On May 3, the night of Mexico was shrouded in tragedy, after a Mexico City subway collapsed near Olivos station, which tumbled down, killing at least 23 people and seriously injuring 70 others. The worst part of the tragedy is not surprising: the capital’s subway is falling apart due to the systematic incompetence of the pro-AMLO regime, which disguises its carelessness under the pretext of “austerity.”
The tragedy the left created
Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his political allies have had almost absolute control of Mexico City for more than two decades, starting with the triumph of Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas in 1997. He was followed as head of government by AMLO himself (2000-2006) and then (2006-2012) by Marcelo Ebrard (his current Secretary of Foreign Affairs). Between 2012 and 2018 the city was governed by Miguel Ángel Mancera, an AMLO ally (until before his conflict), and currently, Claudia Sheinbaum, one of the people closest to the president, governs.
During all this time López Obrador and his allies have been in charge of giving maintenance to the Mexico City subway, and they have failed to do so. Technological and infrastructure failures have multiplied to the point of putting at risk the very survival of the network, which transports 4.6 million passengers daily and is indispensable for the functioning of the capital.
In spite of the typical leftist discourse in favor of public transportation, the governments in favor of the Obrador administration built only one new subway line, line 12, built during Marcelo Ebrard’s administration. The problem? It not only registered a cost overrun of millions of dollars, but also presented so many irregularities and construction problems that it has required constant suspensions and investments of more than 90 million dollars to fix flaws. And it is that same line that collapsed this week.
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Regarding Olivos station, warnings were in sight. Since 2017 there have been complaints about structural problems and in October 2020 new complaints emerged. Worse still, the president of the Mexican Society of Engineers pointed out in an interview with Forbes that “apparently they no longer provided follow-up or maintenance to the area… due to the lack of maintenance and follow-up… that is why it could have collapsed”.
In summary: due to incompetence or bad faith, the authorities did not take adequate measures and the consequences have been paid by more than 20 families who lost their fathers, mothers, or children in an absolutely preventable accident.
The Mexico city subway collapse
During Sheinbaum’s term at the helm of Mexico City, the subway budget has been reduced even more, to the point that in 2021 it is lower than in 2016. This is despite the internal audits themselves pointing out the lack of quality control in maintenance and corrective actions.
The result is a veritable assortment of accidents including, this year alone, the aforementioned collapse near Olivos station on line 12 (May 3); the failure of a train on line 8, which forced passengers to get off and walk in the darkness of the tunnel on one side of the tracks (April 29);
- a fire that paralyzed line 4 (April 23);
- the derailment of a car on line 3 (April 20);
- a “flamazo” on line 3 of the metro (February 10);
- the derailment of a car on Line A (January 12) and a fire that burned to the ground.
- a fire that completely burned down the Central Control Post I, paralyzing 6 subway lines (January 9).
These are not coincidences, but the direct result of a corrupt and incompetent government, which uses austerity as a pretext to avoid spending on what it should and divert those resources to flashy works and programs to buy political wills.
The Mexico City subway collapse is a symptom of the country’s collapse
The Mexico City subway collapse is a dramatic sign of what is happening throughout the country. Institutions and infrastructure are being demolished by authoritarianism, budget reductions and inept officials, while millions of dollars are being diverted to programs with clear political overtones, such as Sembrando Vida or Jóvenes Construyendo el Futuro, and to pharaonic works with no clear utility or sustainability, such as the 2 Bocas refinery, the Tren Maya and the Santa Lucia international airport.
Things are bad, and they could get much worse. A few weeks ago we talked about the enormous risk involved, for example, in the Laguna Verde nuclear power plant in the state of Veracruz, where there are also allegations of serious deficiencies in the maintenance and safety measures of the reactor, as always, under the pretext of austerity.
With the facts in sight, the López Obrador regime is a danger for Mexico, for America and for the entire region, not only because it is authoritarian, but also because it is inept. By making the tyrant’s whim into law, Mexico’s government is becoming increasingly incompetent and unhinged. They are getting more and more wrong and those mistakes are costing lives.
That is why AMLO must be stopped, out of simple common sense and a sense of survival. Counterweights and supervision are urgently needed so that tragedies due to the collapse of infrastructure and absurd mistakes do not continue to become a habit. This week subway cars fell down. Next week they may provoke a Chernobyl.
Gerardo Garibay Camarena, is a doctor of law, writer and political analyst with experience in the public and private sectors. His new book is "How to Play Chess Without Craps: A Guide to Reading Politics and Understanding Politicians" // Gerardo Garibay Camarena es doctor en derecho, escritor y analista político con experiencia en el sector público y privado. Su nuevo libro es “Cómo jugar al ajedrez Sin dados: Una guía para leer la política y entender a los políticos”