OVER 100 families were left homeless in El Chorrillo when fire engulfed three old wooden buildings in the afternoon of Tuesday, May 21, at 19th Street, El Chorrillo.
The Fire on 19th Street started at about 3:40 pm.
Over 200 firefighters and five trucks arrived to fight the flames. They were supported by Civil Defense staff (Sinaproc) and police.
As the the blaze was brought under control the politicians began to arrive. First on the scene was Sergio Galvez, renowned for his distribution of Christmas hams in the area. He arrived wearing a New York Yankees shirt and baseball cap. He made promises of help to the surrounding crowd and left.
Minister of Housing, Yasmine Pimental, said that the homes had been condemned and the entity will provide the necessary assistance. Families were promised accommodation for 15 days.
Mayor RoxanMendez arrived and promised that the city would provide food.
As the police cordoned off the area to prevent vandalism, survivors of the fire lined up to vent their feeling to the waiting TV reporters. There was little sympathy for the politicians and there were numerous complaints that multiple appeals had been made to the housing ministry, but no action was taken. One man said he had been living in a mall room in “temporary” accommodation for a year, after losing his home to an earlier fire.
Other denounced politicians who had never “walked in the shoes of the people” and there were calls for President Ricardo Martinelli to come down from his clout to see how the people lived. “Giving away hams doesn’t solve our problems” said one resident.
There was a universal call for more help from the government. "No one wants to help the poor, they just come to when misfortune happens," said one of the dwellers.