Home / Observatory / Politics / Anger At The Response To Mexico Earthquake May Bring Political Aftershocks!


Elected officials were booed and even chased out of stricken neighbourhoods after patchy provision of aid and perceived lack of engagement by senior politicians!

A group of political operatives turned up in the borough of Xochimilco in the south of the capital two days after Rosario Islas's cinderblock shack collapsed in Mexico's massive earthquake last week. 

The operatives brought food, water and building materials with them, but before they would hand any of these aids, they demanded Islas her government-issued voter ID.

However, Islas was unable to comply. "I told them it was buried under the rubble," she said. "What little we had was all lost."

When Islas could not provide her voter ID, the party operatives left her and walked away with their relief packages as well. 

Even though Mexicans have responded to the 7.1 magnitude earthquake with neighbourly charity, civic activism and national pride, some politicians and public officials have been accused of trying to take advantage of a tragedy that left more than 300 dead and many more homeless. 

This has caused complete outrage in a country where corruption scandals and pervasive impunity have fueled a deep mistrust of the political class and the state structure. 

Last week, President Enrique Pena Nieto was booed by students as he walked through a damaged town in his home state. 

"Grab a shovel!", one of them shouted to the President. 

Locals say that most of the immediate disaster response was focused on richer parts of the capital and official help was slow to reach Xochimilco. 

"There hasn't been any assistance from the borough, the Mexico City government or the federal government," said one of many small farmers in San Gregorio, Sergio de Los Santos. 

If the earthquake brought about an outbreak of national unity, it has also revealed the depth of dissatisfaction with the country's political class.

Mexico's political parties were due to receive roughly £165m in public funding in 2018 (election year), but following the calls from activists and celebrities on social media, all the main groupings have pledged to divert part of the money towards the earthquake relief.

However, very few politicians have stepped up to help and get their hands dirty.

"You haven't seen a single cabinet member hauling a bucket of rubble away from a building," said Adrian Rueda, a local political columnist. 

In the state of Morelos, one of the regions closest to the earthquake's epicentre, Catholic bishop Ramon Castro accused the state government of diverting aid packages to that it could claim credit for the supplies. 

These allegations were denied, but governor Graco Ramirez was still jeered by crowds as he toured the state on Sunday. 

Some analysts believe that this 2017 earthquake could bring about change in the country's politics, as it has done in history.

Ilan Semo, a historian at the Iberoamerican University, said that issues including reconstruction and housing will come up in 2018's election campaign and could galvanize voters to create new political organizations. 

He warned that the traditional parties may want to prevent a development like this: "They don't want people to organise over this," he said.


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