Citizens fear corruption as earthquake aid dispersed in Mexico

World Today

Volunteers separate donated food supplies at the Red Cross headquarters in Mexico City. Photo: Franc Contreras.

Tens of thousands remain homeless in southern Mexico after a devastating earthquake struck nearly two weeks ago. They remain in need of food, water and basic supplies, which some doubt will ever arrive.

CGTN’s Franc Contreras reports from Mexico City.

At the Red Cross headquarters in the Mexican capital, citizens drop off aid for the victims of the 8.1 magnitude earthquake that killed nearly 100 people. Around 2,000 volunteers then separate the donated supplies, which include stockpiles of canned tuna, thousands of bags of rice and beans, and drinking water.

Across the country, more than 600 tons of food aid has been gathered by volunteers and deposited in similar Red Cross centers. Questions linger, however, on whether or not this aid will actually reach the most-needy.

People revealed their distrust of government officials and worries about possible corruption. They said they prefer to give food aid, rather than deposit money into bank accounts created specifically for earthquake relief efforts.

Those who are more fortunate have found ways to help outside of the government.

Natalia Toledo, a poet from Juchitan, has converted her Mexico City apartment into an earthquake aid center.  She said she’s doing this because many victims prefer to receive help directly from other citizens. 

“I do not really trust the government or institutions to get the aid where it belongs,” Toledo said. “We are artists and activists living in Mexico City. That’s our strong suit: people in Juchitan believe in us.”


Officials said citizens are turning to new methods for tracking aid, and keeping tabs on those distributing it.

“For full accountability and transparency, the public no longer waits for institutions to inform them,” according to Red Cross National Volunteer Coordinator Fernando Rivera Muñoz. “They now use social media like Facebook to keep tabs on us. If the aid does not arrive, they say so on the internet.”

Muñoz was unsure of the precise route the aid takes to the quake victims, but he said that many skeptical citizens are watching the effort very closely.

Meanwhile, about 1,000 homeless families in Juchitan said their need for basic necessities like housing, food, water and medicine will continue for months to come.