WASHINGTON — Arkansas linemen who have helped electrify several remote villages in the mountains of Guatemalan were recognized for their volunteerism on the Senate floor Tuesday.
“I commend them for giving their time and know how to improve the lives of hundreds of Guatemalans that before this they didn’t even know,” said Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.
Pryor spoke for about five minutes on the Senate floor about “Operation Razorback” as some members of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas watched from the gallery above. He also delivered a brief message from Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., who is home recovering from heart surgery.
“These Guatemalan villages will never be the same thanks to the progress made by the volunteers of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas,” Boozman wrote.
Operation Razorback launched last year with about a dozen linemen spending two weeks to connect electricity to 85 homes in the villages of Baloverdre, San Pablo and Buena Vista. Another dozen linemen spent three weeks this spring doing the same for homes in La Haciendita and Las Flores.
Through similar programs over the last 17 years, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association International has electrified about 60 villages in Guatemala.
Pryor met earlier Tuesday with about 100 members of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas including Paul Garrison, a lineman from the North Arkansas Electric Cooperative.
Garrison was one of the volunteers who traveled last October to Guatemala.
“I asked what’s the first thing these people will get? And, he said, lights,” Pryor said.
Beyond that, the village will realize an economic benefit from having reliable electric power, Pryor said.
“Reliable access to electricity will help these villagers increase the quantity and quality of their locally grown coffee — resulting in economic prosperity and a better quality of life for present and future generations,” he said.