The state of calamity proposed by President Alejandro Giammattei to deal with the devastation caused by Tropical Depression Julia in Guatemala went into effect on October 11 with its publication in the Diario de Centroamérica, the official journal of the Republic.
Preliminary reports indicate that Julia claimed at least 13 lives in Guatemala, victims of flooding and landslides caused by incessant rains that increased vulnerability in moisture-saturated areas during the current “winter,” as the rainy season is called in Central America.
Opposition voices in Guatemala question the relevance of declaring a state of emergency, as it allows the executive branch to make direct purchases to address the emergency without having to account for it, which raises the risk of corruption.
“A state of misfortune to continue the plunder of the people’s resources,” said Sonia Gutiérrez, deputy of the Winaq parliamentary group, in social networks about a measure that was already imposed when COVID-19 entered the country in early 2020 and as recently as last June, due to rains that caused nearly thirty deaths.
The opposition party Semilla also criticized the government’s alleged inability to create the conditions to protect the population, stating that the president will only use this new state of disaster to spend money uncontrollably.
According to the World Risk Report (WRR), Guatemala is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change, ranking 10th among those most likely to be affected by disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, landslides, and volcanic eruptions.
In this context, various civil society actors warn about the lack of a culture of prevention and the meager budgets for institutions such as the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conred), which is responsible for immediate response to emergencies.