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The other side of San Miguel

By Antonio De Jesús Aguado

In Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende has been ranked as the city with the third-largest number of inhabitants living in poverty (63 percent), after San Felipe with 68 percent and Dolores Hidalgo with 64 percent. According to page four of the Diario Oficial de la Federación (Official Diary of the Federation), published on January 22, 2013, more than 88,000 people (out of 160,383 inhabitants) in San Miguel live in poverty, and 47,421 have inadequate access to food. The study states that in San Miguel the marginalization index is low and the social gap is very low.

In 2013 the campaign Cruzada Contra el Hambre (Crusade Against Hunger) was launched. The Diario Oficial states that it has as a mission the implementation of actions at the federal, state and municipal levels, in concert with the private sector and nonprofit organizations, to combat hunger and malnourishment. The strategy also includes increasing food production and decreasing post-harvest losses by promoting community participation. This strategy, according to the document, would not be possible without affiliated programs to increase education and access to health services, insurance and

Help does not arrive

“Could you take me to colonia Adolfo López Mateos?” I asked a taxi driver on a Wednesday morning. “Why would you go to that neighborhood? It is one of the poorest and most horrible in town,” he replied.  Colonia Adolfo López Mateos is situated behind fraccionamiento Alamedas and in the past was part of the Ejido de Tirado. The neighborhood

In Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende has been ranked as the city with the third-largest number of inhabitants living in poverty (63 percent), after San Felipe with 68 percent and Dolores Hidalgo with 64 percent. According to page four of the Diario Oficial de la Federación (Official Diary of the Federation), published on January 22, 2013, more than 88,000 people (out of 160,383 inhabitants) in San Miguel live in poverty, and 47,421 have inadequate access to food. The study states that in San Miguel the marginalization index is low and the social gap is very low.

In 2013 the campaign Cruzada Contra el Hambre (Crusade Against Hunger) was launched. The Diario Oficial states that it has as a mission the implementation of actions at the federal, state and municipal levels, in concert with the private sector and nonprofit organizations, to combat hunger and malnourishment. The strategy also includes increasing food production and decreasing post-harvest losses by promoting community participation. This strategy, according to the document, would not be possible without affiliated programs to increase education and access to health services, insurance and

Help does not arrive

“Could you take me to colonia Adolfo López Mateos?” I asked a taxi driver on a Wednesday morning. “Why would you go to that neighborhood? It is one of the poorest and most horrible in town,” he replied.  Colonia Adolfo López Mateos is situated behind fraccionamiento Alamedas and in the past was part of the Ejido de Tirado. The neighborhood does not have access to services such as potable water, drainage or electricity. In a house built of stones collected from debris that people used to throw out nearby, with makeshift walls of plastic and bags and a roof of cardboard and sheet metal, lives Aurora Orduña and her four sons, who are married and have children. A total of 17 people live in the space. Orduña’s husband is a taxi driver, and because her sons do not have jobs the father is supporting the household.

Orduña said that they are very poor and do not have work, so they have not been able to construct a proper house. She made it clear that when she bought the land she did not know that it was an irregular zone—or that her piece of land was located in a stream. She commented that for the last five years she has been going to the municipal DIF (Department for Integral Family Development) to get support to build a Casa DIFerente, but she has not been chosen. She also commented that she tried to get support from the nonprofit organization Casita Linda, but the members did not reach agreement about it; some said that it was possible to build a house in the area—in the stream—and others said that it was not, because the cost would be higher.

In the same neighborhood, on the same unpaved and muddy street lives Ramona Ramírez, who has lived in the area for 14 years. She commented that the government has never supported them and that she has been going to different departments of the local administration to get the help to construct a better house, but she had not gotten it. “When they need our vote they come to us and make commitments, but once they win they do not come back. When federal or state authorities come to San Miguel, the local authorities just show them the historic center, but they do not come to this neighborhood where we need potable water, drainage, electricity and a regularization program,” she commented.

In a humble casita lives Francisca Hernández, who has never been supported by the government, not even through the financial program for seniors called 65 y más. “I am very poor,” she said. “I live here with my daughter and son-in-law, but he does not have a job, and when he works, he does not make more than 50 pesos a day. Today I do not even have money to buy tortillas,” said Hernández, as she ate a piece of stale bread.

Prolongación de Guadalupe

Prolongación de Guadalupe is a street parallel to avenida Independencia and is located next to the Las Cachinches stream. The residents of that street have worked for years to maintain the street, but every year the rain washes out the street. In addition, residents of

colonia Guadalupe use the arroyo as a trash dump. Doña Esperanza Rosas has lived next to the stream since 1960 in a humble house. She commented, “I think that this will never change.” Another resident, Hermelinda Tovar, said that in 1998, after the flooding, they formed a committee to request the reconstruction of a bridge that connected that street with colonia Guadalupe, and since then they have worked to preserve the area. They planted trees to have a better view and also to protect the soil from erosion. Those trees were bought by 10 families, and the Ecology Department donated some of them. Tovar said that months ago they formed a committee to work with the local administration on the Cruzada Contra el Hambre strategy, but they have not seen benefits and have not heard from the employees of the Social Development Department.

Another resident who lives on a-venida Independencia commented that she formed a committee with the neighbors to work with the administration on the same strategy but the employees of the Social Development Department never showed up again.

Social Development Department shows its work

The Social Development Department assigned two guides to Atención to show us some of the public works they have performed. In colonia Palmita de Landeta the local administration constructed nine streets at a cost of 2 million pesos and they also help residents, through a different program, paint and repair their façades. Lupita Rangel, an inhabitant of Landeta, commented that other administrations forgot about them, but now they have paved streets. That is good, she commented, because in the past with the rainfall the streets were muddy and there were puddles where mosquitoes bred, and they were unhealthy for children.

Next to the paved streets there is a long avenue in front of Clouthier Park. The promoter made it clear to Atención that one of the requirements for fixing the streets is that they need to be 80 percent inhabited, which they are not, and in addition it is an irregular zone. The promoter also commented that the local, federal or state resources are distributed according to studies conducted by the CONEVAL (National Council of Evaluation) to eradicate poverty.

In colonia San Antonio there were houses that did not have proper roofs, only cardboard or deteriorated asbestos sheets. The promoter demonstrated that this year 25 families in that neighborhood benefited from the program “Techo Digno” and were given fibrocement sheets for the houses. Dorotea Vargas, one of those who benefited, commented that she is very thankful for the administration’s support, because her asbestos sheets had holes and there were leaks all over her house, which consists of two bedrooms and a kitchen.

Colonia San Martín is situated behind Ejido de Tirado, next to the train station. In that neighborhood the Social Development Department gave out fibrocement sheets to five families. The neighborhood does not have the basic services of electricity, potable water or drainage, but the local administration cannot support it because it is an irregular zone. It was part of the Ejido de Tirado and the inhabitants do not have documents to prove legal ownership of their properties.

Amelia Ávarez, who had a convenience store a couple of months ago but had to close it because she did not have electricity, said that the regularization of the neighborhood has been impossible because the former owner of the ejido makes things complicated and also because the local administration is not committed  to helping them.

The promoters also showed me a potable water network in the rural community of Estancia de San Antonio, which was constructed with federal resources. However, the delegada (representative) of the community said that it is not working properly because of the lack of pressure, so some families do not have ready access to potable water.

 

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