LA REINA, Honduras – Residents of the western Honduras village of La Reina, which was buried on Nov. 24 in a landslide, rely on their Christian faith and believe none of its residents died in the disaster because God did not want it to happen.
“There were no deaths here because God did not want them,” Rosendo Ramirez, one of the victims of 100 families who lived in La Reina, located in the department of Santa Barbara, told EFE.
The cause of the landslide was the heavy rain brought by hurricanes Eta and Iota.
Before the incident, La Reina was a picturesque village with a church, houses and trees. Today, there is only a massive pile of earth and rubble.
None of the houses in the village remained intact. The church was dragged, its walls broken into pieces and its roof of thick zinc sheets scattered everywhere.
On a nearby road, some residents now travel on foot or on horseback to cut the little left on their small subsistence farms.
“We lost the village we appreciated so much. It was beautiful, my house was up there,” says Rosendo, mounted on a white horse and machete in hand, while on his way to where his house used to be, taking advantage of the fact that “a few coffee sticks were not ripped out.”
Mariana Ramirez believes that no one died in La Reina “because God did not want his people to be buried.”
Although she and her husband, Omar Villeda, regret the loss of three small houses, they say that “the material can be recovered, life cannot.”
“At night, a rumbling was heard and then another, and our house cracked, then my husband told me: ‘Tomorrow we are leaving, whether you like it or not. We are going to start taking out the little things we have and let’s go because this hill is falling and God does not want his children to be buried in this village,’” the woman added.
The pair, who farm corn, beans and coffee, was able to take a few belongings in a car, but just like the rest of the villagers, don’t know where to go.
Meanwhile, many of La Reina’s victims are in shelters in Valle Verde, along the paved road, about 10 kilometers from La Reina.
Some receive help from a team of Franciscan faithful who, led by priest Leopoldo Serrano, cry for help for the victims, mainly for land in a safe place to populate the new La Reina village, which until about 50 years ago was called El Diluvio (The Deluge), because it rained up to three days in a row, according to historical records.
Without knowing clearly what happened on Nov. 24 in La Reina, Villeda said that for him “it was an earthquake,” because now in a part of what used to be the village “there is a mine of large rocks that weren’t there before,” he says, pointing towards part of the collapsed hillside.
Rosendo, whose father, now deceased, “was also poor,” said that after losing his house, he is renting a place in Valle Verde, with other members of his family, but what they need “is land to build” a new home.
“We don’t know where to go. We want land to build our house. It’s horrible to be wandering from one place to another,” he added.
Priest Serrano told EFE that the political governor of Santa Barbara has promised them that the government headed by Juan Orlando Hernandez will help the victims, but that there is no certainty.
“The government has promised, the president has not told me personally, but we already know. We are used to the government promising many things to the poor, without fulfilling them. It does accomplish things for the rich,” Serrano said.