I just got done instant messaging with Oscar Mota who has been covering hurricane Stan's destruction on Guatemala at DesdeGuate.com from his home in Guatemala City. What follows are translated excerpts from our conversation:
OM: I haven't personally been affected, but already there are millions out there who are … and look at the approaching weather. One of our biggest problems is that we're already a poor country and so many victims have very few resources. 3.5 million victims! They say that so far there have been 600 deaths, but unofficially it's more like 1,800 to 2,000, but the government still won't say it. And the financial damages are big – already one billion dollars.
GV: What's even worse is that it's happening to a country which is already so poor.
OM: Exactly, our poorest citizens which barely had anything to begin with have lost it all. If you could only see the images on TV.
GV: I've seen some photographs of what happened in Panabaj … it's horrible.
OM: Exactly, the whole town disappeared from the map. And it's one of the nicest tourist attractions in all of Guatemala. “The loveliest lake of the world,” they say, Atitlán. There are still areas of the country where emergency crews haven't been able to reach for the past four or five days because the highways are blocked. And they can't get there by plane because of the weather. The people are there without water and without food. Yesterday, the defense minister planned to send out 30 helicopter flights with food, but because of the weather, they only sent one. Just imagine!
GV: I've been amazed by just how little coverage hurricane Stan has gotten in the U.S. media compared to the weeks of obsession which followed Katrina.
OM Here's something related. In Spain there is a free newspaper called 20minutos. Check this out, today, covering the front page was a photo of a videogame! So someone sent the director of the paper, who has a blog, a letter complaining about the coverage, and he replied with the following:
[She] is right … in today's portal there should have been more coverage of Pakistan's earthquake, Guatemala's mudslides, and Morocco's exportation of Sub-Saharan Africans
GV: How have Guatemalan bloggers responded to the tragedy?
GV: Thank you Oscar. Stay safe.
Meanwhile, other links documenting the damage done in Central America: