Governor Murat and Secretary Robles. Governor Murat and Secretary Robles.

‘False’ quake victims surface in census

4,000 people who 'had no right to be there' removed from list

Federal authorities have removed 4,000 people from the list of earthquake victims in Oaxaca and Chiapas who did not qualify for government aid to rebuild their homes.

The Secretary of Agricultural, Territorial and Urban Development said that “false” victims who had not actually been affected by the powerful September 7 earthquake would not receive government support.

“We’ve removed about 4,000 people from the census who definitely had no right to be there,” Rosario Robles said.

Robles pointed out that the census had been carried out by 7,000 people in a record five days after last month’s first large earthquake and consequently recognized that there was a margin of error.

She said any mistakes would be corrected during the distribution of government aid cards that will allow victims to pay for building supplies and services, adding that she anticipated more “false” victims would be found.

A similar problem occurred in Mexico City after the September 19 earthquake with an audit revealing that over 1,000 people who were not victims of the disaster received government rent assistance.

Since then the number has grown to 3,800, representing an overpayment of 11.4 million pesos (US $607,000).

Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera warned that legal action could be taken against those who had fraudulently claimed the aid. But only four people have come forward and returned their 3,000-peso checks.

Over 20,000 earthquake victims have now received government support in Mexico City.

In the two southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, 121,701 damaged homes have been detected through the census by federal authorities. And although there were errors, Secretary Robles said the process has now been closed, explaining that “when money starts to flow the temptation is enormous from the mayors [on down], because we’re already in the electoral process.”

Presumably she meant the temptation was to use aid resources for political ends.

Meanwhile, her declaration that the census is done is being challenged by Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat, who announced that a second census would take place in the state in response to complaints from municipal authorities.

Local governments are asking for more homes to be added to the list of those that will receive government aid for rebuilding.

The financial assistance is distributed in the form of stored-value cards, of which 11,923 cards have already been distributed to victims, mostly in Oaxaca. Beneficiaries must respond to 43 questions and sign an engagement letter before they can receive the cards.

Up to 120,000 pesos is available to people whose homes were totally destroyed by the powerful quake but two local politicians say that the amount is insufficient and detached from the reality victims are facing.

Tomás Basaldú and Carol Altamirano — both deputies in the Oaxaca state Congress — are urging the federal government to reconsider the amount and to carry out a study to establish new earthquake-resistant building codes for the state.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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