A tale of two Tabascos unfolded at the Villahermosa airport on Friday morning: President López Obrador provided an update about the delivery of aid to flooding victims in one section of the facility while in another a group of affected residents claimed they’ve received nothing and weren’t included in the government’s damage census.
Much of Tabasco faced severe flooding last month due to heavy rain and the diversion of water from a dam in Chiapas.
After flying into the Gulf coast state capital from Mexico City, López Obrador spoke at an event in the airport’s executive hangar, saying that the delivery of aid will begin December 21 and that there are sufficient funds to ensure that all flooding victims are supported.
He said that the government has set aside 18 billion pesos (US $902.6 million) to provide cash and domestic appliances to affected families in Tabasco and Chiapas.
“What I can tell my compatriots is that we’re going to meet our commitment to replace as much as we can, the assets that were lost. The victims’ census has already been drawn up,” López Obrador said.
The president said that 226,000 homes were flooded – 200,000 in Tabasco and 26,000 in Chiapas.
Welfare Minister Javier May said that thousands of people in Tabasco have already received financial support of 10,000 pesos (US $500) from the government.
However, a group of about 100 disgruntled flood victims gathered outside the airport’s customs area said they are still waiting for aid and a visit from government census workers.
Asunción Sánchez, a 57-year-old resident of the coastal municipality of Centla, said the president – a Tabasco native – is at peace with himself because “they tell him that the help already reached his people.”
“But nothing has arrived,” she told the newspaper Reforma.
“We’re here because we weren’t included in the census and unfortunately we’re still under water. There was a downpour last night and everything got wet again; we had to bring the animals inside,” Sánchez said.
She added that people who live in high parts of Centla received aid but residents of low-lying areas where the flooding was worse got nothing.
“What I say to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is to remember that he said that the poor come first and there can’t be poor people and a rich government,” Sánchez said, adding that government officials are “deceiving” him when they tell him aid is reaching all the people who need it.
Blanca Estela Camacho Torres of the community of Tierra Colorada also said that government census workers hadn’t visited her home to assess damage.
“We want to be included in the census, … they only reached [homes on] the river bank and then they said they ran out of [census] documents,” she said.
“In Jalpa de Méndez, only a few people have benefited,” said Maricela Hernández Frías, claiming that the lucky few have links to a local lawmaker.
Some victims told Reforma that they thought López Obrador would visit Tabasco communities that were affected by flooding but the president departed for Palenque, Chiapas, after leaving the airport to start a three-day tour to oversee construction of the Maya Train.
“The mattress is [still] outside if he wants to go by and see it,” said one woman.
Upon leaving the airport, López Obrador’s vehicle was surrounded by angry flood victims but the president didn’t wind down his window to interact with his fellow tabasqueños despite usually wanting to be seen as a man of the people.
“You got out of your car when you came for our votes before!” yelled one woman. “Today they have to escort you out like a thief!”
“Stop, stop him! Listen to us, Obrador!” others shouted as they held up photos of their flooded homes and streets.