Damaged buildings, graft haunt Mexico City year after quake

Damaged buildings, graft haunt Mexico City year after quake

MEXICO CITY – Throughout Mexico City, uninhabited buildings with gaping cracks lean at precarious angles and some displaced people are still living outdoors a year after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake killed 228 people in the capital and 141 more in nearby states.

Bureaucracy and physical and legal hurdles have delayed demolition of hundreds of tottering structures. In other cases owners carried out repairs that were purely cosmetic — masking damage that is likely to be revealed in the next quake. Corruption has continually undermined attempts to enforce building codes.

Tearing down buildings in a metropolis of 21 million is a daunting task. "It has to be done surgically, almost brick by brick," noted Ruben Echeverria, spokesman for the northern borough of Gustavo A. Madero.

But the slow pace of demolition, let alone rebuilding, is frustrating both to those who lost their homes and to those left living amid shattered eyesores that look like they could collapse at any time onto sidewalks and streets still cordoned off after the Sept. 19, 2017, quake.

Of about 411 buildings marked for demolition, only 62 have been taken down, and almost 1,000 more that were seriously damaged have yet to be reinforced.

On a recent morning, a handful of people returned to the six-story beige- and salmon-color apartment building across from a park in the trendy Condesa neighborhood that they had called home until the quake punched yawning holes into the masonry and left it listing to one side. They had just gotten word that it was finally going to be torn down, and civil defense workers took them inside one-by-one to rescue belongings — small furniture, pictures, tax documents, water-stained pillows — trapped inside during the nearly 12 months when nobody was allowed to enter.

"Seeing it like this, in ruins, it hurts. … Basically if you […]

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This article was written by Ian Hayden Parker, Oaxaca Life staff writer, the leading source for English news in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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