A Sunday call with ACORN Honduras organizers brought the harrowing issue of food insecurity home to me with a vengeance.
New Orleans Central America doesn’t get the press on the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s as real there as it is in other countries, except perhaps more dangerous since these countries lack the same level of infrastructure and capacity. Guatemala managed to break into the news cycle recently with a plea to the White House that it halt deportations from the United States southern border that risked importing coronavirus cases into the country’s weak infrastructure. A Sunday call with ACORN Honduras organizers brought the harrowing issue of food insecurity home to me with a vengeance.
ACORN has worked for years in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, along with the colonias and smaller cities supporting the maquila industries around the San Pedro Sula manufacturing hub. Both cities and much of the country are on stay-at-home orders, but it’s complicated. Residents are allowed different days when they are allowed to leave their homes in order to buy groceries, go to the bank, or other essential errands. The system is based on the last digits in the national identity cards for all Hondurans. Organizers report though that no matter the design of the system, Fridays are the biggest days, perhaps because of the impending weekend, although the sequencing was technically designed to regulate the flow evenly throughout the weekdays. What this has meant is huge lines at bank ATMs, groceries, and pharmacies and shortages particularly involving food.
In the best of times hunger is an issue in the communities where ACORN lives. Food insecurity is such a dainty euphemism for the gripping pain and damage of persistent hunger approaching famine. The government has promised to provide 800,000 food packets that they claim will be delivered to homes in lower income areas that would provide basic requirements for several weeks. The government also has publicly committed $2.5 billion in relief, but without details. The President and members of his family have been caught in a drug trafficking scandal with indictments in the United States. More than ten years after golopistas upended the government, the fallout continues and includes suspicious election results, terms that breach the constitution, an unpopular regime, and a divided populace, all of which leads to concerns about the transparency of the relief expenditures.
Organizers report that the government has been slow to implement the program and delivery seems to favor some areas over others, exacerbating hunger and fear in our membership. Trying to get a grip on reality, we are organizing our members to report where food is being delivered and where it is not, so we can create a map with geocoding in order to pressure the government for an equitable and transparent food delivery system. Members are in constant touch via telephone, texting, and WhatsApp, so we’re hoping we can assemble the data on the ground that leverages basic food needs in our communities.
Some parts of the world can cry about toilet paper and the run on hot dogs and hamburger, while for countries like Honduras, its about the basics of having enough rice and beans to survive the pandemic.
Wade Rathke is founder and chief organizer of ACORN and ACORN International. You can find Wade’s recent past posts here Chief Organizer Reports. And you can link to his website here Chief Organizer ACORN/ACORN International