How did major disasters caused by ineffective public policies affect the relationship between the state, the market and civil society?

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Hertie School of Governance
U1-Understanding Governance in a Globalized World

How did major disasters caused by ineffective public policies affect the relationship between the
State, the market and civil society?
Written by EJJOL

“I always tried to turn every disaster into an opportunity.”
-John D. Rockefeller 

IntroductionThroughout the centuries, mankind had made front to major disasters many of which have a natural origin. Nevertheless, currently many of these major disasters that occur in modern societies are also caused or magnified by humans, tending to be more destructive and traumatic with wider implications rather than exclusively environmental, due the complexity of social organization and human interactions.Thus, how a major disaster can affect the relationship between the State, the market and the civil society?
Hence, this essay would try to answer the question addressed above, using as a case of study the earthquake that hit Mexico City in 1985, one of the most destructive events that the Mexican nation had experience in the recent decades. In order to do an analysis of this particular situation,this paper will start describing the variables and conditions that had combined and were determinants for the dimension of the tragedy and leaded to certain consequences in the social and the economical spheres, outcomes that will be described as well. This essay will end trying to wrap up a rational explanation and a personal opinion about the main effects in the Mexican nation, the politicalscenario and the economy.

The perfect recipe for a disaster
September 19th, 1985 at 7:19 am, an earthquake of 8.1 degrees Richter scale, shocked the southwest shoreline of México hitting every town, community and city in the 500 km surroundings of the epicenter. Nevertheless, the most affected of all was Mexico City, at that time -and currently- one of the most populated cities around the worldwith almost 19 million inhabitants. This was neither the first earthquake that strikes the City nor the last one, but without a doubt had been the most devastating in the modern history of this country.
México was during the early eighties one of the countries with the fastest –but not sustained and weak– economic development in the third world, and a Latin-American leader in the diplomacy andinternational scenario in the region, but also at the same time, was a country govern by a single party (PRI: Institutional Revolutionary Party) for the last 60 years, with no democratic institutions, almost no organized civil society and a frail opposition.
For the reasons above and for many others, the political scenario of Mexico and the govern institutions –like the presidential– werepaternalistic, discretional and corrupt with almost no transparency and accountability to society nor anyone else. The power structures were centralized, and any needed type of decision, could only be taken at the time by the highest authorities, therefore a rigid hierarchical structure domain the government institutions.
During the two minutes that the earthquake hit Mexico City, the buildings and housesthat were approved through corruption by the authorities for urban developing, and the infrastructure built without meeting the minimum safety requirements –to keep low costs and high profits in order to pay to corrupt officials and privates–, felt down one by one. Hospitals, governmental offices, subway stations, schools and buildings of social interest were among the most affected; taking inaccount that all were part of the public sector. Definitely something was rotted.

The emerge of organized civil society in México
The first hours after the earthquake hit México City were devastating, approximately 400 buildings were destroyed and 30 thousand houses were affected, burying thousands of persons. The remaining hospitals standing gorged themselves in hours, and the telephone...