October 7, 2022

Honduran divers paralyzed by lobster fish

By Anny Castro I

Puerto Lempira, Honduras, Sept. 23 (EFE)- Divers who have suffered physical damage while fishing in the depths of Honduras’ Caribbean without proper protection are demanding help to keep their lives from endangering, something that is ignored for years by the state, which failed to fully comply with a 2021 ruling in favor of 42 indigenous peoples.

“There is no support at all,” the president of the Association of Disabled Divers of the Mosquitia (Ambli), Erasmo Granuel, told Efe, sitting in a wheelchair at the entrance of his log home.

Granuel went out of his way to speak, stating that there are “more than 3,000 divers” who are disabled when fishing for lobster, snail and sea cucumber at depths over 40 meters, while the maximum is 30 to avoid damage.

“The 3,000 divers (crippled) have nothing, not a cent,” insisted Miskito’s leader, who laments the Mosquitia, a region to the east, opposite the Caribbean, bordering Nicaragua, being forgotten by authorities. .

Emsly Emús Rivas, a diver from the Misquita ethnic group with health problems as a result of his work, poses for photos during a visit from Efe. EFE / Gustavo Amador

Most of the more than 100,000 residents of six municipalities in the Gracias a Dios department, where the Mosquitia is located, work in fishing for private companies who pay 95 lempiras ($3.85) per pound (464 grams) of lobster. according to their complaints.

Granuel, who was partially crippled after 12 years of diving, asked the government for “assistance” in health, education and housing for divers crippled from damage, in some cases to the brain and in others to limbs.

One such case is that of Emsly Emus Rivas, a 78-year-old Miskito who in 1984 was confined to a wheelchair and permanently using diapers due to injuries caused by decompression, as he was unable to undergo treatment due to lack of resources. 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 sits all day in the doorway of another home of his daughters, which also contains six other people.

Economic reparations partially fulfilled

Ral Balderramos, a diver from the Misquita ethnic group with health problems stemming from his profession. EFE / Gustavo Amador

Another disabled diver is Evelito Londres, who almost completely lost his hearing in his ears as a result of the decompression syndrome he suffered from diving into the depths of the sea without the necessary protection.

London is one of the Honduran Miskitos who denounced several human rights violations before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in 2003, a case for which Honduras was convicted on October 14, 2021 by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Human Rights (CorteIDH), which ordered a series of economic reparations, which have so far been partially implemented.

The Inter-American Court ordered the state of Honduras to provide scholarships, housing, economic projects and the making of a documentary about the Miskito divers, actions Granuel said will only partially benefit the 42 plaintiffs, 32 of whom are already dead. passed away .

London and Ral Balderramos, another diver with walking difficulties, are two of the Miskito indigenous people who have received government housing and financial compensation as part of the IACtHR ruling, which seeks an amicable settlement between the state and the victims. confirmed.

The Amhbli also asks for support for the training of people who are committed to diving with fish, most of them without proper protection to dive in the depths of the sea, which in many cases causes decompression and treatment in the hyperbaric chamber.

However, not all affected divers have the support of the boat owner to pay for the treatment, which ranges between 3,500 and 7,500 lempiras (between $142 and $304) for each session in the hyperbaric chamber of the Puerto Lempira Hospital.

More hyperbaric chambers

The president of the Association of Disabled Divers of the Mosquitia (Ambli), Erasmo Granue (c), gets help from his relatives for his mobility. EFE / Gustavo Amador

Given the large number of disabled divers, Gracias a Dios’ deputy Erika Urtecho is asking the government to provide more hyperbaric chambers for the Mosquitia.

“The government is obliged, after the judgment of the Inter-American Court, to provide hyperbaric chambers,” Urtecho said.

He lamented that the state “has not made progress” in complying with the IACtHR ruling, although he “hopes and trusts” that the government led by Xiomara Castro “will comply with everything”.

“The men who were affected at the time leave children and wives unsupported because they can no longer work (…), but we should not only think about those 42 (claimants), the number of disabled divers is much higher and continues to add up ,” he added.

The deputy called for “more political will” and “articulate efforts” to create a regulatory policy, overseeing fishing boats in the Mosquitia.

“Forgotten and marginalization is 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” on the population of the Mosquitia .

The rights of the indigenous peoples of Honduras “continue to be violated,” stressed Urtecho, who is promoting the establishment of a diving school to train divers, a comprehensive rehabilitation center and a reform of the fishing law.

Web Edition: JuanK Ochoa

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