In a press conference on March 16th, the President of Guatemala declared more severe restrictions at a national level. Some of them were: full suspension of public transportation, shut down of governmental and private activities, total ban on group gatherings in public places, physical contact, closure of borders, etc.
In addition, the Government makes the recommendation of washing hands, using face masks and hand sanitizer, and to pray. For some Guatemalans these restrictions might be fine, but what happens with Guatemalans in rural communities we wish to highlight today? It is not plausible to recommend washing hands when there is no access to water, or it is severely limited and used for other more important priorities: to drink, as one example.
Perhaps prohibiting public activities is not that overwhelming for Governmental authorities, but in rural areas it may mean life or death. Terminating group gatherings could represent whether a family can eat or not, if they can seek healthcare or not. A few days ago in a meeting with our rural communities a woman expressed: “The truth is that here, children and women have died from not having access to health care from other diseases. I feel fear because we are the most affected. ‘The rope breaks on the weaker side’ is a common saying, indicating how fragile we are as we sit in the middle of an already collapsed system of healthcare and now trying to confront another risk.”