. Some time ago when 15 workers tried to form a union, they were fired.”. His articles have been published by different magazines and websites such as Monthly Review Online, ZNet, Green Social Thought, Weekly Worker, News and Letters Weekly, Economic and Political Weekly, Arena, Eurasia Review, Coventry University Press, Culture Matters, Global Research, Dissident Voice, Countercurrents, Counterview, Hampton Institute, Ecuador Today, People’s Review, Eleventh Column, Karvaan India, Clarion India, OpEd News, The Iraq File, Portside and the Institute of Latin American Studies. Currently, 4 of the top 5 exports of Guatemala are agricultural products, an indication of the economic extensiveness of DR-CAFTA. The stunting rate rises to 70% in some departments and 90% in the hardest hit municipalities. Silveria Pérez, a mother of four living in a rural Guatemalan community, says, “You’re told your child is malnourished. At first, they said it is going to bring development and it’s a good process. Community corn fields were destroyed in Canlún during the blitz, and private security guards returned to attack campesinos from the group on 21 May, killing Oscar Reyes with 12 gunshots and wounding at least three others”. The expansion of sugar-cane plantations in Guatemala occurred between 2001 and 2012, leading to a 55% increase in production area and a 46% increase in production volume. Through the use of violence against campesinos cultivating maize and other food crops, the sugar cane company was able to displace the peasants from their own lands, eliminate domestic food production in the region, force the campesinos into being dependent on imported food for consumption and exploit the rising food prices of the 2007-2008 period. Withdrawal of state support for traditional maize farmers combined with the introduction of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) of 2004 to disrupt traditional agricultural practices. The average minimum landholding necessary for family subsistence in the country is between 4.5 and 7 hectares. “We are dying not only from the virus but also from hunger, poverty, forgetfulness of the state, exploitation by businessmen, and corruption by politicians and the military”. Subsequent to the court ruling, three environmental defenders were kidnapped and a fourth activist, named Rigoberto Lima Choc, a 28-year-old schoolteacher from Champerico who had filed the complaint, was killed. Delivering food, shelter and hope to the poorest of the poor. Our staff of nearly 8,500 people served more than 17 million people in 46 countries last year. The cases of Israel, Domitila, and the other children here are the extreme edge of the hunger crisis in Guatemala, which has some of the worst rates of chronic malnutrition in the world. What Is the Alternative Farming and Food System That India Needs? Over 3 million people are food insecure in Guatemala and almost 47% of under fives are chronically malnourished. Total production in 2012 reached 2.5 million tons of sugar, of which 61 per cent were exported, and the total area amounted to 256,000 hectares. The systematic dismantling of domestic maize production has paved the way for the installation of an export-oriented agricultural model comprising predominantly of palm oil and sugarcane. Beginning roughly from the 1980s and 1990s, the country has witnessed the large-scale economic entrenchment of a neoliberal food system characterized by the growth of agro-export crops (mainly palm oil and sugarcane), decreasing land for domestic food crops and a grotesque land concentration in the hands of the few. But, over the last month, it’s become clear that another crisis is unfolding just next door in Guatemala. Official mortality statistics for 2019 have not yet been made public, but doctors and medical staff working across the country tell CNN that unusually high levels of … As a result, the prevalence of stunting in children under 5 is one of the highest in the world – and the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean . The present-day hunger crisis in Guatemala is a result of long-term, neoliberal policies, oriented towards the economic subordination of the country as a stable periphery for the global imperialist empire. The security guards inspect what I carry in my bag when I go to my field in the morning; they write down my name and my identification number and they repeat this in the afternoon, too.” Many a times, palm oil companies don’t have the consent of the community and operate without any governmental licenses. They took down too many trees, and now they are using too much water.” The disruption of hydrological dynamics by palm oil companies is not an isolated event and the destruction of water balances is a part and parcel of palm oil production which has an extremely high water requirement of 5500 m3 /ton of crop yield – about five times that of maize. oil palm price fluctuations). In addition to the loss of income, sugarcane and palm oil cultivation have “contributed to the disappearance of certain nutritious foods…compromised ecological resources (e.g. Are having, but in order to keep their job, they were fired. ” REPSA campaign... 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