By KELIN DILLON
In the one year following the May 3, 2021, tragic Line 12 metro accident in Mexico City that killed 26 passengers, few steps have been taken to ensure the preventable accident does not happen again, nor that its victims are taken care of.
The collapsed portion’s reconstruction is still lagging on, Mexico City has avoided civil litigation and criminal trials by handing out payouts, and, perhaps most importantly, no one has been criminally prosecuted for their role in the metro infrastructure’s complete failure.
Despite numerous companies and Mexican politicians found to be at fault for the crash – including Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard, members of Ebrard’s administration during his tenure as Mexico City mayor, and the enterprise behind Line 12’s construction, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s construction company Grupo Carso – by third-party investigators, none of the implicated parties have had to face any jail time¿ or pay any restitutionary damages to the families of the 26 people who lost their lives, nor to the 100-plus other passengers who were injured during the accident.
While 10 former public servants and company representatives are indeed facing criminal proceedings for their respective roles in the crash, some of the officials’ lawyer claims that their cases are only being used for political purposes, while those actually instrumental in the tragedy’s occurrence, like forme Metro Director Florencia Serranía, are left with impunity.
“In Mexico City, the jurisdiction of friendship continues for Serranía, who remains unpunished and who has never been summoned to testify before the prosecution. She has not been touched even with the petal of a rose,” said lawyer Gabriel Regino, who represents five of the 10 accused parties and has claimed Mexico City’s prosecutor’s office refuses to let his clients settle rather than head to criminal proceedings. “We are not going to allow any criminal proceedings without the involvement of those truly responsible, including Florencia Serranía.”
Beyond the courtroom, the actual location of Line 12’s crash – Tláhuac Avenue by Olivos station – has remained altogether unchanged since last May’s tragedy. While most of the debris may have been removed, a massive hole still remains in the unusable overground track, acting as a grim reminder of those who lost their lives on that fateful day to the surrounding community.
“When I go through there I relive the moment. All the bad memories come to me. I feel angry and at the same time sad for everything we’ve been through,” one survivor of the fatal crash told Mexican daily newspaper El Financiero.
Though 90 percent of those affected by the crash have already accepted settlements from the city, another 10 percent continue their legal battle for proper compensation.
“You don’t play with lives. A life cannot be worth 650,000 pesos if you remain crippled for life, nor can it be worth 150,000 pesos. We are not going to allow that,” said the victims’ lawyer Teófilo Benítez.
One victim, whose residual symptoms from the accident are still continuing to reveal themselves, claims she was offered 2,000 pesos a month in compensation for her afflictions – a monthly sum near-unlivable in Mexico City, particularly with someone saddled with mounting medical bills, and a common issue as many victims of the accident find more crash-related health concerns appearing over time.
“I would tell (Mexico City Governor) Claudia Sheinbaum not to hang a medal on herself for having achieved something she has not done, because she has not turned to see the victims,” revealed another victim of the May 3 collapse. “She never approached us. She never sent us a condolence letter. She never gave us hospital care. For me, at least, she denied me a 100 percent review. She told me that I had to pay for my medicines. The head of the capital government never had the compassion to receive us. I would ask her to be more human.”
According to other victims, the Mexico City government has failed to assist them with medications, medical bills or acquiring doctors, instead letting them fall mercy to their ailments after they waived their rights to criminal prosecution by accepting the government’s payout. With many victims now plagued with psychological trauma from the accident and needing consistent care for both their mental and physical rehabilitation, it seems now is the time more than ever for the Mexico City government to interfere and help its citizens’ wellbeing – especially considering expert’s agreement that the crash could’ve been easily prevented in the first place.