By Anny Castro I

Puerto Lempira (Honduras), September 23 (EFE) – Divers who have suffered physical injuries while fishing in the depths of the Honduran Caribbean without the necessary protection are calling for help to stop putting their lives at risk. the country has ignored it for years because it has not fully implemented the 2021 decision in favor of 42 indigenous peoples.

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

Trying to talk, Granuel stated that more than 3,000 divers are disabled fishing for lobster, snail and sea cucumber at depths of more than 40 meters, when a maximum of 30 is allowed to avoid damage.

“The 3,000 divers (sick) have nothing, not a penny,” stressed the Miskito leader, who regrets that Mosquitia, the eastern, Caribbean region bordering Nicaragua, has been forgotten by the authorities.

Emsly Emús Rivas, a diver from the Misquita ethnic group whose health conditions are a result of her work, poses for photos during Efe’s visit. EFE / Gustavo Amador

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

Granuel, who was left partially disabled after 12 years of diving, asked the government for “help” with health, education and housing for the divers, who were injured in some cases of the brain and in some cases of limbs.

One of those cases is Emsly Emus Rivas, a 78-year-old Miskito who was wheelchair-bound in 1984 and constantly in diapers for decompression injuries, unable to seek treatment due to lack of resources. in a 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 his other daughter’s house, also home to six people. other people.

Economic reparations partially fulfilled

Ral Balderramos, a diver from the Misquita ethnic group whose health conditions stem from his trade. EFE / Gustavo Amador

Another disabled diver is Evelito Londres, who lost almost all of his hearing due to decompression syndrome, which occurred when he dived to the depths of the sea without the necessary protection.

London is one of the Honduran Miskitos who condemned various human rights violations at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in 2003. The case for which the Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned Honduras on October 14, 2021. CorteIDH), which ordered a series of economic reparations, which have so far been partially fulfilled.

The Inter-American Court ordered the Honduran state to provide educational scholarships, housing, economic projects and a documentary on Miskito divers, which Granuel said will only partially benefit the 42 plaintiffs, 32 of whom have already died. .

London and Ral Balderramos, another diver who has difficulty walking, are two Miskito indigenous people who have received housing and financial compensation from the government as part of the IACtHR’s decision upholding a friendly settlement between the state and the victims.

Amhbli is also asking for support to train people dedicated to scuba diving, most of whom do not have the proper protection to dive into the depths of the sea, which often leads to decompression and requires treatment in a hyperbaric chamber.

But not all injured divers have the boat owner’s support for treatment, which runs between 3,500 and 7,500 lempira (between $142 and $304) per session at the Puerto Lempira hospital’s hyperbaric chamber.

More hyperbaric chambers

Erasmo Granue (c), president of the Association of Divers with Disabilities in Mosquitia (Amhbli), 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 Mosquitia.

“The government is obliged to provide hyperbaric chambers after the United States court decision,” Urtecho said.

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

“These men who suffered at that time leave children and women without support because they cannot go back to work (…) but we do not have to think only of these 42 (plaintiffs), the number of disabled divers is much larger and to be continued.” he added.

The deputy supported “more political will” and “articulated efforts” to create a policy of regulation, oversight of fishing boats in Mosquitia.

“The oblivion and marginalization of the department of Gracias a Dios is a historical phenomenon and we continue to see it,” stressed Urtecho, who asked the government and the international community to work as a team to “transmit” the mosquito population. .

The rights of Honduran indigenous people “continue to be violated,” stressed Urtecho, who advocates the creation of a diving school to train divers, the creation of a comprehensive rehabilitation center and reform of the fishing law.

Online edition: JuanK Ochoa

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