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Mexico: One Year Since the Tragedy at Guardería ABC

A year has passed since the tragedy at Guardería ABC, a daycare center in the city of Hermosillo, Sonora. On June 5, 2009 a fire consumed a warehouse next to the daycare; the fire spread out of control, taking the lives of 49 children and leaving more than 70 with respiratory problems and other permanent conditions. President Felipe Calderón has declared [es] June 5 as a national day of mourning, but a year later, the family of the victims are still seeking formal justice.

Mourning the victims of the Guardería ABC. Photo by Darinka. Used following a Creative Commons license. Taken from: http://atomicdarinka.blogspot.com/2010/06/las-luces-que-no-se-extinguen.html

Mourning the victims of the Guardería ABC. Photo by Darinka, taken from photographer's blog and used under a Creative Commons license.

There were several important factors that made the tragedy possible, as newspaper El Universal noted [es]: poor infrastructure of the daycare (the ceiling fell creating a “rain of fire”), problems with availability of the main exits, and lack of employees to carry out an appropriate emergency response (there was one adult for every 8-10 children). The mainstream media has mentioned [es] other security requirements that were violated, such as the lack of fire extinguishers and proper smoke detectors.

Guardería ABC was a subrogated daycare center: their private service was sold to the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS; in English, Mexican Social Security Institute), the governmental organization in charge of health care and social security. The IMSS was responsible for supervising and maintaining quality control of the daycare, as it does with other governmental services.

One year after the event, the Supreme Court of Justice has released a proposal to hold 14 governmental employees responsible [es] for the tragedy; among them, a federal secretary and employees from the presidential staff, as well as the former director of the IMSS (up to 2009), Juan Molinar Horcasitas, and its current director, Daniel Karam. The court will review the proposal after June 14.

However, the parents and family of the victims criticize the inefficiency of the federal government to determine who is responsible and reach out to the families of Guardería ABC. As newspaper Excélsior notes (cached story [es]), only one person was incarcerated, the IMSS area coordinator of the daycare  –and she was freed on bail after six months.

The movement 5 de Junio [es] (Twitter account @cincodejunio), created by the families of the victims, demands justice and compensation, public apologies, as well as medical attention and monetary retribution to the survivors. Several marches in the city of Hermosillo [es] and other Mexican cities (including Mexico City [es], Saltillo, Coahuila [es]) have taken place to remember the victims and to address the authorities regarding the pending justice.

National television news programs have covered [es] the solidarity shown through social networks and citizen media. These messages primarily reflect impotence and sadness over the tragedy, in both explicit and symbolic ways.

User Paty Duarte (@MADREABC [es]) writes on Twitter to her son [es], one of the victims of the tragedy:

Te amo mi plinchipe guapo por ti siempre luchare, tu eres la razon de mi fuerza por seguir a pesar de no tenerte, te amo hasta el cielo.

I love you my handsome prince for you I will always fight, you are the reason of my strenght to go on even though I do not have you, I love you up to heaven.

User @LeoAgusto [es] shares on Twitter [es] a symbolic tribute to the victims, with 49 crosses representing each child:

[†††††] [†††††] [†††††] [†††††] [†††††] [†††††] [†††††] [†††††] [†††††] †††† Un año ya.

[†††††] [†††††] [†††††] [†††††] [†††††] [†††††] [†††††] [†††††] [†††††] †††† A year already.

The anniversary of Guardería ABC has been contrasted to the World Cup because of the attention drawn by the latter. User @carrillazo takes both events humorously [es] as cases of loss:

Tan poco probable que México llegué al sexto partido, como que en el caso de la guardería ABC alguien acabe en el bote. ¿Apuestas?

It is equally unlikely for Mexico to reach the sixth game as anyone to be taken to jail in the case of Guardería ABC. Any bets?

More comments on Twitter can be found by following the hashtag and trending topic #GuarderiaABC [es].

Elizabeth Palacios, journalist and civil rights advocate, considers that the response from the government to declare June 5 as a national day of mourning is not enough [es]:

De que sirve declarar un dia de luto nacional, cuando la impunidad es la unica ganadora en medio de este caso. Recibir a algunos de los padres de las victimas en Los Pinos un anio despues de la tragedia es una respuesta de Estado? La indiferencia del gobierno federal es insultante ante el dolor por el que han tenido que pasar las familias que perdieron a 49 bebes en medio del fuego.

What is the point of declaring a national day of mourning, when impunity is the only winner in the middle of this case. Receiving some of the parents of the victims in [presidential residence] Los Pinos a year after the tragedy is a response from the government? The indifference of the federal government is insulting to the pain that the families have been through after losing 49 babies in the middle of the fire.

A reader of the blog Hazme el chingado favor [es] comments on how other daycares reacted to what happened with Guardería ABC [es] by paying more attention to their infrastructure:

Yo trabajo para una constructora, y recuerdo que cuando sucedio esto de la Guarderia ABC llamaron un chingo de guarderias para queles hcieramos trabajos.
Para que esperarse a que sucedan hechos tan lamentables como lo que sucedio en la guarderia ABC?

I work for a constructor, and I remember that when this event of the Guardería ABC happened a lot of daycares called us to make some projects.
Why would they wait for that such unfortunate events occur like what happened in the Guardería ABC?

Users have also shared their emotive tributes to the victims on YouTube [es].

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