Mexico’s September Earthquake Prompts Calls for Anti-Corruption Push

Published: 06 October 2017

Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 1.21.59 PMStorkholm Photography CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

By Renée Picard

The recent earthquake that devastated Mexico City prompted increased calls for tougher anti-corruption measures, as many say bribery allowed for greater structural damage.

Corruption has long plagued the country and has stunted economic growth.

“This is the issue that we need to solve in order to close the circle and really have a much better economic performance,” the Governor of the Bank of Mexico, Agustin Carstens, told the newspaper Reforma in an interview that was published on Wednesday.

The September 19th earthquake that killed hundreds and left many more wounded may have resulted in less loss of life and damage if the existing strict building codes were correctly implemented.

“The problem is corruption, officials taking bribes to give the green light on bad building,” political scientist Lorenzo Meyer explained to TIME magazine.

Citizens are disgruntled with corruption and impunity and display less patience with the government, as shown in surveys cited by sociologist Gema Santamaría.

Tens and thousands of individuals are awaiting answers to their requests for engineers to access structural damages.

The most controversial of these investigations is over a private school in Mexico City that collapsed in the tremor tragically killing 19 children and six adults.

There are questions of whether the owners of the school expanded the building unethically. As mentioned in The New York Times, the school, “had been cited twice for building without a permit — first in 2010 and again in 2014. Both times, the school applied retroactively for a permit, paid the fine and resumed construction.”

When President Enrique Peña Nieto toured a town wrecked by the earthquake, a local student yelled, “Grab a shovel” as others booed, The Guardian reported. 

With Mexico’s next presidential election approaching in 2018, an agenda for the upheaval of corruption appears to be a strong qualifier for those seeking a place in the next administration.