OPINION

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum. Photo: Flickr

By KELIN DILLON

Just days after a lethal crash on Mexico’s Line 3 metro route left one dead and more than 106 individuals injured, fallout from the public transportation incident has thrust Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and the city’s Metro Collective Transportation System (STC) squarely into the spotlight once more as the duo attempts to navigate the capital’s fourth deadly metro accident since Sheinbaum initially assumed office in 2018.

According to STC General Director Guillermo Calderón, Saturday’s incident was seemingly avoidable considering an official signaling report had been filed just one day prior that required trains transiting across the La Raza-Potrero section of the route to implement a low-speed protocol; however, as Saturday’s lethal events came to prove, the filed reports and newly implemented speed restrictions were not effective enough to keep the Mexico City Metro’s travelers out of harm’s way.

Sheinbaum in particular has come under fire for the resulting Line 3 crash, as the Mexico City mayor has repeatedly and publicly expressed the need for modernization across sections of Line 3 – including comments made as recently as Dec. 19, less than a month before the Jan. 7 accident – especially following the fallout of Line 12’s still-unresolved lethal crash from May 2021, which left 26 dead and hundreds injured.

“Sometimes it has bigger problems, it has to do with the age of the line itself,” Sheinbaum said about Line 3, which was originally constructed in 1970, last December.

While the Mexico City Prosecutor’s Office’s has since opened an investigation to determine the exact cause of the Jan. 7 accident, the Mexico City government has been aware of Line 3’s internal faults for years. The STC’s 2018-2030 Metro Master Plan detailed numerous issues with Line 3’s existing infrastructure, including ground faults surrounding the tracks and affecting its power cables, ballast losses and line fractures, and structural damage and deformations across the route’s northern section and its infrastructure.

The Potrero station of Line 3, the very section where Saturday’s crash occurred, was likewise named by the report as a section in clear need of repairs.

“The differential movements of the ground have been reflected longitudinally in the behavior of the platform level in the Potrero Stations, of the Deportivo 18 de Marzo and Indios Verdes foundations; as well as transverse fractures in the stations,” read the 2018-2030 Metro Master Plan, which was released in 2018.

With Line 3’s desperate need for a renovation clearly made evident to both the government and Sheinbaum before Saturday’s incident occurred, all eyes are now on Sheinbaum – who is presently campaigning to take over executive office from current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) in 2024 – to see how the Mexico City mayor handles the crash’s aftermath in the weeks ahead.

Political opponents of Sheinbaum and López Obrador’s leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) have not been shy about placing the blame squarely on her shoulders, with the leader of the conservative National Action Party’s (PAN) Mexico City branch Andrés Atayde publicly admonishing the “pattern” of underlying metro repair and the subsequent resulting STC accidents that have occurred underneath the Sheinbaum administration.

“We will be attentive to the agility with which the Prosecutor’s Office resolves the situation. Hopefully it will be the same agility with which cases that are invented for us as opposition are resolved,” said Atayde. “Given the complaint presented today, what we demand of this Prosecutor’s Office is one very simple thing: that it not be a cover for anyone from Morena, since we are increasingly more certain that these tragedies, those that cause deaths and injuries, have a clear responsibility: it is Morena and #EsClaudia.”

Other local Mexico City leaders joined in on calling out Sheinbaum, including a request from Cuauhtémoc Mayor Sandra Cuevas for Sheinbaum to “stop playing the victim” and a public condemnation from Álvaro Obregón Mayor Lía Limón against the Sheinbaum government’s continued defunding of the STC.

“Yes, there is a punishment to the metro budget and the reason has never been explained knowing the needs that it has,” said Limón at the time. “The reason is negligence, negligence that kills.”

Meanwhile, Senator Xóchitl Gálvez urged the Mexican government to “stop wasting money” on expensive and controversial projects like the Tren Maya and the Dos Bocas refinery, instead encouraging them to funnel the same financial resources into the upkeep of the metro system. 

AMLO came to Sheinbaum’s defense during his daily morning press conference on Monday, Jan. 9, claiming the “vultures are circling” around the Mexico City mayor in the wake of Saturday’s tragic accident.

As the Mexico City Prosecutor’s Office continues with its investigation into the crash, it remains to be seen if Sheinbaum – or anyone at all – will be ultimately be held responsible for Saturday’s deadly Line 3 incident.

2 Comments

  1. She called in the national guard to the stations after this safety incident.
    This wasn’t even remotely a security failure!

    What a sick joke, I feel awful for the victims and their families seeing this ridiculous smoke screen put up.

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