“What do we do now?” Isthmus of Tehuantepec After the Earthquake

By  |  26 / September / 2017

On September 7, an 8.1-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico, shaking people out of their beds from the epicenter in the southern state of Chiapas to Mexico City, some 600 miles away. It was the strongest earthquake to hit the country in over a century and has left 98 dead to date. Worst hit were the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca, the mountainous Mixe region in the same state and the coastal region of the state of Chiapas. About 2.5 million people desperately need emergency aid and shelter.

Photographer Jonathan Treat visited the Isthmus just days after the earthquake and brings us these striking photographs of the current situation there and people´s struggle to survive in the communities of San Mateo del Mar, Matías Romero, Rio de Pachiñe, Santa María Xadani and Las Flores.

“The ovens that the women use to make totopos to sell are destroyed. There are single mothers and many others with no income now,” explained Edgar Teodoro Galván. “We don´t know how long we´ll be without homes. Our territory is forgotten. We´re like abandoned orphans. We´ve organized to help each other, but how are we going to rebuild?”.

San Mateo del Mar, Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca

 

“Our school is seriously damaged. The government sent people to check it, but they are not people with experience in evaluating the structural damage. They need to send the right experts who have relevant experience,” said Bety Gutierez, teacher in San Mateo del Mar. “They asked us if we will continue giving classes, and yes, of course we will continue. Even if it means teaching in the street, under whatever shade we can find.”

“Everything is broken. There are cracks and fissures everywhere you look…”

 

“My home is flooded. I´m living in the street, like many of my neighbors,” said Soraida Valle Moro. “I don´t know what to do.”

 

“My house isn´t safe. All of our rooms are seriously damaged. Government people came to inspect it, but they haven´t told me how or when they are going to help us.”

 

“We´re sleeping here, outside. We´re lucky that we have this metal roofing—many have nothing to shelter them.”

 

Shelter, Matías Romero, Istmo de Tehuantepec

 

“We´ve been at this shelter for six days. We left our home in Salina Cruz just after the earthquake. We don´t want to return, we´re afraid,” said Ana Jímenz Gutiérrez. “Many here don´t want to leave their homes and come here because they´re afraid that someone will rob what little that remains in their houses. We aren´t worried about that. Everything we had was destroyed.”

 

Rio de Pachiñe, Istmo de Tehuantepec, Oaxaca

 

“The government isn´t worried about us. They only care about their own.”
Community meeting

 

“The ovens that women use to make totopos to sell are destroyed. There are single mothers, and many others with no income now,” explained Edgar Teodoro Galván. “We don´t know how long we´ll be without homes. Our territory is forgotten. We´re like abandoned orphans. We´ve organized to help each other. But how are we going to rebuild?”

 

Santa María Xadani, Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca

 

“I lost my house and everything inside it, except my sewing machine, thank God. We
built our house little by little, with great effort. Now construction materials are very expensive,” said Margarita Aquino López. “I don´t know where we´re going to live. We don´t even have tarps for shelter, much less sheet metal roofing. What are we going to do?”

 

Las Flores, Istmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca

 

“This is what´s left of my sister Norma´s home. She lost absolutely everything. The government is asking for he voter ID in order to attend her case,” said Olivia López García.
“ But it´s buried in the ruins. Everything she owned is lost.”

 

“We´re don´t belong to the government or any church. We´re neighbors. And we know that you are going through a very difficult time. We were lucky and our house didn´t fall. But we´ve been through hard times in the past,” neighbors of Norma and Olivia. “We´re bringing these supplies and a hot meal. This is what we should be doing, as human beings. And we´ll be back tomorrow. And the days after that.”

This post is also in spanish at Desinomémonos.

No comments yet. You should be kind and add one!

The comments are closed.