UPA (Utanian Press Agency)
Release: December 23, 300 AP.

Chiquiti fury over lack of clean water and hospitals

"Not one of them is any good", cries Horon Otchekta in the Chiquiti dialect of Utani. "They are handed our independence on a platter, yet my little Amarea died in my arms waiting for the hospitals and clean water they promised!"

Amarea Otchekta was aged four when she died from the effects of Diarrhoea, a preventable disease that is affecting thousands of western-tribe Utani, Kanharan and Chiquiti. In this south-west region of the country, water is less plentiful, and invariably polluted, meaning large numbers of Chiquiti, particularly amongst the poor immigrants from South Bay, are suffering from water-borne diseases, like diarrhoea.

"It is a region blessed by a great number of Chiquiti that have returned to Utania", says the regional manager of the Utani B'yan Water Board, "but they have also placed enormous strain on the water resources of the region. An additional 150,000 people added to a region of 350,000 is going to have a heavy impact."

Horon Otchekta, a descendent of the famous Otchekta administrator-warriors of the Chiquiti Kingdom, is one of thousands protesting government inaction over medical facilities and major water projects. "Keya Ajuntea" is the movement, and it is rapidly giving weight to Chiquiti separatists who are demanding that Chiquiti manage their own region.

"Are we to be the last tribe of the Utani?" asks Otoje Cjarun'ka, secretary of the Chiquiti Sædaj League. "Even the Uta-Decashi get better treatment than this, and it is our country!"

For President Okarvits' recently-appointed Water Management Minister, Samuel Sorama, Peoples Party MP for Bathenne, it is a matter of highest priority, and the Presidency is committed to building the necessary infrastructure to provide the much needed water. It is, however, a question of priorities. "There is so much to do in this country, and so many lives to save. The government cannot do everything in such a short time span."

"They are looking at buying Zartanian warships, billions of Punds", Cjarun'ka counters, "And yet it only takes Û100 million and this water and disease problem could go away forever! Thousands of Amarea Otchektas."

For the government, the pressures are enormous - trying to satisfy every people within this economically and culturally diverse population. But, the plight of the Chiquiti is not unseen by the Chiquiti's most fierce political warrior. Horon Tumakti, Peoples Party, is rearing for a fight - even if it means with his own leader.

"There is only one priority for the Utani people: Lives." says the "fire-and-brimstone politician". "Economics be damned! Warships be damned! We must be devoted to our OWN people, and saving their lives before we look to the people of Dignania." Such high-powered figures, this is shaping up to be the fight of the next year: the economic-developmentists versus "lives first".

Horon Otchekta doesn't care. There is nothing they can do that can bring back his little Amarea. She is gone, but he is determined not to lose any more children, even if the Chiquiti have to take matters into their own hands.

(First published in Zeitgeist Magazine, December 18th.)

©UPA, 300 AP.

©Mike Ham, 2000. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)