Kidnapping the reconstruction

Thousands of people lost their properties after the September 19 earthquake yet there is a lack of transparency in how the reconstruction funds are being managed

Demolition of the Rébsamen School – Photo: Luis Cortés/EL UNIVERSAL
English 21/02/2018 08:56 Mexico City Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL Actualizada 08:56

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The wounds from the September 19 earthquake are still open. Thousands of people lost their property and most of them are still waiting – without any kind of certainty – for Mexico City authorities to do something. Quakes are still taking place and the consequences of what happened five months ago remain unclear.

Despite all this, in recent days there's been evidence of the priorities of those who control a good portion of the local policies, and these interests go against those of the general public. Three deputies of the Legislative Assembly decided to grant themselves the legal powers to approve, supervise, and oversee the management of MXN$8.7 million – public funds allocated for the reconstruction of Mexico City. No cent is spent unless they give their joint approval.

Local deputies Jorge Romero, of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), Leonel Luna, and Mauricio Toledo, both of the left Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), have claimed these are “malicious and libelous claims” yet they refuse to be transparent with the use of the reconstruction funds. They control the funds, rejecting expenditure audits.

This fact has caused the resignation of the person in charge and the members of the Reconstruction Commission – formed by the Mexico City Government – who argued that in addition to encountering obstacles to be transparent with the use of the funds, the deputies made a budget plan unrelated to the work being performed by the Commission itself.

It's clear all there is in this year's agenda for the Mexico City government is the election. Jorge Romero, Leonel Luna, and Mauricio Toledo are politicians who have a considerable influence in the structures of their parties in the capital city, thus, there are grounds enough to demand transparency with the reconstruction funds. Making sure that these funds aren't channeled to campaigns is in their hands, and in their role as legislators, they should accept to have civil socety organizations supervising the management of said funds.

Despite their stern rebuff to acquiesce to the demands of the general public, to be held accountable and be transparent with the citizens, at least two of these legislators will become federal deputies according to the principle of proportional representation. Not only will they leave their positions under a cloud of suspicion arising from the management of the funds but they will also receive immunity before any eventual legal proceeding against them their lack of transparency may lead to.

There are families in Mexico City who lost everything because of the earthquake. Seizing and diverting funds aimed to the reconstruction of a part of these people's lives is plainly unacceptable.