MEXICO CITY – As if time stood still, hundreds of people in the poor, densely populated Mexico City borough of Iztapalapa still live in tents after losing their homes in the earthquake of Sept. 19, 2017.
“We’re forgotten. It’s been a year now and absolutely nothing has been done to resolve this,” Mauro Alvarado Martinez told EFE on Tuesday in one of the blue tents provided by the Chinese government almost a year ago, and which today has become his home and a small candy store.
His plight is dramatic. Mauro is 56 and diabetes left him blind several years ago, which makes living in a tent on the street even more insecure.
“In one day I manage to sell between 50 pesos and 60 pesos ($2.60-$3.20) worth of candy. And I have to keep saving so I can reinvest. I get no help of any kind,” he said ahead of Wednesday’s one-year anniversary of the devastating quake, which killed 319 people.
His house was damaged because his neighborhood spans an area of cracks in the earth opened by the temblor. Some months he has received a rent subsidy, but no help for rebuilding his home.
Finding himself in a similar situation is 65-year-old Hermilo Baltazar, who shares a tent with his wife Carmen while 13 members of their family sleep in other tents. Another relative died in the quake.
“Last December it got very cold, and now it’s very hot,” said the man who is currently in need of canvas sheets because the roof of his tent is worn out.
With the approach of winter he fears the worst. He has already had a cough for four months that he can’t afford to treat.
What’s left of his house is terrifying. Though it’s still standing, it now stands on a sinkhole more than 2 meters (6 feet) deep, which month by month only gets deeper. Like an open wound.
As do many of these tent dwellers, he speaks of chaos in the distribution of aid and the inspection of housing.
For example, he was offered a debit card with some 120,000 pesos ($6,356) for the reconstruction of his home.
But Baltazar received an official ruling that his home must be demolished and relocated. His future and that of his family hangs by a thread.
For Esperanza Delgado, 68, the destruction of the humble abode where she lived for 30 years and which she now shares with her two children and a grandson is made even sadder by how hard she had to struggle to obtain it.
Her house has been ruled “red” (total damage), but she continues living in it despite the sinkage and one severely cracked wall.
“We don’t know when there will be another earthquake, a magnitude 5 or 6 or more, and what will happen then,” Delgado said.