Students Say Conditions Critical

The global economic storm and a summer of tropical rains have hit the country and our students hard.“In Panajachel, we are living a critical economic situation…, writes Business student Oliva Lopez.

Tropical storm Agatha did Q378 million (about $54,000,000) to agriculture, livestock and food production. Crops most affected are maize, beans, banana and plantain. There will be shortages.

“The roads in and out of Panajachel became virtually impassable because of the mudslides,” Patti Mort of Mayan Families reports.

“Things have not improved since the rains stopped. “The road to Solola (the main administrative town in the area) is completely closed for repairs and it is a two hour trip (instead of fifteen minutes) to go the back way,” she adds.

Medical student Leonardo Elias reports, “The economic situation unfortunately is very poor. The state of the roads is so bad that goods cannot be moved. Prices are rising and this is forcing students out of university.” He also reports that the public violence and high crime rate is impacting severely.

The 2007 financial crisis flattened Guatemala tourism by 75%. Tourism is the economic mainstay of Panajachel and other Lake Atitlan communities.

Reports of cyberbacteria in Lake Atitlan the following year (when many parts of the lake turned red) had a further major impact on tourism.

“This has lead to low occupancy rates in Panajachel hotels, business failures, job losses, job sharing,” says businesswoman Patti Mort.

Patricia Gutierrez, the volunteer Guatemala administrator for CMS says, “Our scholarships were not meant to cover total student expenses, but now it is impossible for them to get part time jobs. They really are unable to help themselves.”


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