Blog category for health and safety updates at the global sites.

Update from Guatemala

The El Fuego Volcano in Guatemala erupted this past weekend causing 70+ fatalities and missing persons, damage to towns near the volcano, and the closing of highways and the international airport (now reopened) in Guatemala City.  See recent updates as of June 6.

CGEE programs and staff were not impacted by the eruption. There were no programs running at the time, and our program base is in Quetzaltenago (Xela) which is located over 100 miles from El Fuego.

INGUAT (The Guatemalan Institute of Tourism) made the following statement: “All of the major tourist destinations – such as Tikal National Park, the Semuc Champey Natural Monument, Lake Atitlan, Quetzaltenango,and the Pacaya Volcano, among others – are fully operational and are not under any restrictions….”

Augsburg University’s Center for Global Education & Experience stands in solidarity with those impacted by this tragedy. PBS has compiled a short list of organizations taking donations for the aid of the local people affected.

 

April 2018 Update: Nicaragua

April 2018 Update: Nicaragua

Despite emerging indications that the government of Nicaragua may work out a peaceful resolution to the civil unrest affecting the country, we have decided to err on the side of caution and end our semester program early. Students have returned to the United States.  We are working with our faculty to develop a plan that will allow students to finish the remaining three weeks of classes from the Nicaragua segment of the program through virtual means.

For organizations with planned custom short-term May programs to Nicaragua, we are discussing possibilities for each on a case by case basis.

While it is entirely possible that the situation in Nicaragua will improve later this week or next, making the decision to end the program early seem unnecessary, student safety—our top priority—requires us to favor current information over speculation.

For questions please contact globaled@augsburg.edu

Update (Evening of Sunday April 22)

President Ortega has held a press conference announcing the revocation of the social security increase that triggered the street protests, and has invited the business sector and the church to a dialogue. We are not clear if this will be enough to unwind the protests in the coming days, but we are optimistic that the dialogue will bear fruit within a few weeks, restoring calm over the summer.

Update (Morning of Tuesday April 24)

Semester students all confirmed at their gates at the airport, awaiting flights home. Mark Lester, Site Director for CGEE Central America, is with them until all have safely left the country.

CGEE staff and their families remain safe and accounted for.

Generosity, Love, and Support After Earthquake

A special message from Ann Lutterman-Aguilar, CGEE-Mexico Site Director:

Despite the terrible tragedies caused by the recent earthquakes in Mexico, people are recovering amazingly quickly and demonstrating the incredible warmth and generosity of the Mexican spirit. Small mom and pop businesses have been giving out food and supplies to survivors of the earthquake, as have hardware stores and other businesses.  Almost everywhere you go, you see people who have set up relief collection centers in their homes, and people going to drop off donations. Many schools are serving as shelters for people whose homes were destroyed or damaged in the earthquake, and our state university is helping to coordinate relief efforts throughout the state. The government has opened up toll roads and made them free so that people can travel more easily and inexpensively during this time.  Even a lot of banks have stopped charging a fee to withdraw money regardless of whether it is your bank. These are just a few of the endless examples of the overwhelming love and solidarity being shared by ordinary citizens and all kinds of institutions.

The international response to the earthquake has also been tremendous.  On Friday, I witnessed the arrival of 15 Canadian women rescue workers with their rescue dogs. They received a huge round of applause everywhere they went in the earthquake because people could identify them as a result of the vests that both the women and dogs were wearing.  And the Canadians aren’t alone.  People from the United States and Cuba and all over the world have been helping out in person and through donations.  As a result, students and customized program participants have an incredible opportunity to learn from a wide range of people about what schools, social workers, activists, ordinary citizens, governments, and businesses do to respond to emergency situations.

Our current semester students were with their host families during the last (and worst) earthquake here last Tues., September 19, and they and their Mexican families were all fine.  In addition, the staff in our study center are all fine, and no one lost a home or has had to evacuate, although a few staff members have some damage to their homes. We are among the lucky ones, as are all of our current host families and all of the host families in the neighborhood of Plan de Ayala.

While lives and homes were lost in Cuernavaca, most of the largest tragedies took place in the southeastern part of the state of Morelos, closest to the epicenter of the quake.  Towns such as Jojutla and Axopian and Tenancingo were devastated.   Ixtlilco el Grande, where many CGEE students (especially in the Social Work program) have participated in rural homestays lost at least 15 homes, some of which belong to former host families. Those who haven’t been to Ixtlilco but have studied in Mexico may have learned about the circulatory migration between that town and Minneapolis from Augsburg adjunct professor Raziel Valino, who is completing her doctoral dissertation on that topic. She reports that the host families are physically fine and recovering from the trauma.  Even as they work to rebuild their own homes, they are helping out the other towns in their region that have suffered greater loss. Again, the show of solidarity is very inspiring.

Amatlan de Quetzalcoatl, where numerous CGEE groups have had homestays, also suffered from the earthquake.  Like Ixtlilco, Amatlan did not suffer the loss of lives, but numerous homes were destroyed, including that of elderly farmer Dona Irene Ramirez, who has often given talks about her heirloom corn and her views of GMO corn.

If you have already donated to earthquake relief in Mexico, thank you.  If you haven’t and would like to, there are many great organizations that could use your help.  The following link provides a few great suggestions for how to help:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/20/reader-center/donate-mexico-earthquake-.html.

CGEE-Mexico is currently trying to compile a list of host families who lost homes in Amatlan and Ixtlilco that we can share so that you can know how your former host families are if you have not already been in touch with them. We are also hoping to set up a mechanism to channel funds directly to the CGEE host families in Amatlan and Ixtlilco who lost their homes. Therefore, please stay tuned for updates.

Thank you,

Ann Lutterman-Aguilar

CGEE-Mexico Site Director

 

UPDATE: To donate to our campaign for host families, please visit the go fund me page at: https://www.gofundme.com/earthquake-relief-cgee-host-family

Earthquake Updates

We have confirmed that all CGEE staff and students are safe following the earthquake. Alumni, friends, and family – thank you all for you thoughts of love and support! We will be posting more updates here on our blog as they become available.

Nicaragua Security Update

This post was written by Mark Lester, Regional Director of Central America, office located in Nicaragua. This is in response to the US State Department’s Travel Alert dated June 29, 2016 for Nicaragua, which has since been taken down after the warning expired. 


Within a seven-day period in June, the Nicaraguan government expelled 3 US officials, and 6 foreigners. The first of the three US officials was Evan Ellis, a researcher professor of Latin American Studies for the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College, whose research focus is the canal. He apparently had notified the Nicaraguan government of his visit, and arrived on a diplomatic passport on the same flight as a couple of other US officials on diplomatic passports, But these latter two worked for US Customs, and had arranged their visit with Nicaraguan private enterprise. They were arriving to do a regular inspection of cargo being sent to the US to facilitate the security review required post-Sept 11. Continue reading “Nicaragua Security Update”