EARTHQUAKE

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The earthquake was very strong. Unfortunately, our house collapsed. The [facade] was left hanging by a thread.

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Days before [the earthquake], on September 13, I took [my husband] to the hospital. He had been ill for several days by then. Previously, he had spinal surgery, [so] he [developed] thrombosis and an infection…  They had to operate on him urgently.

He came through the operation well. I stayed with him [the whole time]... This was the situation [until the] 18th. On the 19th, when he was starting to get a little better, we were still at the hospital. And the earthquake happened.

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He told me: “Get out! Leave me here". But no. I told him that I was going to stay with him, so I did. After the earthquake, many injured people arrived  [at the hospital].  They were being treated outside, on the patio. Some of them flat out left. But where were they going to go? In Jojutla, the hospital had fallen down. In Cuernavaca, it was out of service. There was no other choice. The good news is that doctors arrived [two days later], I think from abroad, because they flew in by helicopter. So those who already had a bed, like my husband, stayed in place. And they let me stay there.

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Our house fell down during that earthquake. My son went to see us [to the hospital]. Someone told him that the hospital had collapsed, so he got there as fast as he could. There was no [public transportation]. The power went out. He had a sad face and teary eyes. I asked him how they were and he just stared at me. [We] left the room, and he told me: “Mommy, the house… it fell down". I couldn't believe it. He also told me that the church, the health center, the elementary school, the high school... everything collapsed.

 

That night I went [home] to take a bath. When I arrived, the surprise. I was shocked [and] desperate. My husband was in critical condition, and we had practically been left with nothing.

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After that, my father-in-law let us live in a room [in his house]. Aid packages began to arrive at the end of the month, but since I was  [at the hospital], I received almost nothing. 

 

My son told me that the government would come to help us with the house. The city council even helped me tear down the [facade]. Then the infamous FONDEN, the SEDATU, arrived. They interviewed me in person through a little machine and took photos. They [also] asked for separate data on paper [and] assured me that help would come. Later, they went to [the hospital] to get [my husband’s] signature and told us that we were going to get a [debit] card with the aid. It was supposed to have 120,000 pesos: 90,000 for construction material and the rest for labor. But we only got 15,000 pesos. They later told me that that's how they had registered my house: as a partial loss.

 

Someone recommended that I go to the FONDEN offices in Cuernavaca [to contest their decision]. I went and took my papers, photos, and evidence. They told me that the program was already closed and that they could no longer do anything for me. 

 

I wrote a letter to the President of the Republic in my own handwriting. I explained everything to him and sent him pictures. He did answer the letter, but no help ever came. The governor also went to my town. I explained what had happened and handed him a letter as well. I even gave another letter to Rigoberta Menchú, the Nobel prize winner, who was there with him. Still, no one gave me an answer.