German Chub Choc is a young man who lives in Guatemala, paralyzed from a close range gunshot in 2009. The story of how he was paralyzed is a series of injustices that deserves to be heard.
German was shot by a security guard representing Canadian owned nickel-mining company, HudBay Minerals. A lawsuit has been filed against the company for the shooting in fact, with a lot of legal wrangling going on.
The thing about this shooting that has garnered t so much attention is that it was completely unprovoked. Apparently, mining companies that have set up shop here treat the locals with incredible disdain. And while getting shot unprovoked is bad enough, can you imagine getting injured and having to stay indefinitely in a country like Guatemala? How do you live?
The good news is that there is actually a really impressive rehab center here called the Transitions Foundation, which takes a holistic perspective on the welfare of Guatemalans with disabilities and advocates for the rights and social inclusion of them. They have a wheelchair workshop, offer training and vocational opportunities and they offer adapted sports; things we all know can make or break a having a “good” life when you have a disability.
And the international community has come to help. To make sure German can take care of his son, as well as pay for his health care needs, a shop has been built for him (attached to his brother’s house), which he runs each day. Brilliant idea, and one other countries should think about for their disabled citizens. Granted, not every person in a wheelchair is going to make money running some kind of store, but it’s a good idea when you’re in a developing country.
What I think is important about German’s story is that a lot of us in U.S. don’t think about other people with SCI in other countries, or if we do, not very deeply. We need to be more aware of things like this happening, and to help if we can. It can be a very tough break when a SCI happens in developing countries, and an even tougher pill to swallow if you’re injured unjustly.
If you’d like to learn more about German’s story, which has gotten a flurry of attention from human rights activists, visit the most excellent disability rights blog, Edgyamelia written by Ilyse Kramer.