My city was broken but my people were not. I returned to Mexico just to find some of the streets I grew up on, and not recognize them.
There are dozens of buildings slumped by the 7.1-magnitude earthquake which pieces of burbled cement are covered by a blanket of blue, red and white helmets. The workers stop, raise their fists and ask for silence. It is the sign that, perhaps, they have found someone alive among the rubble. Then, they lower their arms and that multicolored blanket moves again looking for another opportunity.
Not far back, behind a police tape, are waiting hundreds of relatives. It is two o’clock in the morning and they have not left. Nor will they leave, until they know if their mother, if her brother, if her son, is among the dead.
The behavior reflects the best of Mexico.
In addition to marvelous solidarity, Mexicans have demonstrated an extraordinary response capacity following the earthquake. And I’m sure this will extend to many other things. We Mexicans choose a new president next July 1, 2018 and this earthquake will be very fresh in the memory of future voters.
The lie about Frida Sofia – the alleged 12-year-old girl who was about to be rescued in a school that fell – took away the little credibility left to the government at a crucial time. High officials of the Navy and even the Secretary of Education fed during the most critical hours a false narrative that suited a government that wanted to be seen as efficient and compassionate to the national tragedy.
There are many, but the first conclusion is that journalists and citizens can not trust the information that comes from the government of Peña Nieto.
The healthiest attitude of any reporter is to always distrust what governments say.
Just as it is impossible to believe the official version on the purchase of the White House and the disappearance of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa, it is also very difficult to believe the tale of an honest and capable government after the earthquake.
I turned on the TV and it was a deja vu. Again, as in the earthquake of September 19, 1985, I saw how the neighbors were the first to help other neighbors.
The army, the Red Cross, and the moles-those incredible creatures that get in and out of the holes looking for life-would appear later. But the first rescuers were citizens.
I have come across great examples of Mexican ingenuity.
In Mexicali I met many students from CETYS University, whose medium-term objective is to be among the 10 best study centers in the world (and I’m sure they will achieve it). Faced with every insult from Donald Trump against Mexican immigrants, I usually think of the Baja California neurosurgeon, Alfredo Quiñones, who has saved thousands of lives in the Mayo clinic and in the best hospitals in the United States. And Mexican hands are those of thousands of gardeners and workers who are cleaning and lifting back up Texas and Florida after the passage of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
The earthquake, it is true, has us all with a heart pounding.
Recovering from this brutal blow is going to take years. But in almost all my talks I have found a surprising and renewed optimism among Mexicans. In the streets where I grew up as a youth there is an energy, almost euphoria, that I have never seen before.
In the face of adversity there have been a thousand encouraging responses to Mexican ingenuity. Even in the most difficult moments – as happens after an earthquake – together we can move forward. Just as the civil mobilization after the earthquake of 1985 was the prelude to the first democratic elections in Mexico in the year 2000, the earthquake of this 2017 has already left a clear lesson: we are not going to leave.
Story contributed by : Ramsey Perez