The desperate search for corpses in the morgues of Guayaquil continued this Tuesday with complaints from family members who have been waiting for more than twenty days to find out the whereabouts of their loved ones, without the authorities being able to offer them comfort.
These are dozens of deaths in city hospitals and bodies collected from homes by the Joint Task Force (FTC) that operates, under the command of Jorge Wated, throughout the province of Guayas, of which Guayaquil is the capital, in the midst of the crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic.
22 DAYS WAITING
One of the most extreme cases is that of Carlos Martillo, whose mother, Rosa Elena Alvarado, died on March 30 at the Guasmo Sur hospital and to date has no news of the body.
“The day they were going to give us his body, a contingent from the Navy arrived and they evicted everyone. From that moment we do not know where he is,” Martillo denounced to Efe.
According to the death certificate, Alvarado died at age 82 from “coronavirus pneumonia.”
“It’s still there (in the hospital). Starting today, we started to bury them,” was the last notification the FTC family received on April 14.
However, the woman’s name does not appear on the page that the Government enabled to search for the deceased in Guayaquil in the framework of this pandemic.
Alvarado is part of the imprecise statistics that have been handled this last month and a half in the province of Guayas, where the official balance totaled at 7,108 coronavirus infections on Tuesday and 238 deaths.
Those data do not include other close to 8,000 dead that since February 29 have been added to the usual statistics (about 2,000 a month) and that in March caused the absolute collapse of cemeteries and funeral services, forcing many to take to the streets the mortal remains of their relatives.
And although the collection has been regularized, authorities say, for many the chaos of the burials continues.
IN SEARCH OF GRANDFATHER
Wated, who answers in person to certain requirements that label him on social networks, gave this Monday a similar response to Ivonne Morales.
“He is in Guasmo, during this week we will be burying this group,” replied the head of the FTC in reference to a publication that she had made by networks about the disappearance of the body of her grandfather.
He was one of the hundreds of bodies that Criminalística evacuated from their homes in the first two weeks of this month, after spending several days among the family.
“My grandfather died on April 1 at an aunt’s house and from there they took him to the containers at the Guasmo Sur hospital. When they picked him up, the policemen said that they would take them to a mass grave and that we would no longer know anything about him. However, the elder who was in charge of the uprising told us that he would go to Parque de la Paz, “Morales tells Efe.
In the cemetery they have told the family that there are no records of those who enter from that medical center, and “in the hospital, instead, they say that they don’t know anything either.”
“It has been all chaos,” Morales complains about the twenty days of waiting for some information, and he fears that in the end it is not the body of his “grandfather who is being buried.”
“I have listened to people who find the names of their relatives in other bodies,” concludes the Guayaquil woman.
Although the first cases of contagion in the country were not found there, Guayaquil is ground zero of the spread of the pandemic in Ecuador, where today official data brings the number of infections to almost 10,400 and 520 deaths.
The Government also recognizes another 902 deaths as “probable contagions”, but the other almost 8,000 “extra” cases found by the Civil Registry in Guayas will remain as part of secondary statistics due to the impossibility of knowing the causes of death.
The FTC says it has collected more than 1,400 bodies from hospitals and medical centers, and that it has buried more than half of them in an arduous process that in many cases requires identifying the deceased using forensic techniques.
THE CHAOS IN THE STREETS
But chaos does not only occur in burials. Also in the streets is the contempt for the orders to stay at home dictated by the Government, despite the fact that only in Guayaquil is concentrated 51% of all cases of contagion in the country.
The increase in vehicular and pedestrian flow has been increasing over the days, to the point that, on Monday and Tuesday, long lines of cars crowded together on the main entrance bridge to the city, almost like a working day normal.
“We see that the vehicles that are authorized to leave are doing so to carry out normal activities, outside the allowed that it is to stock up on food and medicine,” said the manager of the Municipal Transit Authority, Andrés Roche, referring to the misuse that citizenship makes authorized safe-conducts.
The unusual – for these days – crowding in markets, shopping malls, pharmacies and popular neighborhoods of the city, has led the government to change, for the third time since restrictions began on March 16, the safe-conducts.
“The increase in mobility is very worrying and dangerous. In the last week the increase in Guayaquil is 17.7%. If we let our guard down we will lose lives,” President Lenín Moreno wrote on his Twitter account, in which he also He published a video with shots of traffic in which he is the Ecuadorian Wuhan.