Thousands in southern Mexico decry lack of rebuilding after Hurricane Stan |

Thousands in southern Mexico decry lack of rebuilding after Hurricane Stan

TAPACHULA, Mexico – About 3,000 people whose homes were damaged or destroyed by flooding unleashed by Hurricane Stan last fall took to the streets of this city on the Mexico-Guatemala border Thursday to protest a lack of progress in efforts to rebuild 45 hard-hit communities.Stan hit southern Mexico on Oct. 4, contributing to flooding and mudslides that killed 71 people in Chiapas state and left more than 650 dead – and 820 missing – in Guatemala. Another 71 died in El Salvador.Horacio Sanchez led a group of marchers representing 16 Tapachula neighborhoods where winds and flash floods unleashed a torrent of destruction. He said residents were worried because the heavy rains of the region’s wet season were likely to begin in a bit more than a month, making the still-crippled area again susceptible to flood waters.The majority of those who marched were women and many carried massive signs and placards decrying government inefficiency in rebuilding efforts.”I know women who lost everything and are still struggling to move forward,” said Sonia Gutierrez, a single-mother who said women have been especially devastated by Stan, which roared through an area abandoned by most men, who head north in search of higher paying jobs in the United States.Gutierrez said federal and state funding for rebuilding projects was available, but that Chiapas officials were holding much of it hostage as bargaining chips to win votes in gubernatorial, municipal and state legislative elections this summer.A call to the office of Chiapas Gov. Pablo Salazar seeking comment was not returned. After meeting with authorities in the border communities of Hidalgo and Suchiate, however, he announced that ample government funds remain for projects around the Suchiate River, which separates Guatemala and Mexico.Last month, hundreds of angry Mexican farmers from Suchiate blocked a border bridge to demand land they claim wound up on the Guatemalan side of the border after the river reportedly changed course during Hurricane Stan.The farmers also demanded the Suchiate River be dredged to prevent future floods.Jose Alfredo Aguilar, head of a cooperative of civil engineers, complained that replacement bridges and schools built in the six months since the flooding are of poor quality and could fall down again if a hurricane strikes the area.Vail, Colorado

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