Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mexico's 1985 Earthquake Awoke a Social Earthquake That Is Still Roiling

[Huffington Post] Many things changed after the devastating September 19, 1985 earthquake, measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale, struck Mexico City. Mexico's president was Miguel de la Madrid, champion of a failed "moral renewal" campaign, and the city's mayor was Ramón Aguirre Velázquez, a man close to the president and a candidate to succeed him.
That September morning, the monolith that was the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) began to crumble, along with tens of thousands of buildings, while the phantom of systemic corruption rose up among the ghosts of many thousand dead. "The tragedy that devastated us yesterday has been one of the worst ever in the history of Mexico. There are hundreds of dead and wounded. We don't have the exact or final numbers yet," Miguel de la Madrid said in his first message to the Mexican people, 36 hours after the earthquake struck at 7:19 a.m. Thirty years later, no one can explain why the President of the Republic kept silent for a day and a half, unless he was struck dumb morally.
In his absence, Mexico's Tenochtitlan Federal District was taken over by its inhabitants. During the President's disappearance, people discovered that the city was vulnerable: electricity, water, gas, telephone and transportation services were all affected; people streamed into the streets to rescue relatives, friends and anyone else trapped in the ruined structures and to search for the missing. Burials of the dead began. Heroes emerged from the crowd, such as La Pulga (The Flea), who risked his life digging through the ruins to find survivors. At the Tlatelolco housing complex, among volunteers trying to find family members buried under the remains of the 13-story Nuevo Leon building's 288 apartments, Plácido Domingo dug through the rubble with his hands trying to find his aunt, uncle, nephew and grandnephew, but they had perished. On Sept. 23, the Group of 100 declared to the media that, "Now more than ever it's glaringly obvious that corruption is a disastrous builder. The number of public buildings, including government offices, public housing, schools and hospitals, that were destroyed in the earthquake is alarming. However, it's not by chance that the Historic Center in downtown Mexico City, built to last, survived both earthquakes." Read More