Chichigalpa, Nicaragua is home to the popular Flor de Caña, the country’s largest and best-known rum, exporting to over 40 countries. It’s owned by Carlos Pellas, the country’s first billionaire. Pellas is also known as the “Sugar King.”
In the same town, citizens are dying at an incredible rate. There’s actually 3 to 4 deaths a day in a community of only 60,000 people. Most of the people who die are sugarcane field workers. Their deaths are caused by chronic kidney disease [CKD].
Fieldworkers are subjected to work in 100 degree weather with no shade and very little water to keep hydrated. In fact, “one day of sugarcane cutting can be compared to running half a marathon, in terms of physical efforts”, says Lieneke Wieringa, advocacy manager for Fairfood International.
Since workers get paid per ton of sugar cane they cut, which is less than a dollar per ton, they work as much as possible with little rest or proper hydration for six months straight to earn a decent wage that they can’t get anywhere else….they will choose literally work themselves to death.
Read more about what people are doing to help sugarcane workers in Nicaragua here.
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Once again, the year 2020 is delivering a shocker but this time it‘s in the form of devastation caused by a record-breaking hurricane season. So far, the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season, which is set to end on Nov. 30, has had 30 named storms, 13 of them hurricanes. And six of those hurricanes were considered “major”— Eta and Iota among them — meaning they were Category 3 or higher.
Meteorologists have been forced to use the Greek alphabet to name the new systems after having exhausted the 21-name list that is prepared for each hurricane season. The last time the Greek alphabet was used was in 2005, when there were 28 storms strong enough to be named.
Now, as Hurricane Iota ravages Central America, it’s becoming clear that an imminent humanitarian catastrophe is setting up across the region.
Hurricane Iota is ravaging Central America just two weeks after communities there were hit by Hurricane Eta.
Late on Monday, Hurricane Iota made landfall as a powerful and “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane. Aside form the catastrophic winds and life-threatening storm surge, the hurricane is impacting already devastated communities recently hit by Hurricane Eta.
People across Central America will feel the impacts of this record breaking storm, which is expected to produce up to 30 inches of rain in some areas of Nicaragua and Honduras through Friday. The intense rainfall could lead to significant flash flooding and mudslides in higher elevations, the hurricane center said.
Dozens of Indigenous communities were evacuated throughout the weekend in Nicaragua and Honduras, where the military shared pictures on Twitter of soldiers helping people out of stilted wooden homes and carrying them to safety. One of the soldiers stood in knee deep water, holding a resident’s pink backpack in the same arm as his service weapon.
The forecast, at least, offers some hope for those in Iota’s path. The National Hurricane Center expects the storm to rapidly weaken over the next 36 hours as it moves toward El Salvador across the mountainous terrain of inland Nicaragua and Honduras.
Honduras was hit particularly hard by Hurricane Eta.
Central America is still reeling from Hurricane Eta, which struck less than two weeks ago and made landfall about 15 miles from where Iota did. Aid workers are still struggling to reach communities cut off by washed-out bridges, downed trees and flooded roads.
According to the Red Cross, more than 3.6 million people across the region have been affected by the storms.
Antonio Herrera told Mitú in an interview that his modest home had already been reduced to rubble by Eta. Herrera and his daughter were staying in an improvised shelter but it’s directly in the path of Hurricane Iota. A GoFundMe has been setup to help Herrera and his family recover from the devastation wrought by both hurricanes.
“This Hurricane Iota is a monster,” he said. “After Eta and the damaged it caused, I’m afraid for all of us.”
Herrera added that even without a disaster devastating the region, Honduras is a country where half the population doesn’t have enough food to eat. And now, because of Hurricane Eta, Herrera counts himself among that group of Hondurans.
He adds that, “Honduras is a challenging place just to make sure that the everyday needs are met. And of course, all of this happening during a global pandemic — no possibility of social distancing, obviously, in those sheltering situations.”
Many Central American leaders are blaming climate change for the disasters and are seeking international aid.
As the region is pummeled by storm after storm, the leaders of Honduras and Guatemala have called for in increase in international funding to help combat the effects of climate change – which are having an outsized impact on the region.
“Central America is not the producer of this climate change situation,” the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, said at a news conference. “Instead, we are the most affected.”
President Orlando has called on the United Nations to declare Central America as the region most affected by climate change worldwide.
“Hunger, poverty and destruction do not have years to wait,” said Alejandro Giammattei, the Guatemalan leader. “If we don’t want to see hordes of Central Americans looking to go to countries with a better quality of life, we have to create walls of prosperity in Central America.”
Disclaimer: The author of this story has a personal connection with Antonio Herrera, a victim of these storms in Honduras mentioned in this story. The GoFundMe for Herrera was created before this story was written but was included as many GoFundMe fundraisers arewhen relevant.
As Central America works to recover from Hurricane Eta, the region was devastated again by Hurricane Iota. Hurricanes of this strength this late in the season are extremely rare. The death toll is coming in from the storm battered region.
Nicaragua and other Central American countries are reeling from a second massive storm.
More than 40 deaths have already been reported from Hurricane Iota. Hurricane Eta killed 189 people across several countries in Central America. Iota made landfall in Nicaragua as a stronger storm than Eta, which also made landfall in Nicaragua. Much like Eta, Iotas has triggered landslides in the region. The devastation left by the two storms is in the billions as rescues are currently underway to find hundreds of missing people.
“I think you’re going to be seeing an increase in migration month after month after month because of the compounding nature of this,” Giovanni Bassu regional representative for Central America for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), told Reuters.
Update November 6, 2020
Hurricane Eta slammed into Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 140 mph. It quickly dropped to a Category 2 but continued to bring devastating rains to the rest of Central America for days. About 50 people in Central America have died.
Central America is reeling from the devastating impact of Hurricane Eta.
Hurricane Eta made landfall Nov. 3 as a Category 4 storm. Millions of Central Americans were in the path of the storm that brought devastating winds and rains. Landslides throughout the area have resulted in dozens of deaths and the rain has left tremendous flooding from Panama to Guatemala.
The storm has now shifted and is passing over Cuba before hitting Florida Monday. The storm is bringing similarly devastating floods to the Caribbean island.
There are ways to keep helping the victims of Hurricane Eta.
Several NGOs and humanitarian organizations are already taking donations to help those affected by the storm. If you would like to help, there is also a GoFundMe raising money for the Ruth Paz Foundation. You can also donate to Food For The Poor, which is sending aid to Hondurans affected by the storm.
The recent hurricane season has been intense and filled with powerful storm. The latest storm to make landfall is Hurricane Eta. The story made landfall in Nicaragua as a Category 5 hurricane bringin devastating winds and rain.
A Category 4 hurricane made landfall in Nicaragua as the U.S. presidential election was fully underway.
Hurricanes this late in the year are very rare. More rare is the intensity the storm develop so close to shore. Hurricane season in the Atlantic is June to November but 2020 has been a very active season. There have been 12 named hurricanes, five of which were Category 3 and above.
Images of Hurrcane Eta show a storm rapidly intensifying right before making landfall.
The hurricane has sustained winds of 140 mph when it made landfall and has dropped since. Eta is currently a Category 2 hurricane and is hovering over Central America bring more wind and rain damage. Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize are all feeling the storm as it slowly makes its way through Central America.
Eta is the third major hurricane since October.
Part of Nicaragua’s coastline experienced 21-foot storm surges as the country braced for the storm. Hurricane warnings covered 150 miles of Nicaragua’s coastline. More than 1 million people were affected by the the storm that is expected to make its way to Florida on Monday as a tropical storm.
Some Twitter users have been able to share some of the damage being done.
The storm started to create flooding and wind damage before making landfall. The storm was so strong before landfall that various countries were feeling the effects as it moved through the Caribbean.
If you want to help those affected, you can start with the American Red Cross.
The American Red Cross is already mobilizing to help the people of Central America. We will update you as more organizations start efforts to help Central America recover from this hurricane in the midst of a pandemic.