How much should governments reimburse earthquake victims whose homes have been partially or completely damaged? More than what has been offered, according to some.
Federal and state governments have pledged 3.5 billion pesos (US $187 million) in grants to people whose houses collapsed or were damaged by September’s earthquakes in Oaxaca, especially in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region.
Most of that has already gone out to the owners of 70,477 damaged dwellings, in amounts that are supposed to correspond roughly to the actual damage sustained.
Owners of the 14,325 homes that were deemed completely destroyed, for example, are to receive 120,000 pesos, paid over a period of four months.
The owners of houses that were partially damaged but are still safe to live in — a total of 35,084 — and those of homes that were partially damaged but are unsafe — 21,041 homes — will receive 30,000 pesos, paid over a two-month period.
Mirsa Cabrera, 43, of Asunción Ixtaltepec, is one of those who questions the amounts being paid. She says her 30,000 pesos will replace no more than the property’s perimeter wall. Meanwhile, her house is a pile of rubble.
A single room was left standing after the September 7 earthquake and its walls were obviously damaged. She disagreed with the official assessment that the damage was only partial.
“Thirty thousand pesos are not enough to rebuild my home, only a wall,” she told the newspaper El Universal, and explained she didn’t feel safe inhabiting the remaining room of her house.
Cabrera and her husband and three children have been living under a tarp in the yard since the quake struck.
Ironically, the local Civil Protection office had earlier declared her home as unsafe, and has scheduled a visit to demolish what was left standing.
“What I’m going to do is build a wall to protect my land; I’m going to spend all the money on that,” said Cabrera.
Pedro Paredes, 47, a police officer and the father of three children, is another victim for whom the funds won’t be sufficient. On top of that he and his wife don’t know how to use the bank card that gives access to the money. “. . . they never explained it to us,” he said.
He doesn’t think the grant, combined with his 6,600-peso monthly salary, will be enough to rebuild the family home.
Tortilla and atole vendor Levic Jiménez of Ixtaltepec lost everything, including her source of income. They have been getting by with the help of neighbors and the Army-operated food program, amd sleeping in a tent for over a month.
She says her 120,000 pesos won’t restore her house to what it was, “but we can’t keep going like this. We need to hurry and what I’ll do is put up the walls and use metal sheets as roofing.”
That’s as far as the money will go, said the single mother.
Architectural specialists in Oaxaca told El Universal that the reconstruction grant amounts were determined arbitrarily and lacked a thorough assessment, and that the state and federal governments’ intention was to wash their hands of any responsibility in the reconstruction efforts.
The former chairman of the Oaxaca School of Architects, Lázaro García Saavedra, said the 120,000-peso allocation was enough to build two three by three-meter rooms and a small bathroom, but without finishing.
The president of the Free and Independent School of Architects of Oaxaca, Claudia Ruiz Pérez, was even more pessimistic. She saw the money as being enough for only a single four by four-meter room, “a room of minimal dimensions.”
Source: El Universal (sp)