Mexico Earthquake Revives Memories of 1985 Disaster and Brings Same Outpouring of Aid, Solidarity

MEXICO CITY — On the dawn of Sept. 19, 1985, immediately after a devastating earthquake that brought Mexico City to the brink of collapse, Mexicans took to the streets and led a worldwide aid effort to rescue neighbors.Among them was an unusual hero — a young government engineer by the name of Francisco de la Torre. He stood out among bureaucrats because of his sheer determination to rescue survivors at a time when the government was viewed with suspicion.So respected was de la Torre by his compatriots that he caught the attention of Elena Poniatowska, a respected French-born Mexican journalist. In her book Nada Nadie, she chronicled a scene involving him:“He looked like a Spanish painter ... beautiful face, an easy smile,” she wrote.De la Torre corrected her: “Of course, I’m Mexican, 100 percent. I’m the classic representative of the Mexican middle class.”De la Torre’s son, Francisco Jr., was 11 years old then. Today, he’s the consul general of Mexico in Dallas. Tuesday’s magnitude 7.1 earthquake in Mexico City came 32 years to the day after the 1985 catastrophe, bringing a torrent of painful memories.It opened an old “permanent scar” in me, he said. “I’m from Mexico City, and this happened on the anniversary. Yeah, this is very personal, emotional.”Social media didn’t exist in 1985, but the signs of solidarity and heroic efforts and pledges of aid from nations worldwide was tremendous, he said. Pledges of aid poured in from nations abroad, including the U.S., which largely provided hardware and rescue experts, plus cash donations.Similarly, de la Torre said he’s been overwhelmed by signs of solidarity since Tuesday’s quake — through emails, text messages and social media.The Mexican government said Wednesday that it’s assessing its needs and will coordinate relief efforts largely through its consulate offices worldwide. In Dallas, Mayor Mike Rawlings said he spoke to de la Torre on Tuesday and pledged to help in any way possible.“He asked if we have first responders, and we do,” Rawlings said. “We will be glad to help Mexico.”Rawlings said the request was informal and that the city is awaiting an official request through the State Department.Gov. Greg Abbott made the same commitment of help on Tuesday.“The thoughts and prayers of Texans are with the people of Mexico following another devastating earthquake,” Abbott said. “Mexico has been challenged by several natural disasters over the last few weeks, and our hearts are heavy for those lost and impacted by these tragedies. The state of Texas will continue to offer any support to aid Mexico in their time of need.”At least 225 people have been reported killed throughout central Mexico, according to the latest government reports. But the number was constantly changing. Nearly 100 people were confirmed dead in Mexico City, officials said. Many people are missing.In one neighborhood, rescuers were digging out people buried under rubble, including children trapped beneath their school. More than 20 children were believed to have been killed at the site.  Continue reading...

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