The forces of nature, the solidarity of a people and the weaknesses of the political establishment. Two earthquakes with dozens of replicas, five hurricanes and three storms have left a trail of death and destruction and highlighted the strength of the Mexican society. Having buried the dead, and abandoned the hope for finding survivors, the work of reconstruction began. Mexicans want to get their lives back, recompose their past and look with optimism into the future.
Lacking more tears to mourn their dead, the inhabitants of the regions devastated by the violence of nature are determined to look forward. The reconstruction will be slow, difficult, and full of obstacles and compromises. National solidarity made no one wait. It came up not with words but with concrete facts —food and medicines—on the day after the tragedies; and now, with money and materials for reconstruction. International assistance added itself to the disinterested help offered by thousands of Mexican families.
Mexico’s reconstruction will bring to the surface the different souls of any country. On the one hand, a people who struggle to remain in their homes, their city and their region, a people twined in pain; and, on the other, the world of business, for which misfortune becomes an opportunity for enrichment. On the one hand, national and international solidarity; on the other, local mafias who seek to take advantage of the misery of others. It is always so.
The “political” class is now in the position of the cheese within a sandwich. Depreciated and devalued by the recent acts of corruption, far from instilling confidence it inspires diffidence. Earthquakes, hurricanes and storms offer them now the opportunity to prove being otherwise.
Mexicans do not seem to believe the promises of political leaders, their councilmen, governors, representatives and ministers. President Enrique Peña Nieto’s popularity still suffers due to scandals involving his family. The ruling class in general is considered a “caste”, increasingly far away from the “street man” and insensitive to its needs. Political analysts wonder whether, at the gates of a new electoral campaign, the political class will be able to show that it is at the level of the situation.
The eyes of their detractors are focused on the expenses of political parties and the cost of official publicity. “Fundación Fundar para la Transparencia” (Fundar, Foundation for Transparency) estimated recently that the Federal Government spent almost 38 billion pesos on advertising. This figure represents, roughly, the estimated cost for the reconstruction of the country. In short, it is the sum that Mexico’s north and south need to return to normal.
The task presented to the protagonists of politics is not easy. Being only a few weeks away from a new election campaign, they should send a strong signal.
To implement its austerity plan, Peña Nieto’s government decided to cut funds from disaster risk reduction investment programs. In other words, in order to offset the deficit caused by the fall in oil revenues, he chose to reduce the financing of some projects; in particular, those aimed at reducing disaster risks, and strengthening “Civil Protection”. The government decision reduced by 50% the money destined to the fund for the prevention of natural disasters. Now the Executive seems to lack the money necessary to undertake the reconstruction of the regions devastated by the fury of nature.
The challenge of the political establishment is to regain the credibility it once enjoyed. The damages caused by earthquakes, hurricanes and storms represent a challenge for the country; and an opportunity for the political class.
“Si usted no tiene libertad de pensamiento, la libertad de expresión no tiene ningún valor.” - José Luis Sampedro