Chiapas earthquake victims claim abandonment by federal and state authorities

Damages from the September 7, 2017 earthquake in Unión Juárez, Chiapas. Photo: Xinhua

By: Isaín Mandujano

TUXTLA GUTIÉRREZ, Chiapas (apro)

One year after the 8.2-magnitude earthquake in Chiapas, there are only deception and protests, serious violations of the right to dignified housing, threats to block roads and international border bridges.

Friday, September 7, was the one-year anniversary of the earthquake that leveled part of Chiapas. Fernando Ríos of the All Rights For Everyone Network (RedTDT, as it is known in Spanish) announced that the state and federal governments have failed the earthquake victims.

According to that organization, the victims fear that faced with the change of government they will be left helpless, because thousands still wait for the promised aid.

He detailed that they toured four Chiapas communities: Paredón, Huizachal, Gustavo López and Nuevo Urbina, in the state’s coastal region, where they established the anguish that the families experience everyday.

Ríos explained that, in many cases, families were waiting for resources that never arrived, and in the best of cases they only gave them 85 thousand pesos and not the 120 thousand that they promised them.

The earthquake victims explained that the federal government blames the state for not contributing its share of resources; however, to those affected the one responsible is the Mexican State, because the government issued the orders to everyone who assumed the commitment to support them.

And it’s not only housing, in the border region of the Suchiate River, several municipalities continue hoping that the state and federal governments will intervene and reconstruct or rehabilitate at least 40 mainly basic level schools that were damaged by the September 7, 2017 earthquake.

Javier Ovilla Estrada, one of the leaders of the parents’ committees, said that they have marched, blocked highways and taken over international border bridges in order to make themselves heard; nevertheless, they have brought “pure minutes.”

“They promise, promise and never fulfill,” says Ovilla Estrada, who stated this week that, if the government does not fulfill, they would again take over the border bridges that connect Mexico with Central America.

Meanwhile, he exposed, thousands of children go to classes in very poor conditions in schools at the point of collapsing or under trees or improvised wagons.

He threatened a highway blockage this Friday on the stretch between Tuxtla and Chiapa de Corzo. Teachers, parents and students came out to place rocks, sticks and tires on the asphalt strip.

They denounced that Aurelio Nuño, as Secretary of Public Education and Governor Manuel Velasco Coello, came to this Multiple Attention Center as soon as the earthquake occurred. They promised aid for reconstructing the damaged school, but they continue waiting.

Children with different abilities come to this educational center. Even they, some in wheel chairs, had to sit themselves down on the highway.

“May the government turn around and see us! They are going to go away and they are going to leave us like this,” said Josefa López Flores, a mother of a child at that school.

After the September 7, 2017 earthquake, state authorities verified damages to 46, 773 homes. Of these, 14, 073 were found with total damage that required demolition and new construction and there were 32, 700 with partial damage.

They reported that up to now a total of 45, 216 BANSEFI debit cards have been delivered, of which: 13, 550 are for total damage and 31, 666 are for partial damage. It’s appropriate to point out that there are still 1, 557 cards pending of which, 41 cards are in plastic production on the part of BANSEFI for name changes and 1, 516 are in branch banks to be delivered.

The group of people that already received their card has deposited a total of 1,564,892 billion pesos, of which they have already withdrawn 1,525, 357 billion pesos. Of the 14, 073 houses with total damage that already received a card, 9, 889 had already initiated reconstruction, according to an April report.

According to Luis Manuel García Moreno, head of the Civilian Protection Ministry, with the delivery of resources through the prepaid debit cards, the government’s commitment to support the population that lost their home or saw their home affected by the earthquake is fulfilled.

The president of the National Human Rights Commissions, Luis Raúl González Pérez, was in Chiapas yesterday and he was questioned about this lack of fulfilling promises to the earthquake victims. He said that complaints have reached his agency from Mexico City about the September 19 earthquake as well as from victims in Chiapas and Oaxaca.

A year after the earthquake, he said that he ordered his agency to issue a detailed report and that he will urge state and federal authorities to fulfill their commitments, because grave human rights violations have been documented.


Originally Published in Spanish by Proceso

Friday, September 7, 2018

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



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