Food Delivery slow going in Honduras

Food Crisis Growing in Honduras Cities

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.

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Please enjoy Devil Put the Coal in the Ground

Thanks to WAMF.

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Serving Meals in Delhi

From Street Demos to Solidarity Work

Pearl River     What do mass-based organizations and social movements do when their tactics of mass action, disruption, and street protests are impossible due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing?  Do collective actions simply devolve into solitary moans on social media?  No, never!  Mass-based organizations assemble the base into action in another way to serve their members.  Let’s call it solidary or support work, and for all of the companies and governments who think that the dissipation of direct action is a silver lining in the cloud of the coronavirus, here’s bad news for you:  It’s making us stronger!

In the United Kingdom in recent weeks, ACORN mobilized 3500 volunteers to support individuals stuck at home and without services, to support food banks, to pick up groceries and drug prescriptions, and you name it.  Add to that circulating a petition that gained thousands of signatures to stop evictions and demand rent relief for its members.  Throw in this special distribution which is getting props from media throughout the country:

Coronavirus: Latest Information for Renters by ACORN. For those concerned about their housing during the ongoing pandemic, ACORN has a section providing information.

Membership is soaring!

The work gets really direct for ACORN Delhi, where we and one of our affiliates, Janaphal, administer more than a dozen night shelters for migrant workers who were caught by the government shutdown order and police action without work, and therefore income, and of course food as well.  Suddenly, we are running seven kitchens in the centers and during the week went from serving 3000 meals a day to 7000 and still rising.  The government is supposed to reimburse us, but the government was supposed to provide food to these workers during the shutdown.  People come first, as long as we can get the food to cook.

The stories abound throughout the ACORN federation of organizations, but it’s solidarity work with a bite, as collective actions continue where essential workers continue to labor.  In France, our affiliate in Lyon, Uniti, coordinated a strike of security workers being forced to work without personal protection equipment (PPE), and won. In Louisiana, workers in MH/MR community homes run by the giant national service company, ResCare, were left without adequate protection or quarantine procedures once a resident contracted the virus.  Workers passed petitions and joined Local 100 United Labor Unions to demand more from ResCare, despite threats of retaliation. Membership is soaring!

This is happening everywhere.

In Hong Kong, as reported by the Washington Post, “Rather than continuing to plug mass demonstrations, anti-government activists have used the networks they built during months of organizing to import more than 100,000 medical masks and distribute them to people in need.”  In Chile, “they’re also moving to adapt. They’ve been callingcacerolazos — balcony-bound pot-and-pan-banging protests traditional in Latin America — loud enough to drown out music and conversation inside homes. An artist’s collective, Intermediate Depression, published an illustrated “manual for protesting from home” on Instagram, encouraging Chileans to deck their balconies with protest signs, “share [their] favorite songs with [their] neighborhood” and engage in cyberactivism.”

Trust me on this.  In crisis we double down.  People learn what the slogan, “The People United Shall Never Be Defeated,” means in daily life, not just on the streets.

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