The island of Santa Cruz del Islote, a hectare of land, 500 people crammed into a cluster of huts tangled.
July 3, 2020 21h50
In full view of the Caribbean sea, confined on an island overpopulated [PHOTOS]
SANTA CRUZ DEL ISLOTE — In the Caribbean sea rises one of the islands the most densely populated areas of the planet: 500 persons live on a hectare of land, off the coast of Colombia. The distancing of physical, vital in these times of pandemic coronavirus, is impossible.
“We are isolated, far from the virus. But yes, we are afraid […] that an infected person arrives on the island, we infect, and we die all”, explains to the AFP Adrian Caraballo, a tour guide for 22 years.
Santa Cruz del Islote, or el Islote (the island) as it is commonly called, battle for decades with the lack of doctor, lack of drinking water and cuts recurring to electricity.
More crowded than Manhattan, where there are 268 people on the 0.01 km2, and its inhabitants are feats of ingenuity and solidarity to cope with shortages.
Santa Cruz del Islote battle for decades with the lack of doctor, lack of drinking water and cuts recurring to electricity.
Photos AFP, Adrian Carballos De Hoyos
But the new coronavirus threat. The British exceeded 100 000 cases and 3400 deaths for a population of 50 million. And two hours boat to Islote, on the coast, lies Cartagena of the Indies, jewels, colonial and tourism, which suffers the worst rates of contagion in the country.
Before you see the COVID-19 landing, the community leaders of the island have established a protocol of containment for any citizen who leaves and comes back.
And Adrian went to a medical appointment “on the continent” and the rest since isolated for fourteen days on Tintinpan, a neighboring island, and a little larger.
The transparent sea, which plays a whole range of green and blue, identifies this cluster of about a hundred huts tangled, no beach. At the center, the place of the cross and around the huts, two jetties and a school.
From tourism to fishing
For the anthropologist, Andrea Leiva, “the pandemic reveals the structural problems of the old”.
“But it is interesting to see how these people find solutions by themselves. Because control of distance physical on an island overpopulated is impossible, and it would be almost ridiculous, knowing that there is not even drinking water”, she adds.
Although no testing has been done, the people say they are saved by the new coronavirus. On the island, there are no masks or restrictions. The children run in all directions. The adults play dominoes. The friends discuss. “In a certain way, we feel protected on the island,” stresses Adrian.
Alexander Atencio has left his students at the beginning of march, when the British has detected its first case of COVID-19. It is confined on the coast, in the village of Tolu, one hour of off-board, where previously it was only weekends.
The government has decreed the continuation of the school year at a distance. But El Islote “is not suitable” to “an education that is 100 % virtual,” explains the professor.
Since then, the school children receive at home exercises to solve and to return by boat to the teachers for scoring.
For these islanders, “containment is not a novelty, since they have always lived at a distance,” says the teacher, adding that are not new, not “the negligence or the lack of public policies”.
El Islote lives essentially from tourism, one of the worst affected areas. Hotels, restaurants and bars of the islands of paradise, the surrounding area have closed. Because of unemployment, “the money is not flowing,” and the economy is paralyzed, says the anthropologist.
Then, “for their own consumption, they are dedicated to the fishing, a traditional practice that has been revived […] but this is not enough,” adds this researcher, that the island is the subject of his doctoral thesis.
Adrian has put his activity into sleep and will not have his bachelor’s this year, but he hopes to reconnect with his projects when “will come to better times”.
Gleisy Barbosa, student at Cartagena, returned to his parents ‘ home when a health emergency has been declared. “As things became difficult, my mother did not what to send me and told me to come back because, as in the island, we are all united, if the neighbor has, the neighbor sharing,” said that young girl of 20 years.
The inhabitants of Santa Cruz del Islote are more crowded than Manhattan, where there are 268 people on the 0.01 km2
According to the anthropologist, “in spite of internal quarrels, normal […] it is a company based on the collective” and “social fabric” may help them to better respond to the pandemic in cities more individualistic”.
Thus, those who can chip in to pay for electricity so that they all have the night. “This is an island that I wouldn’t change for anything in the world,” stresses Adrian, who finished her quarantine and is looking forward to returning.