El Gobierno Es Bullshit!

Posted on December 29, 2017


El gobierno es pura bullshit!”

Using one of the few words in English that he’d learned as a migrant worker in northern California, the squat, muscular grandfather, resident of Unión Hidalgo, Oaxaca, gestured towards the rubble that had been the concrete block house he’d built. Like tens of thousands of others in southern part of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec he’d lost everything to the September 7, 2017 earthquake that shattered lives and businesses.

And showed to the world that Mexico’s federal and Oaxaca’s state governments not only were disorganized and incapable but also corrupt.

Aid poured in immediately from China, Israel, Cuba, Colombia but bureaucrats in Mexico City fumbled over how to designate funds. Banks set up special accounts to which residents throughout Mexico could contribute without making it clear who the recipients of the donations would be. Oaxaca’s director of health services diverted truckloads of food, blankets and clothing to a local warehouse. The governor of Morelos waylaid truckloads of goods bound for Oaxaca to distribute later as election bribes. The municipal presidents of Juchitán, Unión Hidalgo, Chicapa de Castro and other communities in the Isthmus confiscated goods to give to friends and political party associates. Members of PRI (the governor of Oaxaca’s and Mexico’s president’s party) intercepted aid sent from outside Oaxaca and passed it out to those who’d voted for them. Marines dispatched to the area surveyed the damage and marked buildings that needed to be demolished but according to residents “didn’t dirty their gloves” despite the devastation. What happened to the hundreds of thousands of pesos sent to bank accounts remained uncertain but the money didn’t reach the homeless and destitute.

Hospitals damaged by the quake were closed. The federal and state governments had no contingent plans for dealing with the lack of medical assistance (or didn’t know how to activate them) but the government of Cuba immediately dispatched over thirty doctors—specialists in emergency care—to the afflicted communities. The U.S. government sent nothing but individual NGOs—and hastily formed immigrant groups—did.

Oaxaca’s state government issued one-time-only bank payments for $15,000 pesos ($750.00 U.S.)to individuals and families whose houses had been damaged but suppliers immediately ran out of cement, rebar and lumber and many heads of families had to use the money for medical supplies, food and clothing. Throughout the month of September heavy rains inundated the Isthmus. Residents huddled under tarpaulins or in camp tents; others in cramped emergency shelters. A Juchitán nightclub owner closed during the days so the space could be used as a grammer school. The state government cleaned up its capital and recreational port cities for Day of the Dead tourist excursions and Mexico president Peña Nieto and a huge entourage of hangs ons trotted off to Europe to encourage investment in Mexico.

Three months after the quake there still were over 20,000 homeless in the Isthmus. The state legislative voted itself a substantial raise and paved the way for more foreign wind energy development in the area. Many schools and the major hospitals remained closed and the venerable grandfather in Unión Hidalgo insisted to whoever would listen:

El gobierno es pura bullshit!”

Posted in: Mexico Unveiled