URBAN STUDIES SUMMARY 1
URBANSTUDIES SUMMARY OF REVERBERATIONS: MEXICO CITY’S 1985 EARTHQUAKEAND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE CAPITAL
Natural disasters are likely to interfere with the daily lives ofhuman beings. They come in different forms such as famine and floods.Mexico City experienced the calamity when the coast was hit byearthquakes. The recovery process of such disasters varies acrossnations. For instance, following the tragedy in Mexico City, the townwas said to qualify as a resilient one. The key points highlighted inthe article focus on the people’s understanding of the city, thefact that reconstruction does not constitute a recovery, andresilience can be both beneficial and disadvantageous.
The common definition of a city constitutes the physical buildingsthat are constructed in the urban area, but in reality, a town ismore than the structures. The earthquake in Mexico City led mostindividuals to comprehend this notion in a better way than text ortheories could. The disaster led people to understand that a city canbe defined as the physical structures as well as the infrastructure,social, economic, and political institutions that are involved in thegoverning of the affairs of the town residents. Therefore, whendetermining whether Mexico qualifies as a resilient city, it might beessential to focus on all these elements as it allows one tounderstand the recovery and restoration process after the earthquake.
Another key point discussed in the article is the impact of thedisaster in Mexico. It is believed that the calamity affected allaspects of life such that the attempt to reconstruct and recover fromthe effect of the catastrophe became a real struggle. Urban life hadbeen completely disrupted. The initial post-earthquake recovery andreconstruction attempts were also dreadful due to the politicalstatus of the country and the social injustices that were beingpracticed.
The City in Mexico was the most affected by the earthquake. Theinitial plan of the urban area had led to the centralization of allessential services in the town. Therefore, when the calamity struck,the physical damage was witnessed in the communication and transportsector. The telephone lines were destroyed, and since the electricitysubstations were in the central region, there were power outages thatdisrupted the subway services. The public medical facilities werealso affected since the major hospitals were located in the worst hitareas which created medical crises. The government and the citizenshad to construct alternative treatment locations for the disastervictims. The paralyzed transport and communication system impliedthat thousands of the citizens lacked the basic amenities such asfood and water since the magnitude of the earthquake was highest atthe center of the city where most services were controlled.
Besides the centralization challenge in Mexico City, management wasalso another issue that affected the recovery and restoration processin the urban areas. The government had conflicting priorities indetermining which areas should be first addressed in thereconstruction implementation plan due to the immense politicalpressures at the time. For instance, the authorities focused onrestoring the economic activities of the city by reassuring externallenders and investors while the citizens were interested inrecovering the dignity and accountability of the government. The highlevel of corruption and abuse of authority by those in power had madethe Mexicans to demand the de-legitimization of the government. Thelocal citizens even decided to implement their recovery programs. Forinstance, when the garment factories where the locals workedcollapsed, the police only saved the plant owner and began salvagingthe equipment as opposed to the many lives that were trapped in therubble.
The article portrays the idea that the earthquake in Mexico Cityapparently brought out the character of the town as one that promotessocial inequality. People have had the belief that the rich inMexican society are more privileged than the modest residents who aresuffering in the hands of the authorities. Most individuals wereconvinced of this perception during the earthquake because of theirfirst-hand experiences. For instance, the homes that collapsed duringthe tragedy included the public housing projects that wereconstructed for the middle-class workers in the country. Thedestruction was attributed to the poor construction standards thatthe government failed to observe during their implementation of theprogram. The social inequality was also witnessed when the Mexicangovernment decided to use the funds for reconstruction aid toeliminate the nation’s foreign debt. Such a decision implied thatthe elite would continue to benefit from stable financialinstitutions while the poor remained homeless.
Resilience being both a bad and good thing is also a conceptdiscussed in the article. It is an issue because it made thereverberation of the earthquake to last for an extended period andshake the foundation of the city deeply. However, the local citizenswere empowered and managed to challenge the corrupt government.Mexico City residents had been denied their right of participating inthe Mayoral elections and democratic rule of the capital center. Thecalamity enabled them to challenge the ruling party and facilitateurban reforms that saw the end of a single-party rule. Besides thepolitical changes, Mexico also altered the economic institution byengaging in large-scale investment in the tourism and financialsectors although the move generated new conflicts among the residentsliving in downtown. Hence, the recovery and restoration process for acountry after a calamity can initiate significant changes.