By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
More than three months after the devastating earthquakes that struck Mexico on Sept. 7 and 19 of this year, the Mexican government has finally begun the tedious reconstruction and restoration of the more than 1,800 historical landmarks damaged by the tremors.
The quakes, which measured magnitude 8.2 and 7.1 magnitude, respectively, on the Richter scale, wreaked severe damage on some of Mexico’s most important cultural, architectural, archaeological and historical monuments in 11 states.
According to the Culture Secretariat (SC), 242 historical buildings were severely damaged by the tremors, 1,228 were moderately affected and 351 suffered minor damages.
Based on this information, the SC has devised a three-phase plan to rebuild and refurbish the affected structures with a massive team of more and 1,100 restoration and historic specialists from across the nation.
The secretariat has earmarked 8 billion pesos to pay for the restorations.
All repairs of the damaged works, which are located in Mexico City, Chiapas, the State of Mexico, Hidalgo, Morelos, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla, Tabasco, Tlaxcala and Veracruz, will be supervised by citizen committees to ensure transparency and continuity in the restoration process.
The central state of Puebla had the most damaged structures, registering 465 buildings that will require restoration, and has been chosen as the first focus of the reconstruction efforts, according to Culture Secretariat sources.
The southern state of Chiapas suffered the second-most damages, with 111 public and religious structures affected, including the San Cristóbal Museum, the Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo, the San Lorenzo Temple, the San Miguel Arcángel Temple, the Santo Domingo Temple, the Calvario Temple, the San Marcos Cathedral.
The western coastal state of Guerrero came in third place, with 83 damaged structures, including the famed 17th century Iglesia de Santa Prisca in Taxco.
In Mexico City, the Metropolitan Cathedral was so gravely damaged that the government had to remove two giant 220-ton sculptures by Manuel Tolsá from the church’s entrance to prevent them from suffering further harm.
And the walls of the Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles Temple in Colonia Guerrero were so badly cracked that parts of the building had to be totally removed.
SC sources predict that the entire restoration process could take up to 30 months.