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563 Apartments Destroyed by 2016 Earthquake in Manta and Portoviejo; Unscrupulous Individuals Drain Victims’ Funds in Ecuador

Jimmy Luna recalls the seismic event of April 16, 2016, which marked a before and after in the condominiums where he resides. He describes the impact of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on the buildings in his complex, rendering three of them uninhabitable as the owners fled, leaving the structures abandoned.

Subsequently, promises of reconstruction were made by authorities such as the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing (Miduvi), offering $12,000 per apartment for repairs. Unfortunately, the funds never materialized, leading Luna to assert that all the money meant for the victims was misappropriated by corrupt individuals.

Living in the Tohallí condominiums in Manta, Luna divulges the dire condition of the structures, with cracks, damaged columns, and deteriorating staircases. Despite assurances from the government and various agencies, nothing concrete has been done to address the housing crisis post-earthquake.

Walter Barrera, a representative for those affected by the earthquake, reveals that 563 homes in six housing complexes in Manta and Portoviejo were never rebuilt despite pledges of assistance from the government. He laments the broken promises made by officials and the lack of accountability in the allocation of resources.

Resolving the housing crisis would require an estimated $7 million, according to Barrera. Currently, the unsafe condition of the buildings poses a severe risk to residents and underscores the urgent need for action.

Amidst the government’s failure to deliver on its promises, some residents have taken matters into their own hands, repairing their homes with personal resources. However, many apartments remain in a state of disrepair, prompting concerns about the misuse of funds meant for earthquake victims.

An investigation into alleged embezzlement involving former vice president Jorge Glas, Carlos Bernal, and Pablo Ortiz has been initiated to probe the misuse of public resources for reconstruction efforts. The lack of progress in rebuilding homes highlights the systemic failures and corruption that have plagued the post-earthquake reconstruction process. (I)

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