Earthquake victims in Mixtec region receive funds for reconstruction

According to the damage survey, owners of buildings classified as total losses will be entitled to receive MXN$120,000
Earthquake victim Paz Martínez – Photo: Edwin Hernández/EL UNIVERSAL
Lizbeth Flores
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In three months, Paz Martínez made four dozens of hats to barely earn $MXN400 (USD$21), of which she spent MXN$160 (USD$8.5) to make the journey from her community, San Miguel Papalutla, to the town of Huajuapan de León, to receive a savings card with the total funds she will be given to rebuild her home, after the September 19 earthquake shook the Mixtec region of Oaxaca.

Paz, 90, doesn't know how to read or write. She doesn't understand how a plastic card will transform into the MXN$15,000 (USD$797) she was granted by the Natural Disaster Fund (FONDEN) to repair her home.

She ignores that despite the damages her property suffered, the Ministry of Agrarian, Territorial, and Urban Development (SEDATU) classified her property as partially damaged in the survey they performed.

She doesn't understand the process because she has been told little and has no advisor to help her rebuild her home.

Next week, Paz will have to make the three-hour journey back to Huajuapan to withdraw the money from the branch office of the BANSEFI bank – the only office in the region.

She will most likely have to make this journey again after that, given that Huajuapan is the closest town where she will be able to purchase the construction material she'll need to repair her home.

Paz is just one of the 1,410 earthquake victims which have finally received the economic assistance of the FONDEN in the form of savings cards given to them by the local and federal governments, over 100 days after the earthquake.

Even though at the beginning the Federal Government claimed 74 out of the 155 communities in this region had been impacted by the natural disaster, the Ministry of Agrarian, Territorial, and Urban Development (SEDATU) established that only 63 communities had been affected, following a damage survey they performed with mobile and remote devices – unlike what they did at the Tehuantepec Isthmus region, where the damage survey was done in person.

The survey of the Mixtec region was supervised by Abelardo Mendoza, Deputy Housing Director of the SEDATU in Oaxaca, and he claimed the satellite device ensures accuracy when verifying the damages to buildings; nevertheless, he acknowledged the device has a margin of error of 50 meters.

He also clarified that only inhabited properties of which they could verify the ownership records were surveyed and that all external damages were left out of the calculations; that is, outdoor toilets and kitchens were not taken into account.

According to the above, of the over 5,000 homes damaged during the earthquake in the Mixtec region, only 1,410 were included in the survey. Out of that total, 1,269 were classified as partially damaged and the owners will receive MXN$15,000 (USD$797.6) each to repair them. The rest, 141 properties, were considered total losses, and owners will receive a compensation of MXN$120,000 (USD$6,381).

Ana Vázquez, Minister of Culture and Arts and the person in charge in this region to coordinate the activities arising from the natural disaster, said that those entitled to the MXN$120,000 will receive the funds in four parts: MXN$15,000 to be withdrawn from the bank in cash and the rest payable in the form of construction material.

All USD amounts were calculated at a rate of USD$1 = MXN$18.8


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