Economic and Social Inequality Rears it’s Ugly Head in Disasters

Analysis by Reporting San Diego

Sep 23, 2017 (San Diego) The rescues you have seen at the Colonia Roma and Colonia Condesa have been heroic. Mexico has directed massive resources to the area. These are two middle-class neighborhoods. They are full of street-side cafes, restaurants, and hipsters. This is where many of the artists in Mexico City live.

There is nothing wrong with that. The response is needed, and teams are still trying to recover those who are buried under tons of rubble.

However, you have seen little from Xochimilco. For that matter Iztapalapa. These two are delegations that are far more working class. The small town of San Gregorio in Xochimilco has received some help, and the Army has responded. However, there was little media attention or a lot of resources directed to the small town. According to Milenio TV, over 300 homes were damaged to the point they will have to be demolished. The small pueblo is historic and is by the side of the famous channels of Xochimilco.

Iztapalapa is still having water shortages. Let me be clear. Iztalapalapa has always had water issues. Now they have been magnified. Some ten neighborhoods still lack power.

The city has over 3000 structures that have yet to be fully checked and some will have to be torn down.

That is just Mexico City.

In the state of Morelos, the small town of Jojutla was severely damaged. But outside of Mexican media and Twitter, you have not heard much. The town was very close to the epicenter, and they are suffering from many collapsed structures and other issues. Aid is coming, from Mexican teams, but rarely do you know of it. The same happened at Juchitan in Oaxaca, near the epicenter of the Sep 7 quake. Both were visited by President Enrique Pena Nieto, but help, in the form of food and water, is still slow in coming. Some Twitter users say that the president is good at photo ops but nothing else.

Xochietopan in Puebla is severely damaged. You might have heard of the city of Puebla, but not these small towns. 600 homes in Picaya, in the state of Puebla are also damaged or destroyed.

The list of towns is far longer than what I have listed. Nor is this just limited to Mexico. Whenever there is a disaster, issues of inequality shine. More privileged communities tend to get help faster. This also includes communities that are easier to reach. But disasters are also great mirrors into inequality in any society. Some of these towns are isolated. They are hard to reach for media. However, they are trying. Some are not that isolated. Xichimilco is not just reachable, but it is in Mexico City.

Xochimilco is poor. Media is now hightailing the issues.

I have witnessed the same in San Diego. Poor neighborhoods rarely get the attention or the aid from the government. It is just the way it is. But right now, in Mexico, we are seeing several processes take place. The first is the role of poverty, the second will be disaster capitalism, and how the disaster will be used to displace people and privatize services.

We will watch the same process in Puerto Rico. The power grid will be rebuilt, but not by a public entity we can bet. The same will happen in Texas and Florida. It is a reality that disasters if you know where to look, highlight inequality and exacerbate it. Those who are poor will remain such. Those who can exploit the disaster will make out like bandits. Usually, those are well connected to the powerful.

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