After I was in Nicaragua a few months back, I posted the following on the Nightshade Discussion Board:
While in Managua we saw some cane workers picketing the National Assembly and went over and asked them what was up. They told us of a disease that had killed five thousand people over the past three years in Chichigalpa. Chichigalpa is owned literally by Carlos Pelas, the wealthiest man in Honduras. He owns, among other things, Flor De Cana rum, which is produced in Chichigalpa. How powerful a man is he? He kept his wealth and his plantations during the Sandinista regime, which meant he paid off certain high-ranking Sandanistas. Do the name Daniel Ortega ring a bell, Recently he had the National Assembly declare a 40 story office building a hotel so he wouldn't have to pay taxes on it.
Anyway, the workers called the disease the yellow disease because it gave its victims a jaundiced look. It affected the kidneys, sometimes shrinking them to the size of walnuts, so the victims couldn't urinate and swelled up. Often their faces would get so swollen, they became monstrous, unrecognizable. Eventually there was a complete organ breakdown and they bled from every oriifce. They attributed the disease to a powder they spread over the cane field by hand, without masks or amy protection. At the beginning of each season, Flor De Cana gave the workers a blood test, but wouldn't tell them what it was for. Some workers were told they couldn't work any more, and this was essentially a kiss of death, as those workers shortly fell ill (within 3 years) and died. The chemical is now in the ground water and the wells that provide water to the town, so everyone in the town is on a deathwatch.
They invited us to Chichigalpa to see for ourselves. To cut a long story short, while in Chichigalpa we were invited to witness a death. The man who was dying and his family invited us to watch because they wanted the story to get out. We bought them a cell phone and told then to call when the time fame and we'd be there with our cameras.
We came back two nights later. We were paranoid, because it doesn't pay to be messing around in these company towns. There were drunks stumbling in the streets, cops cars parked everywhere, frightened faces peering out the windows. The dying man's house was a one room casita lit by a single light bulb. There were never less than a dozen people crammed inside, and I had a feeling that a goodly precentage of them lived there. the man went through stages of delirium when he didnt recognize anyone and shouted incoherently. Then he'd pass out. Sometimes he'd be clear when he woke and during one of these clear phases he gave us his last words -- he wanted everyone to put aside their differences and stop this thing that was killing them. Toward the end he got very cold and they wrapped him in blankets and put a hat on his head. He hadn't swelled up, but he bled copiously. I don't want to write more. but I'm going to put up some pictures that tell the story. I am writing about it, but it goes slowly--it was an incredibly harrowing experience. Women were screaming and one woman was reading Bible verses at the top of her voice and you could feel a strange gravity in the room. I guess that's all for now.
If you want to see some pictures of this, go to:http://www.nightshadebooks.com/discus/messages/32/6998.html?1175614831
Then scroll down to Jan. 15th.
Anyway, I'm happy to say that bottled water, enough so the children at least can stop drinking poison, is now going in to Chichigalpa. And more is coming--we hope to be able to supply clean water to everyone in the town within the next few months, thanks to Robert Isdepski at Sub Ocean Safety and various people too numerous to name here.
It's a little victory, but it sure makes me happy. I'll be posting more on this in the coming months. And going down again in the fall to cause some trouble.