Honduras guarantees that it is the fault of Guatemala, but Guatemala does the same, and it is the fault of Honduras. The amount of garbage that has accumulated in the Caribbean Sea, north of Honduras, notably off the islands of Roatán, Omoa or Puerto Cortés, is scary, so much pollution, that it almost forms a “waste island”. Containing everything from household waste, hospital waste – such as syringes, for example – dead animals and even human corpses.
Environment ministers from both countries have met over the last few weeks, but no conclusions have been reached, but the Honduran government has made an ultimatum to Guatemalans, saying they have five weeks to prevent garbage coming from the country to the sea and to Honduran beaches. The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Honduras, José Antonio Galdames, assured the BBC that this garbage will arrive in Guatemala, describing the environmental problem as “unsustainable”, namely for tourism in the country.
“Tourists do not want to go to the beach because they are afraid of being contaminated when they enter the water. It is not good for anyone to lay down the towel, lie down and be bitten by a needle”, Galdames said, adding that the responsibility is for a river running through part of Guatemala: “Most of the Motagua River basin is on the side Guatemalan. Of the 95 municipalities along the river, 27 are dumping solid waste in Motagua. We have only three municipalities that border the Motagua River. That’s why 86% of the discharges come from Guatemala”.
The minister assures that among the inspections that the technicians of his ministry did, were found several objects with the description “Made in Guatemala” (done in Guatemala). “We are receiving clothing, plastic, hospital garbage, bloodied objects, syringes, animals and even human bodies”, accused José Antonio Galdames. The Congener of Guatemala, Sydney Alexander Samuels, denies everything. “Dead bodies? I’ve never heard of corpses. If there are corpses we have to investigate where they come from. I’ve never heard of such a thing. The accusations [of Honduras]only take into account the part of Guatemala. They have a river there, the Chamelecón, which is practically an open sewage”, he told the BBC.
However, Samuels promises to act to reduce pollution. “Yes, we contaminated the Caribbean Sea across the Motagua River. I assure you that next year we will no longer carry trash to the sea, because we will have all the infrastructure so that it will not happen anymore”, he said.
For the Minister of the Environment of Honduras, the measures cannot be in the medium term, having to be immediate. Otherwise, Honduras promises to file a complaint with Guatemalan “neighbors” and seek compensation.
“What we ask is that they take action right now: clean the rivers, clean the beaches, stop throwing garbage. And they have to set up a warning system so we can know the garbage will come. If they do nothing, we will proceed according to what is established in international agreements related to the protection of biological diversity”, said José Antonio Galdames.
Sydney Alexander Samuels reacted and said that “There is no moral to say that they will sue Guatemala or ask for compensation. Let’s solve the problem until August. And what is Honduras doing? Absolutely nothing”.