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  • Maria Guadalupe Padilla rests in her tent in the Tlalpan neighborhood.

    Maria Guadalupe Padilla rests in her tent in the Tlalpan neighborhood. | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 September 2018

Two studies regarding the Mexican government's response to rebuilding after last year's 7.1 quake show 'ineptitude and confusion' that has continued to leave hundreds still homeless.

A year after a massive earthquake struck Mexico City that killed nearly 400 people and injured thousands more, two newly released studies reveal gross ineptitude and corruption on the part of the Mexican government.

Mexico Earthquake Death Toll Rises to 360

Guadalupe Padilla who lived in what is now a still damaged apartment building in Mexico City is still waiting to return to her home.

The 60-year-old security guard has been forced to live in a wooden shack in a park just next to the unlivable apartment block where she had lived for three decades.

Three weeks ago, the building's management told Padilla to remove all her belongings, without providing information about the future, Padilla told Reuters. "It's not fair for them to kick us out without explaining anything," Padilla said.

She is one of hundreds who are still homeless in Mexico’s hard-hit capital city, unable to return to their damaged homes.

On Sept. 19, 2017, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake shook the city of about 22 million people, killing around 370 people, most of whom died inside of faultily constructed buildings.

Fearing her apartment was unstable, Padilla fled and waited for her apartment to be repaired as the government had promised.

President Enrique Pena Nieto's office said Tuesday that the government had provided aid to help rebuild 166,000 homes of the more than 169,000 that were damaged. The Interior Ministry did not immediately respond to questions regarding the many still homeless in the sprawling city of 22 million people.

According to the oversight group, Mexicans Citizens Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI) approximately 500 families lost their homes in the 7.1 shake.

"After everything happened here, the construction mafia got started," Padilla said, referring to vulture construction firms that came into her neighborhood to redevelop the area post quake.

MCCI’s report published last week found evidence of poor construction of Padilla’s building.

Since the earthquake hit a year ago, residents have also complained that their buildings were never built up according to regulations, resulting in the high number of damaged and devastated buildings.

Last December, Mexico City prosecutors arrested an unidentified man for approving a seven-story building as "safe" for residential living, which collapsed Sept. 19 killing two women inside. Experts said the building should have been able to withstand the quake had it been constructed according to 2016 building standards.

In addition to the MCCI study, the Human Rights Commission of Federal District, CDHDF using its Spanish acronym, found that the city government demonstrated an "insufficient, uncoordinated, slow and confused," response to the hundreds of quake-related complaints.

The CDHDF study found that Mexico City inhabitants are living in an "unconstitutional state of affairs" being that the city has mismanaged and dragged its feet on the 258 complaints it has received.

The commission report says the investigations, linked mainly to possible faulty construction and corruption for approving buildings as up to code, have largely gone nowhere.

"There are no defined lines of investigation … that allow us to get to the truth."

According to the report, as of Sept. 12 of this year, 204 cases were still open and 65 arrest warrants for homicide, fraud and illegal use of land were still unfulfilled.

In addition, the commission found that as of August 2018, there are 23 schools with 13,994 students in total that are still learning in mobile classrooms.

Nashieli Ramirez, head of the CDHDF, stated that the group’s recommendations call for “preventive action on part of the authorities of Mexico City (because) there’s a high probability, if not imminence, of more seismic events, occuring in Mexico City,” she told the press.

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