Spanish/Nat More than twenty years after an earthquake devastated the country, thousands of Nicaraguans still live in squalor. A group of squatters who have made a wrecked building their home face eviction, as the government plans to finally demolish and rebuild the structures. And so far the government has not offered to relocate them. A boy knocks on the door of a wrecked building in Managua. The door does not lead to an abandoned playground or place of hiding. It leads to his home and those of scores of others who have no other place to go. The building was devastated during the December 1972 earthquake. Since then it has never been repaired and it still holds a promotional sign advertising the once new apartments. Without money and public housing facilities, the squatters have been forced to make these ruins their home. SOUNDBITE: (Spanish) We live here in this wrecked place because we have no other place to go and we don't have money to buy a house and another thing...there are no jobs. SUPER CAPTION: Squatter The squatters lack electricity and drinking water. They blame the government for doing very little to solve the housing crisis. Humanitarian aid provided after the quake- during the regime of Anastasio Somoza- was apparently never used to restore the buildings or build new houses for the victims. It's been more than twenty years and the squatters say the current government has proved as hopeless as the previous ones. SOUNDBITE: (Spanish) There's no hope in the government. We'll wait for the new government and we'll struggle. In the meantime I have to live here because I have no place to live, I'm poor, I live on this (selling peanuts) which is enough so I won't need to beg. SUPER CAPTION: Squatter The squatters now face eviction by government authorities, who plan to demolish the buildings and replace them with new structures. So far officials have not offered to relocate the squatters. Still the government claims there's been progress in dealing with the housing crisis. SOUNDBITE: (Spanish) The government under direct contract with national construction companies- through the Ministry of Construction and Transport- has built almost 3-thousand houses for specific groups of people and through the Housing Bank the government has built around 3-thousand new houses during the Violeta's (President Violeta Chamorro) term. SUPER CAPTION: Rene Arguello, President Housing Bank Nicaragua will hold presidential elections in October and candidates are including the housing problem in their agendas. And although the squatters are skeptical about more electoral promises, they hope the new government will lay the foundation for decent family housing. You can license this story through AP Archive: Find out more about AP Archive:


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