An interview with a relative of Chicago house fire victim


“Everything started failing for us”

An interview with a relative of Chicago house fire victim

George Gallanis

31 August 2018

Thursday evening, World Socialist Web Site reporters spoke with Olga Guzman, the great-aunt of 16-year-old Victor Mendoza, one of the ten children that were killed Sunday by a house fire in the city’s working-class neighborhood of Little Village.

Olga and her sister, Victor’s grandmother, sat next to a commemorative collage of Victor, celebrating his life. Along with other family members, friends and supporters, they were attending a continuing vigil for the ten children.

A collage commemorating Victor Mendoza

More than sixty workers and young people were once more in attendance for the vigil ahead of the funeral for the children on Saturday. Candles, photos, stuffed animals, balloons and cards of remembrance still adorned the street.

Absent again were any representatives from Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office or Little Village’s Alderman George Cardenas. Instead the mayor, the media and the political establishment have rushed to blame the victims of this social tragedy.

The grief of Olga and her family was at times eclipsed by their contempt for these figures, who have done nothing to help the victim’s families. As reporters began to speak to her, she immediately condemned Chicago’s Democratic Party politicians and the mainstream press.

Her face was stern as she relayed the tragic events and the impact on the community. “They say that the fire started in the other building. The stove exploded inside and broke all the windows.”

“Look at all the windows,” she pointed. “They’re broken. The fire then spread.”

“When the fire caught in this building where my nephew was, and when he went upstairs at…

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