View of the forum celebrated at the UFM’s Milton Friedman Auditorium
Photo by Daniel Herrera / Prensa Libre

Guatemalans vulnerability before natural disasters was stated las year during the storm Stan; and people are asking if we, as Guatemalans, are prepared for an earthquake, hurricane or other natural disaster.

With the purpose of creating a prevention culture the Francisco Marroquín University, Rafael Landivar University, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala and the news paper Prensa Libre, they participated in the first forum of the series Perspectives 2006, titled Disasters, are we prepared?

The forum celebrated last April 4th, can be seen
here.

“A friend and professor of the Franciso Marroquín University who lives normally near the Mexico-Texas border says that, when there is a hurricane threat in the area, on the US side the word is spread quickly through radio and television.  Immediately the stores offer hurricane relief kits and promote the Great Hurricane Sale and things like that.  In places like those there is a culture of information and prevention.

In contrast, on the Mexican side, everything is secret and disinformed.  And due to the lack of a prevention culture, they forget that the main reason a government exists is to protect the life and property of the citizens”, explained Luis Figueroa, moderator of the forum and member of the Investigation Board of the Social Economic Studies Center (CEES).

“How many of you are ready for an earthquake?  Who has, in his home, a backpack with a lantern, batteries, extra cloth and some food and water? He asked.

“I wish that when we leave this forum, we go with the idea of making everything possible to prevent a disaster, because that is part of our individual responsibility, he added.

Victor García, from the USACs Disaster Commission noted that “the country should have a priority policy that would oblige the counties to have maps of the risky areas, and the government should assign resources to reduce them”, reported Prensa Libre in its Monday edition last May 8th.

Likewise, Héctor Monzón, seismology expert, explained that “the disaster is not natural man makes it, because it is natural to have rain, as long as people keep building where flooding might occur”.

Gisela Gelert, from URL, observed that “we need a construction code and one for the land use and its regulation because this is a high seismic risk country and we have no construction codes”.

Additionally, Hugo Hernández, from the National Coordinator for Disaster Reductions, said that disaster prevention is everyones responsibility, and not of  an institution; and it is necessary to strengthen the prevention system.