Honduran divers hurt by lobster fishing

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

Annie Castro I

Puerto Lempira (Honduras), 23 September (EFE). Divers who are physically injured while fishing in the depths of Honduras’ Caribbean Sea without proper protection are demanding help to avoid putting their lives in danger, something that was ignored for years by the state, which did not fully implement a 2021 decision in favor of 42 indigenous people.

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

Making an effort, Granuel claimed that there are “more than 3,000 divers” who become disabled while fishing for lobsters, snails and sea cucumbers at depths of more than 40 meters, when the maximum is 30, to avoid damage.

“3,000 (disabled) divers have nothing, not a penny,” insisted the Miskito leader, who laments that Mosquitia, a region to the east facing the Caribbean Sea bordering Nicaragua, has been forgotten by the authorities.

Emsley Emus Rivas, a Miskita diver who has health problems related to his work, poses for photos during a visit to Efe. EFE / Gustavo Amador

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

Granuel, partially crippled after twelve years of diving, appealed to the government for “assistance” in the areas of health, education and housing for divers who suffered injuries in some cases to the brain and in others to the limbs.

One such case is that of Emsley Emus Rivas, a 78-year-old Miskito who was wheelchair-bound and constantly diapered in 1984 due to decompression injuries, as he was unable to receive treatment due to a lack of resources. in a hyperbaric chamber.

Rivas depends on his wife, Sebera Perez, and their daughter, Saira Rivas, to eat and move from his bed to an old wheelchair in which he spends all day sitting at the door of another of his daughters’ home, which also houses six others. people.

Economic reparations partially fulfilled

Ral Balderramos, a Miskita diver who has health problems related to his profession. EFE / Gustavo Amador

Another disabled diver is Evelito Londres, who almost completely lost his hearing in his ears due to decompression syndrome, which he developed while diving into the depths of the sea without the necessary protection.

London is one of the Honduran Miskitos who, in 2003, condemned various human rights violations in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a case in which Honduras was sentenced on 14 October 2021 by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CorteIDH), which ordered a number of economic reparations, which are still partially fulfilled.

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

London and Ral Balderramos, another hard-to-walk diver, are two Miskito natives who received housing and financial compensation from the government as part of an IACtHR ruling that approved a settlement between the state and the victims.

Amhbli is also asking for support to train spearfishers, most of whom do not have adequate protection to dive into the deep sea, which in many cases causes decompression and must be treated in a hyperbaric chamber.

However, not all affected divers have the support of the boat owner to pay for treatment, which ranges from 3,500 to 7,500 lempira ($142 to $304) for each session in the pressure chamber of the Puerto Lempira hospital.

More pressure chambers

President of the Association of Disabled Divers of Mosquitia (Amhbli) Erasmo Granue (c) receives help from his relatives for his mobility. EFE / Gustavo Amador

Given the large number of disabled divers, Gracias a Dios’ deputy Erica Urtejo is asking the government to provide more pressure chambers for Mosquitia.

“The government is obliged, after the verdict of the Inter-American Court, to provide pressure chambers,” Urteko said.

He expressed regret that the state “has not progressed properly” in implementing the IACtHR ruling, although he “hopes and believes” that the government led by Xiomara Castro “will abide by everything.”

“Those men who suffered at that time leave children and wives without support because they cannot return to work (…), but we must not only think about those 42 (plaintiffs), the number of disabled divers is much higher and continues add,” he added.

The MP called for “more political will” and “formulate efforts” to create a policy of regulation, oversight of fishing boats in Mosquitia.

“Oblivion and marginalization is a historical phenomenon in the department of Gracias a Dios and we continue to see it,” said Urtejo, who called on the government and the international community to “work as a team” to “get ahead” of the population of Mosquitia. .

The rights of the indigenous peoples of Honduras “continue to be violated,” said Urtecho, who is pushing for the establishment of a diving school to train divers, the opening of a comprehensive rehabilitation center and the reform of the Fisheries Law.

Web Edition: Juan C. Ochoa

Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org

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