The Guardian October 10, 2001


1.5 million starving in Central America

As the masters of war keep the world's attention riveted on an imminent 
invasion of Afghanistan, tens of thousands of people's lives are in danger 
from a different threat: that of starvation.

Some million and a half Central Americans, most of them in Honduras with 
the rest in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, have for months been 
surviving on plants, roots and some fruits.

Their harvests have been destroyed by this year's drought and they have no 
way of pulling up stakes and moving on to another region.

The United Nations World Food Program has offered help to a little more 
than 300,000 people, less than a fifth of those affected. Now they have 
announced that their food reserves are insufficient and will soon run out 
even as the numbers in urgent need of food, especially children, grow by 
the minute.

And the tragedy will touch more than those who die: those who manage to 
survive will be marked for life. According to physician Hector Cespedes, 
one of the 15 Cuban doctors currently working in the town of Jocotan in 
eastern Guatemala. Hunger in the area has become so endemic that the harm 
done to the children is already irreversible  with stunted growth and 
limited intellectual ability having become the norm.

In Honduras, where there are 800,000 people on the verge of starvation, 
half will not survive until the next harvest without urgent assistance. The 
World Food Program and the International Red Cross have issued emergency 
calls to the developed nations to make extra donations if they are to save 
lives.

On September 29, Cuban President Fidel Castro affirmed that none of the 
world's most critical problems can be solved by force.

To maintain independence and dignity without war is the cornerstone of the 
struggle for a truly just world of free peoples, noted President Castro.

Maintaining peace also means eliminating hunger, giving children an 
opportunity to have a future, giving humanity a feeling of decency and 
solidarity which is so needed now. It is only in this way that we can avoid 
tragedies like that which is happening at this moment in Central America.

* * *
Radio Havana, Cuba

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