How Mexico’s legal guidelines nonetheless fail to cowl residents in public infrastructure disasters

With its class action lawsuit against the government of Mexico City, the civil organization ONRE seeks to close the existing gaps between current standards for death compensation and punitive damages and to increase what it sees as a fair solution for those affected by May 3 Span collapse on Line No. 12 of the capital’s metro system.

In this second part of a two-part Q&A, BNamericas spoke to ONRE President Jesús Alberto Guerrero Rojas to ask what measures are appropriate for this and future incidents and where laws and other regulations need to be on the political agenda of the accident – actions that could affect public works projects in the coming years.

BNamericas: How do existing city, state, and / or state policies, laws, and regulations lag behind?

Guerrero: The problem in Mexico is always there, lies beneath the surface where there are laws, however [for example] the administration manual for the maintenance of the [Mexico City] Subway, the rules are never really fully applied. [The rule book] more than 2,000 pages, which is sufficient but not used.

BNamericas: Does Mexico need new legislation to update safety standards to protect public users of city traffic, highways, bridges, etc.?

Guerrero: What is really needed is a new kind of governance that has had this aggressive stance towards the victims of similar events at all levels of government and with every party: the [2013] Explosion of the Pemex [state oil company] B-2 building, Tlahuelilpan [a gasoline line explosion in 2019], etc.

BNamericas: What are the key issues in the current Mexican legal environment with a sound approach to civil responsibility and liability to individuals?

Guerrero: The most pressing problem is to get rid of corruption and avoid cutting the cost of problems that could affect the population.

BNamericas: How can laws and / or regulations be improved?

Guerrero: Only with the will of the government, and one of the measures taken to repair the damage caused by this claim, is to obtain a guarantee that the [kind of accident with the metro] will not be repeated if a judge can order a change in the law or regulation [needed] to prevent this.

BNamericas: What about compensation beyond funeral and medical expenses, which appears to be the status quo, including punitive damages, long-term disability, rehabilitation, mental harm, etc.?

Guerrero: Since Mexico is already part of the Organization of American States and the legislation and jurisprudence already exists, we should think that this should be enough [to have all these integrated].

The problem really arises when these events take place in Mexico and companies place the desire to save money over the rights of the most vulnerable, those most affected [by such disasters]where they avoid at all costs compensating victims in accordance with nationally and nationally applicable standards [international] Conventions.

BNamericas: Are there also weaknesses in terms of oversight and transparency to ensure organizations are meeting maintenance requirements?

Guerrero: Of course … in Mexico they say that transparency is respected, but nothing is further from the truth.

BNamericas: Can you give me a hypothetical scenario where the authorities decide to do the right thing in this case?

Guerrero: The most sensible, sensible and honest thing that would not have cost the government anything is to order that the insurance institution apply insured amounts directly to the victims, that a civil association or impartial body advise victims on issues of adequate medical care and funeral expenses, psychological treatment, and the amount of compensation per person and to the [affected] Family unit.

However, as we know, the government made this treaty directly [without an open bidding process]. We already sense that there was marriage [of mutual interests] between [insured] Companies and the insurer that serve the interests of the insurer.

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