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Mexicans Accuse Soldiers Of Hoarding Aid

Mon., Oct. 20, 1997

Growing tension between Acapulco residents and hurricane aid workers added to Mexico’s hardships Sunday, as the nation tries to rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Pauline.

About 2,000 people lined up in the blazing sun outside the main shelter in the Renacimiento neighborhood, where armed soldiers stood guard at a wrought-iron gate.

Some of the residents - who lined up as early as 5 a.m. for bottled water - accused soldiers of hoarding relief supplies.

“We want water to drink,” said Javier Arrendondo, a 32-year-old television repairman. “Those soldiers, they don’t care about us. They have everything inside, and they take it to their houses.”

For their part, soldiers accused some residents of taking advantage of relief efforts. Inside the shelter, Maj. Raul Guillermo, an army surgeon, grumbled about the lines.

“There’s enough water in their houses for them to take showers,” he said. “These people are just too lazy to boil it.”

He said the homes of most people in line didn’t suffer hurricane damage - a fact confirmed by many of them - and that water had been running in the neighborhood for several days.

When pressed by a reporter, many people who claimed they had no water conceded they actually had water - but didn’t trust its cleanliness.

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