lack of space in cemetery – fr

lack of space in cemetery – fr

LIMA, Peru (AP) – After Joel Bautista died from a heart attack last month in Peru, his family tried unsuccessfully to find an available grave in four different cemeteries. After four days, they resorted to digging a hole in his garden.

The excavation in a poor area of ​​the capital Lima was broadcast live on television, attracting the attention of the authorities and prompting them to offer the family a space on the rocky slopes of a cemetery.

“If there is no solution, then there will be a space here,” Yeni Bautista told The Associated Press, explaining the family’s decision to dig at the base of a tropical hibiscus after the body of his brother began to decompose.

The same fate is shared by other families across Peru. After struggling to control the coronavirus pandemic for more than a year, the country is now facing a parallel crisis: a lack of cemetery space. The problem affects everyone, not just relatives of COVID-19 victims, and some families have acted alone, digging clandestine graves in areas surrounding some of Lima’s 65 cemeteries.

The dire lack of options comes as the country goes through the deadliest period of the pandemic to date. More than 64,300 people who tested positive for COVID-19 have died in Peru, according to the health ministry, but that figure is almost certainly an undercount. A vital statistics agency estimates the actual figure to be over 174,900, including those whose possible infection has not been confirmed by a test.

As late as April, an infected person died every four minutes at home or in hospital, and hospital space was so scarce that Peruvians read on social media of families offering kidneys, cars or land in exchange for one of the country’s 2,785 crash courses. care beds.

Even when cemetery space can be found, burials represent a huge financial burden, especially for families who have fallen into poverty due to COVID-19. The cost of a burial in a cemetery on the outskirts of Lima is nearly $ 1,200, nearly five times the minimum monthly wage of $ 244.

Retired merchant Victor Coba took matters into his own hands, building graves for himself, his wife and four other relatives in a narrow space in a cemetery at the foot of a treeless hill north of Lima.

Coba, 72, hauled bricks, sand and cement to the site, where, with the help of a friend, he began to build his “eternal home”. He and his wife decided to act after watching the news and learning that two dozen neighbors have died from COVID-19.

“You feel very worried when there is nowhere to take them and there is no money to bury them,” Coba said.

Many of Peru’s sprawling cemeteries have developed without any development plan or government approval. They lack walls or fences and are adjacent to irregular settlements, sometimes making it almost impossible to determine where they end and where poor communities start. Graves are now encroaching on settlements.

Of the 65 cemeteries in Lima, only 20 have a health license. One on a Hidden Hill has been operating for 24 years and requires no paperwork for the funerals, which cost $ 361.

“Many cemeteries are collapsing,” said Martín Anampa, an official from Carabayllo, Lima’s oldest municipality. “We are living the result of a bad planning process that they have experienced throughout history.”

Juan Bañez, 51, father of two, died of COVID-19 after waiting for a bed in intensive care. His cousin, Felix Albornoz, and other friends recently carried his coffin through a cemetery on a dusty hill to bury it in a recently expanded area of ​​the cemetery.

“In the suburbs of Lima, in poor areas, people come to bury themselves in the hills,” Albornoz said. “There is no support. The government has abandoned us.

Back in the district of Virgen de Fátima, in the far east of Lima, Joel Bautista died on May 1 at the age of 45. He lost his sight when he finished college due to a congenital illness. He was unemployed but helped his sister and nieces in the house, which they all shared.

He was a fan of the Mexican rock band Maná. Their song “Corazón Espinado” was played constantly during the vigil, which lasted longer than expected due to the struggle to find a place to bury it.

“Everything is at a critical point because of this pandemic that we are going through,” said Yeni Bautista, 52. “Cemeteries are collapsing due to deaths from COVID, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to deny us space. I’m not asking for a huge area, but a small space to bury it.


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