43% of the Chiapas territory has been affected by Eta; There are more victims in the state than from the 2017 earthquake.
In the municipalities of Rayón and San Juan Chamula, the same inhabitants have had to help each other to remove trees, branches, stones and mud with rustic tools typical of their agricultural work, such as shovels, ties and boards. The authorities told them that “nothing can be done” and did not help the population, says a resident of Rayón.
It is a town where the Zoque indigenous language is spoken, which has made it difficult to transmit prevention instructions issued by authorities in Spanish. The source assures that the municipal government makes a peripheral to alert about natural disasters, but there is no deeper approach to publicize the protocols.
Drinking water pipe networks collapsed, crops were lost and animals were washed away by the rains, which reduces the sources of income for the population — and not only for 2020, since they estimate to be restored in more than a year. Against this background, the interviewee, whose identity he preferred not to reveal, relates for example that the policemen avoided helping with tasks, such as carrying tools to help. The indifference of the municipal authority led the people of the community themselves to do rescue work, while the collection centers were organized in the churches.
According to official figures from the state Civil Protection and the Chiapas government, 400 food packages had been delivered at the beginning of the week in the municipality of Tila (five hours from the capital) and 233 in El Bosque (2.5 hours away). ), in communities such as San Miguel, San Antonio, Alta Gracia, San Francisco Conho, Sabinotik, and Nueva Ukraine.
On the other hand, in the town of Tenejapa (two hours from Tuxtla Gutiérrez), the authorities evacuated 37 homes with major structural damage and in Chapultenango they donated blankets, pantries, mats, and cleaning packages. A shelter has been set up in San Cristóbal, in the cultural center of El Carmen, while the Tuxtla Gutiérrez fire stations also function as collection centers.
In the municipality of San Cristóbal de las Casas (half an hour from the capital), the atmosphere is perceived differently. The police and Civil Protection elements have helped the community; even a youth brigade that does not belong to any governmental or political association helped to rescue people and pets, said local journalist Luis Javier Salazar.
The communicator told El Economista that the most affected neighborhoods in this municipality are located in the central and northern areas, where people from medium-high to very low socioeconomic level live, such as in the Emiliano Zapata and Tlaxcala colonies, mainly affected by the overflow. of streams and the Yellow River.
San Cristóbal is one of the four magical towns of Chiapas, but its historical monuments were not damaged due to the tropical storm. The most critical days of rainfall were last Friday and Saturday, Salazar said.
Floods wipe out crops
A cry for help to the authorities when everything is lost
“I want to ask for support, but I don’t know who I’m going to address.”
That is the message of help launched by an inhabitant of the town of Rayón (in the northern area of Chiapas, three hours from Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the state capital), a municipality that has 89% of its population living in poverty, after enduring more than 10 days under the rains caused by storm Eta. In that period they have run out of drinking water, a whole day without electricity and with the discovery of two bodies buried due to a landslide from a hill.
The main source of income for the community is the cultivation of corn, beans, and squash, but the storm and floods, which hit Mexican territory in early November, ended the harvest.
“It is sad and it is unfortunate because the authorities only tell us that there is no money. The community is doing what it can because the authorities are not putting their hands in it ”, a resident of Rayón tells El Economista.
This municipality is one of the 54 affected in 12 of the 15 Chiapas economic zones, that is, 43% of the state’s territory (Chiapas has 124 municipalities). But the most alarming figure is the twenty people who have at least died. Four times more than in Tabasco due to the same phenomenon.
That figure in Chiapas is even higher than the number of victims (16) from the 8.2-magnitude earthquake that shook the state in 2017 and was considered the strongest earthquake in Mexico in the last 100 years.
The victims belong to six municipalities: La Grandeza, El Bosque, Oxchuc, Mitontic, San Juan Chamula and Pantepec (Oxchuc and Chamula have been among the five municipalities with the highest rate of extreme poverty in 2010 and 2015, according to reports del Coneval).
San Juan Chamula, a town in which five indigenous groups coexist (Tsotsiles, Tseltales, Choles, Mam and Tojolabales; located 67 kilometers from the capital), is one of the municipalities hardest hit by Eta, since in addition to being the one that counts more deaths, also suffered a landslide from a hill.
The photojournalist Jacob García reported that, in this municipality, in the indigenous town of Mukem, seven of the deceased were children. Juan Gómez Collazo, the children’s uncle, asked the authorities for support: “My sister was left without a home, without a family, with nothing; we want support in this community as we are in great need ”.
Other residents made a call to the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) because they are afraid that the utility poles, affected by the rains, will collapse and cause more deaths.
So far, Mukem has not received support from state, federal or military authorities, he pointed out in a report he produced on the tragedy Jacob García.
According to the update of Civil Protection of the state, as of Monday, November 9, the tropical storm had left more than 37,000 people affected (0.7% of the total population of the entity), 255 houses collapsed, 11 bridges destroyed and three totally cut off communities.
Just yesterday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador met in Mexico City with the governors of Chiapas and Tabasco in the face of the floods, a meeting in which they discussed the management of dams and the drainage of rivers.
It would be good to see the delivery of resources for victims already, they raise
Difficult future amid the Covid-19 pandemic
Journalist Liz Leyte narrates that on Friday, November 6, she was present in one of the affected areas of the municipality of San Cristóbal and saw people cry for losing all their assets.
For his part, the journalist Samuel Revueltas defined the current situation as one of the strongest catastrophes that have occurred in Chiapas since the 8.2-magnitude earthquake in September 2017; and although he describes the work carried out by municipal and state authorities as “commendable”, he considers that “there are not enough hands” to contain everything that is happening today: damage to more than 9,000 families.
Revueltas considers that “it will not be easy” for the population to cope with this catastrophe and less because of the current context of the Covid-19 pandemic. It indicates that the state government has been in contact with the victims and that it has also been transparent in access to information, but it also concludes that the federal government has not given the importance of the tragedy in Chiapas as it does with Tabasco.
“According to Coneval, more than 70% of the population in Chiapas is poor, so this event impacted an important area of high marginalization, such as indigenous communities. (The storm) is perhaps taking the last breath they had. There are places where everything was taken and I think it is not being sized in terms of what the federal government is doing.
“The president is wrong in that not only does a visit (to the affected area) guarantee you care, but it has to be something in the background. He declared (during his visit to Villahermosa on Monday, November 9) that there are enough resources (from the budget to support the victims), but it would be good to see it already translated ”.
The citizen of Rayón, who served as a source for this journalistic work, describes the current situation as the second most important tragedy in his town, after the explosion of the Chichonal Volcano in 1982, whose ashes destroyed the crops and livestock; just like now.
State Civil Protection has clarified that for now, they do not have a firm rehabilitation plan, because they are still in the damage registration phase. Of the stages that they handle in their emergency protocol, Chiapas is currently in the response stage, which consists of providing assistance and humanitarian aid to families, and then giving way to rehabilitation (cleaning roads obstructed with machinery).
Later the stages of reconstruction and return apply. The same authority reported that tropical storm Eta threw 155 millimeters of rain, which exceeded the forecast.
In Ocosingo and Salto de Agua
They prepare a fumigation and cleaning strategy to avoid dengue
Although in the last hours the level of the rivers in Chiapas has decreased, they are still overflowing, so there are areas whose access is still difficult or that are even still under water.
Given the torrential rains, last Monday the National Civil Protection Coordination issued an emergency declaration for eight municipalities in Chiapas and two in Tabasco.
In separate interviews with El Economista, the mayors of Ocosingo and Salto de Agua (Chiapas), two of the towns with a declaration, reported that the rains registered have been the strongest in decades, in addition to the fact that rivers such as the Tulijá remained until yesterday, November 10, 13 meters above its level, which has caused different areas to continue to be flooded, which can cause the appearance of mosquitoes that transmit dengue and chikungunya, so a strategy of fumigation and cleaning.
The municipal president of Salto de Agua, Román Mena de la Cruz, specified that in the municipality the floods affected 11,493 people in 31 neighborhoods and 47 ejidos.
“We are a municipality that we are always accustomed to flooding but not to such an extent, so the people were confident,” said the municipal president. So far this year, he continued, there have been three floods in the municipality.
The local official indicated that there are still about 35 people in shelters, who “lost everything, they have nowhere to go, there are even four families who lost their homes, the water washed them away because they were wooden houses.”
For his part, Jesús Oropeza Nájera, mayor of Ocosingo, stated that there are 487 affected families and 40 damaged homes.
“There are isolated places like Plan de Guadalupe that could not be passed; Aid is already being sent through citizens and Civil Protection ”, he pointed out.
Oropeza Nájera said that due to the possible appearance of mosquitoes, the fumigation is expected to begin in a week after cleaning the affected areas.
The economic amount of the damages is not yet known, but he explained that there is a destroyed bridge, whose repair cost is estimated between 15 and 18 million pesos.