Mexico: About the earthquake, the Response, and the Governor who is stealing Humanitarian Aid.

The mega quake that destroyed Mexico city in 1985.

earthquake mexico
A romantic image of the nationalism that was born after the strongest quake in a century, in Oaxaca.

A closed fist indicates the need for complete silence in the hopes of hearing survivors.

Volunteers looking for survivors.

Men work to pull down a remaining section of roof as they demolish a home. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Boxes marked with DIF, the government institution.

The governor and his wife claim that they were redirecting them from their offices to make it easier to reach.

Messages of hope and love stamped on the aid people donate.

After the storm, the government offices are opened and welcoming volunteers.

Everyone has their eyes on Mexico lately. 

And yes, the help has been amazing, international aid has been vital, and the society has seen unity like never before. But there’s a lot more that’s cooking below the surface. Stories of crooked politicians, robbery and unsuspected heroes. This time, it also affected me. 

While nothing happened to my house, it was nothing short of terrifying. If you have never been hit by a strong earthquake where you live, I can tell you… It’s like feeling everything is going to hell right before your eyes. And it gets even worse when you watch the news. Your city, your state, your country… Brought to the ground in under a minute.

First things first: what happened?

A strong, 7.1 magnitude in the Richter scale earthquake has shaken Mexico. Alsocoinciding with the 32nd anniversary of the terrible earthquake of September 19, 1985. That one, caused thousands of casualties.

The earthquake that struck the country comes only eleven days after the largest earthquake in Mexico in the last century. On September 7th, a quake of magnitude 8.2 was detected in Chiapas, devastating the southeast part of the country, and affecting 5 other states. The first earthquake, followed by thousands of aftershocks, was even recorded by an observatory in Barcelona.

On Tuesday afternoon, hell broke loose. The earthquake destroyed dozens of buildings and damaged hundreds – if not thousands – of other structures. All of this, in 40 seconds.

  • So far, there are 325 deaths due to Tuesday’s earthquake, according to official sources.
  • One rescuer was killed and four were injured when a helicopter from the Mexican Attorney General’s Office was getting supplies for people in need.
  • Efforts are concentrated on locating missing persons. For the fourth consecutive day, the rescuers continue to work, although hopes tumbling.
  • Hundreds of aftershocks have worsened the situation.

The images are heartbreaking. The earthquake in Mexico was truly devastating.

The day Mexico became one

Thousands of Mexicans have taken over the rebuilding of Mexico. The response of Mexican society before the disastrous effects of 7 and 19 September, has shown a cohesive people and a solidarity citizenship.

Faced with crisis, citizens organized to support others. It made international headlines: Mexicans were taking over their fallen cities and bringing them back to life.

The experience of the earthquake in1985 left a great mark and invited the Mexican government to implement security procedures.  People knew how to respond in case of emergency, and that many involved in brigades to help their neighbors, co-workers or anyone in need.

In many of the affected cities, it is the citizens who took to the streets and took humanitarian aid actions. They didn’t need the government to tell them how to proceed, or to organize brigades or plans of action.

Mexican society has not stopped; it has taken humanitarian aid actions. There are no heroes or heroines, there are hundreds of strangers who are shaking hands with each other, and they build huge chains of community aid.

Mexico is going to be rebuilt from the solidarity of its people.

But not everything is as amazing as it seems – There’s a dark side to it all. 

While help has been sufficient, and anonymous heroes have surfaced, there are also characters who have clouded the good intentions of people. Now, I live in Morelos, and it was the epicenter and one of the most affected.

The Governor, Graco Ramírez, throughout his period, has received complaints of being corrupt, selfish, and basically unfit to govern. While many are asking for his destitution, or even face political trial, most people are not sitting for this. The same can be said for his wife.

The distribution of aid in Morelos does not stop causing confusion and exchange of complaints between state authorities and citizens. Since Thursday, September 21st, complaints surfaced that the Institution controlled by his wife,  DIF Morelos, is hoarding aid for those affected by the magnitude 7.1 earthquake. In social networks, videos abound denouncing that the government of Graco Ramírez is making political use of the aid and that does not allow it to get to the victims unless it comes from governmental hands, and trucks with help are being deviated to government buildings. (Source: Animal Político)

It has to be said, some of these trucks of help are coming from other governmental institutions, which is good. But most are coming from private donations, people who have come together and donated, and what to see those things get to the right people. 

The citizens reported through several videos that trailers full of food sent to Morelos for those affected by the earthquake were being diverted to warehouses of the state. According to people who made the allegations, the food, sent by civil society, would be taken to the warehouses and then labeled as a governmental aid for the affected areas. While may videos confirm the information, the government vehemently denies it. (Source: Proceso)

This cannot be allowed. 

People, in a collective rage, entered the building and sacked it, getting help back to distribute it where it is needed. Also, people have marked the articles they donate with hopeful messages. “You can do it", “keep your faith", “we love you" are some of the messages marked in cans, toilet paper, and baby food.

The government has denied the videos and reports, and has instead opened the doors to “public scrutiny". That’s what I call damage control. 

I didn’t post any of the videos (because they are all in Spanish), but you can look for extra information if you speak the language.

What can you do? 

There are many ways to help people in need in Mexico, from wherever you are.

  • Share this message, to show how Mexico suffers, but how amazing its people is.
  • Make a donation to Topos, Red cross, or individuals who you KNOW will help.
  • Sign the petition to help this Governor face the law. (That’s not his only shady deal)
  • If you find an NGO that brings something to Mexico, join. We need hands!
  • Keep on making a positive change in the world. It does matter! 

The Earthquake in Mexico, will not be over today. We have months of reconstruction ahead, but Mexico is not giving up!

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