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El Salvador Under Water: Situations And Reasons

This update comes from Marta Benavides regarding the ongoing floods in El Salvador and the surrounding region. Due to these tragic events, the Women and Climate Justice tribunals planned there for the weekend have been postponed.

"The water has taken everything from us", the people say, as they come to stay at a refugee center for those people affected by the heavy rains in El Salvador.

I have been able to reach a place to send this message and pictures, even as the emergency and rains continue, to let you know about our situation.  

Our  National Congress yesterday declared  a state of national calamity and disaster, and today the National Government was forced to close all schools and declared a state of National Emergency, as new fronts are coming from the Pacific in the South and from the North East.  

It is thousands of people who have lost their homes and all they own, from a chair to a basket, from a chicken to a hog, thousands of hectares completely  flooded, thousands of tons of corn and beans lost, as well as all they have planted too.

Thanks to the heroic effort of people, with the help of government institutions, many have been saved, and not too many are disappeared nor dead. It is thousands that are now in refuge, having to start anew, once the hurricanes are over. It is the good will and solidarity of people that is helping to take care of needs, as the government can only do so much, and the need is large, and immediate.

So many roads and bridges have collapsed or fallen. You will see some of it in the few pictures I send, a contribution of one of  our partners, Asociacion Nueva Vida. The Panamerican Highway that connects us with Guatemala and Mexico is now without the bridges over the rivers that separate us.  So, dozens of commercial trucks that are parked in one side of the other, awaiting a solution. 

Heavy rains are still falling... and it will continue til next week we are told. The soil is completely saturated, it can not absorb any more water, so any more rain, means more flooding, more landslides. More of what we already have.

Thus, we can only expect more tragedies to be suffered by those who already suffer the difficult situation today, for the colonial legacy of impoverishment is such, that thousands have been forced to live in hundreds of years in very vulnerable conditions, in the low areas, near the rivers, the coast, or in ravines. 

This colonial legacy has also resulted in a cultural practice of exclusion, of keeping people in poverty and ignorance, in dependency, to be cheap hand labor, a culture that maintains the corruption of those who in any way have been in power, and who make sure that not even a basic law for the prevention and mitigation of disasters is approved, least implemented, even as a large network of communities have been pressing hard for years for that. 

There is not way to get lost. What is very clear is that is the people who live in situation of impoverishment  are the most affected, and of those, the women and indigenous groups, the children and youth, the elderly.

This is the result of hundreds of years of the exploitation of the original nations in our country, of the mindless exploitation of Mother Earth, the intentional disrespect of all the laws of Life and of Nature, of the centuries old continued prioritization of market and money, of classicism  and the practice of all forms of discrimination. 

We are mindful of the fact that our sisters and brothers of Mexico, of Guatemala, of Honduras and Nicaragua, are suffering as much as we are, and the same is true as we know of Thailand, of Bali, and of so many nations, both in the Global South and the Global North,  who have been suffering as we have, the same situations, and we know that it is, for them, and as it is any where in the world, that it is as a result of the same practices and the same legacies

This must change, and it must change now, thus, we need to unite to do all that we need to solve and change what we can, as citizens, in our families and communities.  That  we must make sure to elect public servants, whom we pay well to serve, so they do serve the people's and the planet's needs, or we must take effective and timely measures to get rid of them.

Due to this situation and for security reasons our coordinating committee cancelled on Thursday afternoon the events listed below, that we were to celebrate this  weekend, since all the rural and indigenous groups who were to participate are precisely from the most affected areas, most  of which are isolated now, and living a very dire situation:

Oct 14 - Friday:  at the National University  the Audience of Gender and Climate Justice -- dedicated to Wangari Maathai

Oct 15 - Saturday: At a major park in the capital  city - Parque Cuscatlan - on World Food Day - Food Sovereignty and Climate Change - with Youth and Children

Oct 16 - Sunday: At the Central Plaza in front of the National Cathedral in the capital city - The World We Want - A BICENTENIAL WITHOUT HUNGER, A BICENTENIAL WITHOUT POVERTY

The events will be celebrated at a new date, once the situation of the weather is  in better condition.  All these events were under the sponsorship of Siglo XXIII, the National University of El Salvador, Asociacion Nueva Vida, the G50 (Grupo G sin cuenta), in cooperation with various NGOs and with GCAP/FTF, Greenpeace and the International Press Service/IPS.

Be well,
Marta Benavides