Colombia: Seven months after hurricane ‘Iota’ there are only two houses rebuilt on the island of Providencia | International

Iván Duque visits the island of Providencia, destroyed in November by Hurricane Iota.
Iván Duque visits the island of Providencia, destroyed in November by Hurricane Iota.NICOLAS GALEANO / Presidency of the Republic

The inhabitants of Providencia, an island located in the Colombian Caribbean, ask President Iván Duque with a song in the Creole language to fulfill his promise to rebuild the island devastated last November by the hurricane Iota. “We want our houses so that everyone can return home, we want a house so that everyone can return home.” The video clip, released these days, shows houses still destroyed and others without roofs, the tents where some of its inhabitants live and the beauty of the sea, despite everything.

Seven months after the devastating passage of the hurricane, only two of the 1,134 damaged houses have been delivered. “Most of us continue to live in tents and in the ruins of houses, but the rains make us feel very bad,” says Arelis Fonseca, one of those affected by telephone. A few days ago, President Iván Duque traveled to the island, promised that they would build 80 houses a month and stamped his signature on the wall of a kindergarten: “To the Divine Providence, with my eternal love”.

The visit upset the islanders, who came out to protest on Wednesday. For several of them, who spoke to this newspaper, it was an offense for the president to sign a wall when they are still out in the open. “A childish attitude, one more pantomime,” explained one of the victims. The march, something unusual among the Raizal population, took place, ironically, on the day that commemorates 199 years of the island’s accession to Colombia.

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Its inhabitants decided not to raise the flag. “It is incredible that almost eight months after the hurricane IotaThey have not rebuilt the hospital, but they did it with the pedestrian (road). They have done such ridiculous things as giving priority to painting the tracks, ”they said in their manifesto of the so-called March for Dignity. “Hundreds of people continue to use it and with tons of stucco and paint, they make up the grotesque presentation of houses without windows, without hurricane moorings and poorly arranged in an effort to mask a disaster theater,” they complained.

Last December, Iván Duque toured the island on an ATV and promised that the reconstruction would be completed in 100 days. But 200 have passed and slowness is the word that the raizales repeat the most. The Comptroller General of the Nation denounced that they are serious delays. “The Comptroller is concerned that one week after the emergency has been completed, and when the hurricane season and other tropical cyclones are about to arrive in the country, the goals initially established to deliver have not been met,” said the control body. some days ago.

The president has had to admit that the objective was not met. “That we have delays? Yes sir. We have to accept it, ”said the president. However, he assured that they are “derived from logistical complexities.” “Providencia does not have a port; it has a pier, an access channel with a limited draft, it has many difficulties, “he added. Duque assured that they have repaired 500 houses and that by the end of the month they will deliver 200 more repairs. The problem, as indicated by the Comptroller’s Office, is that this has also been breached. The government had promised to carry out 100% of the repairs by the end of April, but in Providencia the wait feels eternal.

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