Many still without a home one year after Mexico earthquake

A year on from a devastating earthquake that struck Mexico City and killed dozens of people, hundreds of buildings in the capital are still uninhabitable and many of their former residents remain homeless.

At 1.14 p.m. on Sept. 19, 2017, the anniversary of another devastating quake in 1985 that claimed tens of thousands of lives in Mexico City, a 7.1 magnitude tremor shook the center of the country, killing about 370 people.

In the capital more than 430 buildings either collapsed or have been demolished in the 12 months since, according to Plataforma CDMX, a government body set up to survey and categorize structures following the quake.

More than 1,000 buildings that are still standing remain at high risk of collapse according to data gleaned through reports and structural analyses filed on the Mexico City government portal by affected residents, many of whom have been forced to abandon their homes.

A demonstrator reaches for the sky during an emotional protest in support of the damnificados of Multifamiliar Tlalpan and across Mexico City, 19.09.18 (Tim MacFarlan)

Movements in support of “los damnificados”—”the victims” or “the people who have suffered a harm,” as those made homeless by the quake call themselves—have sprung up across the capital.

One of the most prominent are the damnificados of Multifamiliar Tlalpan, a housing development in the south of the city which was once home to 500 families, according to citizen watchdog group Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity.

During the earthquake, housing block 1C of the development collapsed completely, killing nine people and trapping 18 others who had to be rescued.

A firefighter taking part in the demonstration at Multifamiliar Tlalpan, 19.09.18 (Tim MacFarlan)

A number of the 2,000 people who once lived in Multifamiliar Tlalpan haven’t been able to find permanent housing, surviving under tarpaulins in a makeshift camp at the edge of the development.

With the rest of the blocks declared uninhabitable, residents are still waiting for work to be carried out in order to make them safe.

A demonstration to call attention to the plight of the damnificados on Sept. 19 stopped all five lanes of traffic northbound on Tlalpan, one of the busiest roads in Mexico City.

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Pictured at the top of this post, firefighters and demonstrators link hands at a demonstration at Multifamiliar Tlalpan in Mexico City on the first anniversary of the devastating 19S earthquake, 19.09.18 (Tim MacFarlan)

Arrival of Diego Maradona puts spotlight on Mexican second division team

Diego Maradona speaks to the press after winning his first match as the new manager of Los Dorados in Culiacán on September 17 (Reuters)

The arrival of a football legend with a reputation as a troublemaker has thrust a second division Mexican team into the spotlight.

Wherever Diego Maradona goes he is guaranteed to attract attention and his latest attempt to resurrect his coaching career has certainly brought that to Los Dorados.

The team, named after the Mexican term for a type of golden dolphinfish, is based in Culiacán, the capital of the north-western state of Sinaloa.

Long the cradle of illicit drug production and trafficking in Mexico, Sinaloa is home to the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the largest and most feared criminal organizations in history.

After the announcement on September 6 that Maradona would be taking over as Los Dorados’ technical director, the state is also home to one of the greatest footballers to have ever graced the game but also one of the sports’ most divisive figures.

In his homeland of Argentina, the 57-year-old is still revered as a hero for his performances in the country’s 1986 World Cup-winning team, which won the tournament hosted by Mexico.

The diminutive forward is credited with inspiring an unfancied group of players to glory with his brilliance, culminating in victory over West Germany in the final at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

“His reputation in Mexico is generally good,” said Tom Marshall, a journalist based in Guadalajara who has covered Mexican football for eight years.

“Mexico is where he crowned his career, playing in 1986 like he did….Even at the recent World Cup he was saying he loved Mexican football and Mexico was his favourite team and that he was a Mexico fan.”

But that great victory in 1986 also showed Maradona’s dark side when he deliberately used his hand to score a goal in a quarter final game against England.

The man himself later dubbed it the “Mano de Dios,” or “Hand of God” goal, and it remains probably the most infamous example of cheating in the history of sport.

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UNAM students protest violence by ‘porros’ on campus

It may have been a daunting task, but the group of a dozen or so students seemed determined to scrub the graffiti off the side of the most famous building on the main campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), while wearing surgical-style masks to avoid inhaling the pungent mix of water and paint thinner.

“We are for freedom of expression, but not like this,” said Karen Aketzali García Miranda, who joined the clean-up group on Sept. 7 at the end of a tumultuous week at the largest and most storied university in Latin America.

Earlier that week, on Sept. 3, a group of students from one of UNAM’s many affiliated schools and colleges held a demonstration in front of the rectory at UNAM’s main campus.

A young girl rests on a ‘Made in CU’ (Ciudad Universitaria) sign in the shadow of the Biblioteca Central on Sept. 7, 2018, amid the calm of UNAM’s main campus just two days after a protest against university officials drew 30,000 people (Tim MacFarlan)

The gathering in the south of Mexico City was small, with the students intending to present a petition with a list of seven demands to UNAM Rector Enrique Graue Wiechers.

According to reports, about 40 people arrived at the protest site in cars and proceeded to attack the students with sharp weapons, large sticks, stones, firecrackers, and Molotov cocktails.

Fourteen protestors were injured, including two who sustained serious injuries—one of whom is thought to have been stabbed.

The attacks were carried out by members of so-called “porros,” mercenary groups also known as “grupos de choque,” or “shock groups.”

Volunteer student cleaners belt out UNAM’s famous ‘Goya’ chant in front of the Biblioteca Central (Tim MacFarlan)

These gangs of young men are often officially registered as students but have a darker purpose than getting a degree.

They are heirs to a long history of attackers, allegedly acting with the tacit approval of authorities intending to crack down on protests.

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Pictured at the top of this post, Miguel Ángel Romero Castillejos, 18, helps with the voluntary effort to scrub graffiti from the walls of the Biblioteca Central at UNAM (Tim MacFarlan)

Mexico a ‘war zone’ for journalists

The situation for journalists in Mexico is comparable to some war zones and it’s only getting worse, according to press freedom advocates.

The murder of a cameraman in the tourist city of Cancún is the latest fatal attack on a media worker.

Javier Enrique Rodríguez Valladares, who worked for local television station Canal 10, was shot dead in a central part of the coastal resort between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on August 29, according to local news reports.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that the 31-year-old, who was due to get married on August 31, was gunned down alongside another man to whom he may have been selling a car.

Many Mexican journalists have to maintain other sources of income because the pay and conditions on offer from their main employers are poor.

Javier Enrique Rodríguez Valladares has become the latest Mexican journalist to die violently

Though the attorney general’s office for the state of Quintana Roo announced there was so far no indication Rodríguez Valladares’ death was linked to his work, a motive for the killing has yet to be established.

He has become the third journalist to be killed in Quintana Roo in just over two months after Rubén Pat Cauich José and Guadalupe Chan Dzib were both shot dead.

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Pictured at the top of this post is the cordoned off home in Mexico City where Luis Pérez García, an 80-year-old journalist, was found bludgeoned to death (Tim MacFarlan)