The coronavirus crisis has overwhelmed funeral services in Tijuana, Baja California, forcing family members of Covid victims to wait up to two weeks to cremate or bury their deceased loved ones and pay exorbitant prices to do so.
Crematoriums and funeral homes in the northern border city are full and turning people away, according to a report by the newspaper El Universal.
Some people who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 travel to other municipalities where funeral homes are not as busy but leaving Tijuana is not an option for others.
El Universal described the scene outside one funeral home in Tijuana: “A small line of people waits outside the business. … Some burst into tears, others … stare at the ground. Some, amid a gloomy silence, only have enough strength to embrace each other. … The response from the funeral home employee is the same for all of them: ‘There is no cremation service, we’re saturated.’”
At another funeral home the response is eerily similar. “I’m really sorry but we haven’t had any space for a week,” a clearly tired man dressed in dark clothing tells a young couple. “There’s no space, really. Maybe in about two weeks, … we’re full.”
The couple pleaded for a solution, El Universal said, explaining that the man’s father lost a battle with Covid four days ago and that they have been searching for someone to take his body ever since. But they’ve been given the same answer at every funeral home and crematorium they’ve visited: – “We can’t, there’s no space.”
“We weren’t able to say goodbye as we should have [because] in the hospital there was no way for him to see us,” the grieving man said, adding that not being able to find a funeral home to take his father’s body has only prolonged his family’s suffering.
As demand for funeral services has soared, so have prices. Funeral services including cremations that previously cost 10,000 pesos (US $505) now cost between 17,000 and 21,000 pesos (US $860-$1,060) even though companies in the sector made a commitment last year not to engage in price gouging.
Now, not only do mourning family members face long waits for funeral services, they also have to dig deeper into their pockets.
More than 6,300 people have lost their lives to Covid-19 in Baja California and more than 40% of those deaths – almost 2,800 – occurred in Tijuana, placing the municipality among the 10 municipalities with the most pandemic fatalities in Mexico.
Placing even more pressure on funeral services is the high homicide rate in the border city. There were more than 2,000 murders in Tijuana in 2020, making the municipality the most violent in the country.
Source: El Universal (sp)