I told the Mexican employees they could return home, if they thought it was necessary. Responses from the Mexican community and foreign governments came swiftly. Of course, he wasn’t there that first night, and was reporting the disaster based on pictures from a few neighborhoods. Quakes, most of them minor, and none as strong as the one in 1985, remained a constant feature of life in Mexico City. I remember we let every American, tourist or resident, come to the Embassy and write a one-page telegram. You could see the appreciation of the families of these children as they went to the airport to welcome their children back…. One of the things that was most important were inflatable bladders for water. Most of these people interacted with Mexican lower level government officials and with the Mexican population. The quake ruptured the San Andreas fault to the north and south of the city, for a total of 296 miles, and ...read more, On October 17, 1989, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay Area, killing 67 people and causing more than $5 billion in damages. 5,000–45,000 dead 30,000 injured The 1985 Mexico City Earthquakewas an earthquakethat happened in Mexico Cityon September 19, 1985. She is not going to be able to put back a building or dig out civilians or something like that. I went back inside the Embassy and upstairs to my fourth floor office after the twenty minutes like I had planned. Then we went to the embassy and she gave a speech. Of course, both of those facts, and they probably were facts, that he announced, were things that the Mexican government didn’t want to hear. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Problems were compounded because the Government disaster relief office was destroyed and several of the largest hospitals collapsed during the first day, including the Juarez General Hospital where I went with the Ambassador three days later while they were still rescuing survivors, although each hour the number of corpses rose and survivors dropped. Western Mexico is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes with the Pacific plate and Cocos plate moving against the North American plate actively. Between Mexico City and the epicenter 250 miles to the southwest lie the Sierra Madre mountains dotted with remote towns. I think I mentioned his mother’s family had settled in California before California became a state. They pulled a few survivors out of the rubble, but mostly these buildings just came right down. Stanley Zuckerman was a Counselor for Public Affairs for Mexico City from 1978 to 1983; he was interviewed by Kennedy beginning July 2004. What could one do to stop the quakes? One of the first things that he did, he was very concerned and he was very interested and he wanted to make sure that appropriate assistance came from the United States. His mother was born in Mexico, in Sonora. There was a huge controversy. Mission Mandate: To airlift aid to Mexico City after a major earthquake. And that a lot of that probably had to do with corruption, that maybe it was paid for that there should be 50 bags of sand and cement or whatever it was, but 15 bags went in, because it was more expensive to build things to code. Earthquakes are worse in mountains which of vibrate more than flat land. They were perturbed at the Ambassador’s estimate for some reason, but I am convinced the real total was closer to his estimate. Q: Well, then, if Gavin would make these statements, like obviously there was a problem of corruption which led to deaths, could the media mention that? COWAL:  I think the most controversial thing that he [Ambassador Gavin] did, at least in my time there, happened just before I arrived. On the other position. I don’t think I succeeded and he had to go to the Foreign Secretary, and finally to President de la Madrid. In the aftermath of the 1985 earthquake, an early-alert earthquake warning system was established in Mexico City and other safety measures were enacted. He was a cousin of one of the leading writers of Mexico, Carlos Fuentes, who he called Charlie Fountain. He had a tendency shared by almost all politically appointed ambassadors, including [Patrick] Lucey at times, to sometimes speak out on Mexican affairs as if they were presidents of Mexico rather than ambassadors to the country. Problems became serious I think, for Gavin, in 1985, after the great earthquake in Mexico City, at a time that I was already in Ottawa. The quake was caused by the sudden rupture of a previously undocumented blind thrust fault. This is a city and urban area of 20 million people in the valley, of which seven or eight million people were directly affected by the loss of services; the loss of electricity, water, sewage facilities, all of which began to cause disease problems. Mexico’s president, Miguel de la Madrid (1934-2012), was criticized for his government’s weak response to the disaster. He may have been right, but being right was not necessarily the objective of diplomacy. The oil boom was on. It was the only time no one paid much attention to the American Ambassador. Yes, it was not the Soviet Union. On Sept. 19, 1985, an earthquake registering 8.1 on the Richter scale struck Mexico City. The momentum carried me; there were things that had to be done. The 1985 Mexico City earthquake: an excerpt from “Shooter” ... They’d built a lot of the new buildings in Mexico City, with the elevator in the center of the building to form a steel core like the rods in reinforced concrete. Once there, the earthquake tremors caused the sediment layers to oscillate. I asked them to please alert all of our families that we were okay, because phone communications from Mexico City would be problematic. It was a Foreign Service Officer who had to load these sacks and take an airplane at night. Most of Alaska’s mainland felt the magnitude 9.2 earthquake, which wobbled Seattle’s Space Needle some 1,200 miles ...read more, Mexico City, Mexico’s largest city and the most populous metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere, is also known as Distrito Federal, or the federal district. A study in contrasts in american history study 1985 earthquake mexico city case. They would sometimes report his criticisms, but you would sort of lose the train of it before you got done. One threatened to jump off the balcony because of some issue. The airport runways were thought to be damaged on the first day. The 1985 Mexico City Earthquake. It turned out I was in charge of the Embassy. Soup kitchens were set up by the people to keep the diggers working. I then assured the American staff, all of whom had come to work, that their families were being informed and we shouldn’t be tying up the few Embassy lines that might still be operative. At around 7:19 a.m. on September 19, 1985, Mexico City, one of the world’s largest urban areas, was jolted by a magnitude 8.1 earthquake, one of the strongest to ever hit the area. During this second period of mine in Mexico, 1985-1986, Mexico City was still peaceful. Its epicenter was about 55 km (34 mi) south of the city of Puebla.The earthquake caused damage in the Mexican states of Puebla and Morelos and in the Greater Mexico City area, including the collapse of … It had a magnitude of 8.1, and the number of people killed added up to 10,000 deaths. (The disaster exposed the fact that government corruption had allowed for lax enforcement of building codes.) I think we actually got out in several places. ©Copyright 1998-2021 Association for Diplomatic Studies & Training As Mexico City is situated on an ancient lakebed plateau … Despite the fact that the disaster was one of the most powerful and destructive quakes ever to hit a populated area of the United States, ...read more, The 1964 Alaska earthquake, the strongest earthquake ever recorded in North America, struck Alaska’s Prince William Sound, about 74 miles southeast of Anchorage. Ultimately, most of the exchanges were badly damaged or destroyed. We had to put thousands of telegrams in a huge sack and have them carried to Laredo to be sent out from there. There was one very frightening sight at Plaza de Tlateloco in Mexico City, where a large high-rise apartment building, probably a 15-story building, had just collapsed into a pile of bricks. A lot of countries don’t plan for earthquakes. So they wouldn’t just report the facts and then put their editorial opinion on the editorial page, saying he shouldn’t have spoken this way or he didn’t have the facts corrected, it would all be interwoven in the same story. Kramer, a. On September 21, 1999, an earthquake in Taiwan killed more than 2,400 people, destroyed or damaged thousands of buildings and left an estimated 100,000 people homeless. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Government or of ADST. Within the next couple hours, we made sure the local Mexican staff was ok. Though the epicenter for the 1985 earthquake was over 200 miles away from Mexico City, the disaster nearly flattened the capital. We couldn’t allow too much more detail because of the difficulty of transmission and the number of telegrams, and then we couldn’t send them by the regular cable system because it was down. AID sent many of them because it was in charge of our disaster relief at that time. I really caught hell for that from the staff later because the Department neglected to tell anyone or inform our families. The number of Mexicans who perished is still controversial and probably will never be known for certain. The quake was centered off the Pacific coast of Michoacán, more than 200 miles west of Mexico City, the nation’s capital. The building shook like hell. The next day there were a number of lesser quakes, the strongest of which measured 7.8. She didn’t mingle with people in the way the Bushes did typically on their airplane. The president was saying that they had lost 10,000 people, and Gavin made a public statement that there were 20,000 or more who had died. To this day, the Mexicans say it was less than 20,000. So I was in the Embassy the next night at 6 or 7 o’clock when the major aftershock came. Some people said later that I was too calm and didn’t appear very sympathetic. Gavin felt that sometimes you had to deal publicly with them…. He was interviewed by Charles Stuart Kennedy starting in March 1998. It turned out later that one of his close friends, Placido Domingo, lost some of his family in a collapse of a twenty-five story building. It was all got up in a few days as you might imagine right after the earthquake. On September 19, 1985, at 7:18 in the morning, the residents of Mexico City were jolted awake by an 8.1-magnitude earthquake, one of the strongest to ever hit the area. He sometimes felt that you had to talk tough to Mexicans…. Some of these buildings were ready to fall down and they were dangerous. I let it shake (what else could I do?) Mexicans spooked by earthquake on anniversary of 1985 quake Mexico: Earthquake rocked Mexico City on Tuesday by a magnitude 7.1 quake which killed at least 100 people in the capital and 230 nationwide, 32 years to the day after another deadly temblor hit the city. Mexico certainly did not plan for earthquakes…. They also strengthened one corner of the building. As far as we knew, no staff person’s home or structure collapsed and no staff person was hurt badly. Gavin, who is very compassionate about these things, really felt the tragedy. I was in the Embassy in my office at 7:30 in the morning. These was a great crowd of people milling around. In response, citizens organized their own rescue brigades. What you like fries and coke determine their prices. But for the most part, American government officials acted with great courage. The most vivid memories of that night were of the Mexican people digging frantically in the piles of rubble, with no lights, no electricity, and no help from the government. Partly because of inadequate building codes, the … By comparison, Denver, Colorado, nicknamed the Mile High City, is 5,280 feet above sea level. This is the address to send it to. Actually, that earthquake, and I think perhaps Gavin’s taking a very out-front role and really expressing the damage and so on, the follow up to that by the Mexican citizenry I think really led in some interesting and strange way to the ultimate defeat of the PRI several years later. I am so-and-so and I’m ok. The first implosions were the biggest event of the week. In 1985, Mexico City was the world’s largest urban area. Finally, after some trying, some genius in our Communications section patched me through to Washington through Louisiana, and Atlanta. The Marine guards of course were there. The 1985 Mexico City Earthquake was an earthquake that happened in Mexico City on September 19, 1985. Earthquake shakes Mexico City On September 19, 1985, a powerful earthquake strikes Mexico City and leaves 10,000 people dead, 30,000 injured and thousands more homeless. The deaths were so numerous that they had to use the baseball stadium as an outdoor morgue. But then they reached the sandy loam of the lake bed underneath the center of Mexico City. But we did worry that it wouldn’t go right and we’d kill some Mexicans standing and gawking. The water system was destroyed in much of the city. It was my job. A DEA official and a Foreign Service Officer happened to be downtown in a hotel for a breakfast meeting when the quake struck. I went onto the roof and I could see buildings collapsed within two or three blocks. We landed in Mexico and went through this program which involved going to Los Pinos, giving the check, having a little talk with de la Madrid, and going around touring a number of sites. Most of the damage was focused on the historic downtown area of Cuauhtémoc. But early that morning, some lines were still open. Ambassador Gavin was on his way to Europe on vacation and Deputy Chief of Mission [DCM] Morris Busby was in Northern Mexico on fisheries negotiations. I also remember some cases where overwork and exhaustion caused Embassy people to almost crack. Some people found it a difficult place to live then, and in certain aspects —  traffic, noise, congestion, smog — it was. Mexico's president was Miguel de la Madrid, champion of a failed "moral renewal" campaign, and the city's mayor was Ramón Aguirre Velázquez, a man close to the president and a candidate to succeed him. Research a process analysis for errors in causal analysis is however the magnitude and type of strategy is required. Elliot Abrams went from the State Department, I went from the NSC, Jim Rosebush was then Nancy Reagan’s Chief of Staff and Elaine Crispin was the First Lady’s press secretary. They were busy digging; it was dark. On the morning of September 19, 1985, an 8.1-magnitude earthquake hit the western states of Mexico and including Mexico City. The Embassy had a telephone network, in which everyone calls everyone else in a certain order. Nancy Reagan’s trip was I think her first foray into a foreign policy role. They weren’t evidently hostile but something could have happened to her in such a large crowd. Heavy machinery, medical supplies, and excavation equipment descended into the city to help with rescue efforts. Mexico City Earthquake: September 19, 1985, 1985 Mexico City Earthquake: Slow Government Response. The digging went on amid continuing screams from within the fallen buildings. I remember many stories about heroism during those next few days. The Mexicans were profoundly dilatory about taking us up on our offers of help, and she wasn’t going to solve that problem. An apartment building destroyed by an earthquake that struck Mexico City in 1985. The Secret Service had great difficulty with the Mexican authorities maintaining any kind of crowd control around her. There was no time for an advance visit or anything. We just sent advance teams directly to Mexico to get this set up on about 48-hour’s notice and coordinated with the embassy to work out a schedule which mainly involved the First Lady arriving, going to Los Pinos, meeting with de la Madrid, giving him the check, touring some sites of devastation around the city, meeting with the embassy staff and saying some words with them and then flying on to California. It was autumn, September. So a lot of what we did in USIS, we would also sponsor seminars for journalists and so on. He and Connie Gavin did a tremendous amount of fund-raising and charity work then and later in helping the victims…. It was 30 years ago today that at least 5,000 people — some estimates put the number at closer to 10,000, others at four times that — died in the powerful Mexico City earthquake of 1985. The earthquake lasted around three minutes causing older buildings and poorly constructed infrastructure to fall. It had a magnitudeof 8.1, and the number of people killed added up to 10,000 deaths. Excélsior would probably have 30 stories on the front page. The city has ...read more, From the stone cities of the Maya to the might of the Aztecs, from its conquest by Spain to its rise as a modern nation, Mexico boasts a rich history and cultural heritage spanning more than 10,000 years. That was maybe for the first time really since the Aztecs, a questioning of the central authority and of the power structure, by individuals and by groups of nongovernmental organizations, civil society, that really began to emerge. From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The 1985 Mexico City Earthquake was an earthquake that happened in Mexico City on September 19, 1985. We had the Marines Residence, the Military Cemetery, the Defense Attaché’s Office, our military people at the Mexican Defense University. That took some doing because I couldn’t get through readily. To get a better idea about the high stakes treatment. But, people said I calmly addressed the group, telling them what had happened as best we could determine. Robert S. Pastorino describes the disaster and the embassy’s response to it. https://www.history.com/topics/natural-disasters-and-environment/1985-mexico-city-earthquake. There was also not much of a line between editorial opinion of the newspaper and the reporting on the news. Fortunately, the quake was early enough in the morning that people weren’t yet in their offices. Then I took Gavin through some of these neighborhoods. It was something she very much wanted to do. We convinced him not to; another small task accomplished. That was due to a tremendous effort on part of Embassy people to coordinate the activity, efforts which of course were invisible to the outside…. 2017 Puebla earthquake; Images for kids And we began to prepare cables about the situation. Making matters worse, on the evening of September 20, a magnitude 7.5 aftershock shook the region. ZUCKERMAN:  It was again a period when a chargé ran the Embassy, and John Ferch had gone on to Cuba as head of our mission there and later became our Ambassador in Honduras, and there was a rather long gap before John Gavin, Reagan’s appointee as Ambassador, was confirmed and arrived on the job. The Ambassador was to get on a plane that morning in Washington to go to Europe on his home leave. “Here come the Americans to blow up our Mexican buildings.” Would it work? The result: The earthquake was amplified in strength. I had the great honor to cut the ribbon at one project where I went with Henry Cisneros and Bob Krueger because San Antonio, where Cisneros was the Mayor, donated the money to rebuild a school. On September 19, 1985, the Mexico City area was struck by a devastating earthquake that killed at least 9,500 people. So they would have everything on the front page with about three lines of type, and then every story would continue in a different part of the paper. Ambassador to Mexico, John Gavin, observing the resulting damage of the earthquake. I remember doing up the format. I cannot believe that the government actually impeded the rescue efforts that brave civilians had begun. Financially, we had already offered the Mexicans a variety of technical assistance from sniffer dogs to special jacks and engineering gear to try to rescue people from collapsed buildings. That continued for five years. Of a population of 18 million, an estimated 10,000 people were killed, and 50,000 were injured. That quickly spread from earthquake-related things to environmentally related things, the fact that Mexico City was such a polluted city. Officials say at … The death toll, a number which is disputed, is most often cited to be 10,000 people, but many agree that the number could be as high as 40,000. We had to worry about the American School, the American Hospital, and other American institutions. What was especially needed was machinery to cut through the concrete reinforcing rods, oxygen, the sniffer dogs to search for survivors, tents, heavy machinery to move some of the rubble, lighting systems, and communications gear. In fact, some of the neighborhoods close to it were badly damaged. As for me, I was frequently told that I remained fairly calm the whole time. You had one sentence. Mexico City Earthquake, 1985. I remember there was a big deal when we brought down to Mexican City an American company to implode buildings. The First Lady’s motorcade pulled up and it looked actually very frightening. 1985-09-19 13:17:47 UTC 8.0 magnitude, 27 km depth Arteaga, Michoacán, Mexico 8.0 magnitude earthquake 1985-09-19 13:17:47 UTC at 13:17 September 19, 1985 UTC We got on an Air Force I airplane. Most of them came in to the Embassy to work. I took the stairs down to the lobby, and went across the street to the Sheraton Hotel. I didn’t notice any great panic and couldn’t see any damaged buildings on that block. We had to take care of them. We weren’t even sure they would be able to be sent the first couple of days. She is not going to be able to do anything material. He got the military to get him a helicopter, and he wanted to personally survey the damage in Mexico City, not without reason, again. I think that on the second day shipments were already beginning to come in from the States. I think however, once he came down, although he did have some difficulties later on, he did impress a good deal of Mexican society with his superb knowledge of Spanish. At any rate, he counted the number of buildings down and he made two observations to the press as he got off the helicopter. That one wiped out much of the remaining communications and then collapsed many buildings that had been severely damaged the day before. Of course, the Mexicans refused to accept his figure. Sally Grooms Cowal Otherwise I think it would have been much greater, because a lot of people were still out of the city or in small buildings and so on, not in these huge office towers. (You can also read Ambassador Prudence Bushnell’s experience with “disaster tourists” after the Embassy Nairobi bombing. I was quickly told that this was probably going to happen so it’s not a question of whether it is desirable or not, it is a question of making it happen. The ...read more, On October 8, 2005, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake shook the Kashmir region (a disputed territory controlled in part by Pakistan and India), along with sections of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. Even if it had not been destroyed, it didn’t have much equipment and expertise. Ambassador Gavin was taken up in a helicopter the day after the quake to survey the damage in order to get a sense of the assistance that would be needed. I got on the phone about 10:00 a.m., when we found out everyone was okay, and tried to call Washington and tell the State Department that the American and Mexican Embassy personnel were unharmed. It had a magnitude of 8.1, and the number of people killed added up to 10,000 deaths. One is of two American Embassy officials who attempted to save lives of people caught in downed buildings. More than 400 buildings collapsed and thousands more were damaged. I remember helping develop a security plan of where to put the police lines to keep the people an appropriate distance away. Many worked most of the first 72 hours straight, either in the Embassy or outside. So, it may be that people to people relations were actually improved…, Ambassador G. Philip Hughes I really got my appreciation for the damage at 11 o’clock that night. Minister Counselor for Public Affairs in Mexico City from 1985 to 1989. To this day, Embassy people remember that event and the talk I gave.