By Anny Castro I
Puerto Lempira (Honduras), September 23 (EFE)- Divers who have suffered physical damage while fishing in the depths of the Caribbean of Honduras without the necessary protection are asking for help so as not to continue to put their lives in danger, this which has been ignored for years by the state, which has not fully complied with a 2021 judgment in favor of 42 natives.
“There is no support,” the president of the Association of Disabled Divers of the Mosquitia (Amhbli), Erasmo Granuel, told Efe, sitting in a wheelchair at the entrance of his wooden house.
Making an effort to speak, Granuel said there are “over 3,000 divers” who are disabled when fishing for lobster, snail and sea cucumber at depths over 40 meters, so that the maximum allowed is 30 to avoid damage.
“The 3,000 (infirm) divers have nothing, not a penny,” insisted the Miskito leader, who regrets that the Mosquitia, a region to the east, facing the Caribbean, bordering Nicaragua, is being forgotten by the authorities.
Most of the more than 100,000 residents of six municipalities in the department of Gracias a Dios, where the Mosquitia is located, work in fishing for private companies that pay 95 lempiras ($3.85) per pound (464 grams) of lobster and snail, according to their complaints.
Granuel, partially paralyzed after twelve years of diving, asked the government for “help” with health, education and housing for divers paralyzed by injuries, in some cases to the brain and in others to the limbs.
One such case is that of Emsly Emus Rivas, a 78-year-old Miskito who was confined to a wheelchair in 1984 and uses diapers constantly due to decompression injuries, as due to lack of resources he cannot couldn’t get treatment. in the hyperbaric chamber.
Rivas depends on his wife, Sebera Pérez, and their daughter, Saira Rivas, to eat and move from his bed to an old wheelchair in which he spends all day sitting in the doorway of another house of his daughters, in which six other people also live.
Economical repairs partially completed
Another disabled diver is Evelito London, who lost near total hearing in his ears due to decompression syndrome he suffered from diving in the depths of the sea without the necessary protection.
London is one of the Honduran Miskitos who in 2003 denounced various human rights violations before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a case for which Honduras was condemned on October 14, 2021 by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Human Rights (CorteIDH), which ordered a series of economic reparations, which so far have been partially executed.
The Inter-American Court ordered the State of Honduras to provide scholarships, housing, economic projects and the making of a documentary on the Miskito divers, actions which, according to Granuel, only partially benefit the 42 plaintiffs, 32 of whom are already dead. .
London and Ral Balderramos, another diver who has difficulty walking, are two of the Miskito indigenous people who received housing and financial compensation from the government as part of the IACHR ruling, which approved a settlement agreement between the state and the victims.
The Amhbli also asks for support to train people who are dedicated to spearfishing, most of them without adequate protection to dive into the depths of the sea, which on many occasions causes decompression and must receive treatment in the hyperbaric chamber.
However, not all the divers involved have the support of the boat owner to pay for the treatment, which fluctuates between 3,500 and 7,500 lempiras (between 142 and 304 dollars) for each session in the Puerto hospital’s hyperbaric chamber. Lempira.
More hyperbaric chambers
Given the high number of disabled divers, the MP for Gracias a Dios, Erika Urtecho, is asking the government to provide more hyperbaric chambers for the Mosquitia.
“The government is obligated, after the Inter-American Court’s ruling, to provide hyperbaric chambers,” Urtecho said.
He regretted that the State “has not moved forward” as it should in respecting the decision of the IACHR, even if he “hopes and is convinced” that the government led by Xiomara Castro “will comply with all “.
“These men who were affected at the time are leaving children and women without support because they cannot go back to work (…), but it is not only necessary to think of these 42 (complainants), the number of disabled divers is much higher and continues to add up,” he added.
The deputy pleaded for “more political will” and “articulated efforts” to create a policy of regulation, monitoring of fishing boats in the Mosquitia.
“Oblivion and marginalization are historic in the department of Gracias a Dios and we continue to see it,” stressed Urtecho, who asked the government and the international community to “work as a team” to “get ahead” of the population. of the Mosquito. .
The rights of indigenous peoples in Honduras “continue to be violated”, stressed Urtecho, who promotes the creation of a diving school to train divers, set up a comprehensive rehabilitation center and reform of the law on the sin.
Web edition: JuanK Ochoa