Guatemala: United for Haiti After Earthquake

In 1976, a powerful earthquake killed nearly 23,000 Guatemalans, most of whom were poor and indigenous peoples living in slums and other vulnerable areas. During that time, many people across the globe had not been aware of the conditions of poverty and stark contrasts in Guatemala. However, following the disaster, the formation of reconstruction groups and the arrival of massive international cooperation gave rise to organizational growth in rural and urban areas. Now, Guatemalans are united to stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti. Various efforts from different communities are taking place to lend support to those victims of the Haiti earthquake.

Guatemala City after 1976 Earthquake (image in the Public Domain).

Guatemala City after 1976 Earthquake (image in the Public Domain).

El Zacapaneco [es] reports that in Gualan, a rural village of modest income, local media, radio, and television stations gathered together to organize a Telethon, where they collected up to US$2500, as well as many in kind donations. El Poptuneco [es] (based in Poptún, Petén) is also inviting people to donate and help. The blog Cultura Cristiana [es] is inviting people from the Protestant church to collaborate as good Christians and show their love for Haitians. Noticias La Esfinge [es], from Coban invites people from all religions to pray for Haiti.

The Guatemalan Army is permanently collaborating with United Nations peacekeepers. They have many troops deployed in Haiti, and as quickly as the Government could, they sent the Specialized Unit of Humanitarian Aid and Rescue, as reported by the blog Perspectiva Militar [es]. In addition, a trained German Shepherd dog traveled with the Army to help them find the victims. The blog that provides information about Guatemalan Firefighters also reports [es] that a specialized unit was sent promptly to the island. Sensluze of the blog Banana Smoothie [es] describes the options Guatemalans have to help on her post Help Haiti!

Walter González of the blog Guatemala en Decimas [es] wrote a poem dedicated to Haiti, as did Oxwell77 of the blog Guatezona [es] who wrote a poem. RockRepublik [es], the biggest community of rock music fans in the country, debated extensively about the best ways to help people affected by the tragedy.

In light of the recent tragedy in Haiti and the reminder of Guatemala's own earthquake more than 30 years ago, the blog from the Fire Station in Antigua, Guatemala provides precise instructions on what to do before, during, and after an earthquake.

Finally, Alejandro Ramírez, a Guatemalan film producer based in Haiti has been documenting the tragedy. He writes in an open letter he sent to Havana Times [es]:

I’ve walked all of the streets of Jacmel —with my two cameras hanging from my neck— without feeling the slightest sense of aggressiveness or seeing any strange looks (something I can’t do in Guatemala City or Caracas). The whole town received me with affection and even took me to the most severe problem areas. I felt sorry for my complete lack of Creole or French, because residents recounted stories that I couldn’t understand. However many Haitians speak Spanish and were able to convey their feelings to me, an unknown white guy who was invading their space.

He also added:

So how can the media say that everything is a disaster if there is a mountain of hearts that still beat with the human feeling of solidarity, which is always noticed more among those who have less? And in these moments, this town is possibly one with the least – and the most.


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