Government defends its response to drought victims

The central government says that its response to the drought in Guanacaste began with a presidential decree in September.

The emergency commission received some bad press when hay for hungry livestock only began to be delivered five days ago.

Ana Helena Chacón, the acting president while Luis Guillermo Solís is in Europe, said that many resources have been delivered.

She included in the list seven treatment plants that are being installed to remove arsenic from the ground water for drinking purposes. The government’s investment will be 1.35 billion colons or about $2.6 million. However, this was a long-standing project because the ground water in many places in Guanacaste contains naturally occurring arsenic. The project is by the Instituto Nacional de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, the national water company, and in some cases is in response to a Sala IV court decree.

The government also said it invested 100 million colons or about $190,000 in the construction and rehabilitation of wells and in repairing water delivery systems and renting tanker trucks to delivery water.

The response from Casa Presidencial came after farmers and ranchers appeared at the legislature earlier in the month to seek the aid that was promised in September.

Vice President Chacón said that since the emergency was decreed in September the central government last year bales061015designated 15 billion colons or about $28 million.

In addition the Instituto Mixta de Ayuda Social designated 800 million colons or about $1.5 million for subsidies for fishermen and some 330 million or about $622,000 for livestock producers.

She also cited expenditures by the road agency in fixing highways and mitigating dust.

The vice president said that there are other sums from the national emergency commission that are in the process of being approved.

What got the attention of most residents was the delivery by the  Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería of hay bales last week. Eventually the hay will be delivered to 4,000 livestock producers.

Still, reports from Guanacaste say that livestock is suffering and many cattle producers are selling off their herds at emergency prices.

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