Today, we commemorated two catastrophic earthquakes. The first, in 1985, and the other, just a year ago. Because of the major human and material losses it caused, the earthquake that occurred 33 years ago changed Mexico in many ways. These include its culture of disaster prevention, a strengthening of civil society, and the relationship between citizens and those running the government. Last year's earthquake will also provide lessons and have long-term effects on Mexican society.
It is impossible to predict such geological phenomena, but it is possible to better prepare ourselves to reduce human and physical losses and ensure that recovery is rapid and efficient.
Unfortunately, one year after the 2017 earthquake, in many places only the rubble remains. Many families have not received an adequate response from the authorities in terms of resolving the loss of their homes, belongings, and livelihoods, and they find themselves abandoned and forsaken. In many ways, recovery has stalled, as numerous damaged buildings have yet to be demolished, prevention efforts have been insufficient, and much of the budget allocated for reconstruction has not been used very transparently, in the best of cases.
Unfortunately, one year after the 2017 earthquake, in many places only the rubble remains. Many families have not received an adequate response from the authorities.
But Mexico is not the only country to experience this kind of negligence. Throughout the world we see the consequences of a serious lack of governance. In the governments of many countries, no one is responsible for anything. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the National Museum caught fire and an enormous collection of scientific and cultural objects was irretrievably lost, and no one was held responsible. In Genoa, Italy, an important bridge collapses, with the loss of dozens of lives and no one was held accountable. The same thing occurred in Greece. In the United States, thousands of detained immigrant children have disappeared in the system, and the federal government has done absolutely nothing to put an end to the massacres we see in schools and universities. One year after a devastating hurricane, Puerto Rico's recovery is insufficient.
What is the common thread in all this? Negligent, irresponsible, non-transparent governments, accountable to no one. They are very rapid and demanding in collecting taxes, but citizens receive few benefits in return.
This crisis of governance and the absence of the rule of law cannot continue. Our responsibility as citizens is to demand results and clear accounts from those in government who claim to represent us and who have the obligation to defend our interests.
This crisis of governance and the absence of the rule of law cannot continue. Our responsibility as citizens is to demand results.
In Mexico, this past July 1st, people showed how fed up they are at the polls. It is clear that the President-elect received the message and will seek to change this situation. Let’s hope he will succeed. But he will not be able to do so alone, as each and every one of us must show co-responsibility. It is key that we get involved as citizens, show interest in public affairs, and understand that what the government spends affects us.
We need to help the new government deliver on its promises to act honestly, transparently, and responsibly and to end corruption. We need to halt wasteful public spending, end insecurity, and provide opportunities for young people to build a future for themselves.
This is a good time to recall what we are capable of when we are united and seek the common good. Hopefully, the commemoration of these earthquakes will inspire us to become better citizens, to avoid indifference, and to demand accountability and results from those in government– at all levels. From the rubble of these two earthquakes a better country will have to emerge. This is our responsibility.