MEXICO CITY – The support networks that were built after the September 2017 earthquakes that hit Mexico, which left 471 people dead, did not persist over time, but did fuel a political change that favored the electoral victory of President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, experts said on Saturday.
The earthquakes strengthened “the vote for a political change” and for a change “in the way decisions are made in government,” Maribel Flores, political science professor at the Tecnologico de Monterrey University, told EFE.
The earthquakes and the lack of a proper government response reinforced the widespread rejection of the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto, helping explain how Lopez Obrador managed to win the July 1 election with more than 50 percent of the vote, Flores said.
The wave of solidarity throughout Mexico was immense, especially after the Sept. 19 earthquake – the first anniversary of which will be commemorated next Wednesday.
Millions of people organized themselves to make donations and deliver aid to those who were affected and lost their homes in the earthquakes.
According to Flores, who became involved in those efforts, regular citizens “surpassed the government” in providing aid.
That spirit of solidarity slowly dwindled, and, one year after the earthquakes, many of the people who were affected have stopped receiving aid and continue to live in precarious conditions.
The main problem, however, is the lack government attention, as it did not create mechanisms for citizen participation or programs to rapidly rebuild, Juan Martin Perez, director of the Mexican Child Rights Network, told EFE.
Lopez Obrador, who will be sworn in on Dec. 1, has promised to carry out profound changes, including the establishment of a reconstruction plan for the regions most affected by the earthquake, a plan that has created expectations for many of those who lost their homes a year ago.
Hermilio Baltazar, who has been living under a tarp for a year after his house in Mexico City collapsed in the Sept. 19 earthquake, is optimistic of the upcoming government.
“I hope they will fulfill their promises,” Baltazar said.