By now most of you have heard that last Sunday, on Easter Sunday, Mexicali Baja California, México suffered a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. It hit at 3:40 pm, lasted about 45 seconds, and scared the hell out of all the Cachanillas (mexicalenses) and Cachanilla “ex-pats” living abroad like yours truly. Miraculously, because I don’t know how else you can describe it, there were only 2 deaths. There is a lot of damage to the city and the surrounding valleys, especially to roads and older buildings, but there is nothing catastrophic like Haiti before it (7.1) and Chile (8.8). Mexicali tuvo mucha suerte. It was a lazy Sunday, families were together celebrating Easter and there was still plenty of daylight.
Call it Luck or Grace of God, what is surprising is how LITTLE we’ve heard about it in Mexican newscasts, like Televisa or TV Azteca. I heard about it on Sunday from the New York Times alerts, turned on CNN in Atlanta and they were covering it, and even my local channels in LA had reporters on the scene the very night. NPR sent their best reporter, Mandalit del Barco, who was already across the border by Monday morning reporting live for the east coast. What was Televisa showing on Sunday night? A soccer match, el “Clasico” del America vs. Chivas. No commercial interruptions. What did TV Azteca have on? A lame reality show de puros nacos who want to be famous.
I ask you, Mexican media moguls, Emilio Azcárraga Jean and Ricardo Salinas Pliego, How can you live with yourself knowing that the single most important event in Baja California’s history went by unnoticed? The earthquake got a mention of 5 seconds, 10 seconds at the most in your nightly news, overshadowed by a novela like crime mystery of a 4 year old that had already been in the news all weekend. According to the LA Times, 20 MILLION people felt this jolt of the earth. Is this not more important than your regular programming? Your answer is very clear. If it doesn’t happen in central Mexico, then it doesn’t count. Shame on you!
People in Mexicali are upset by the lack of coverage. Help has been slow to arrive to the valleys and the Ejidos where the epicenter ocurred. They are in dire straits and yet it is going unnoticed in the media outside California. On the other hand, los mexicalenses son gente unida, trabajadora y aguantadora. They’re tough! They take 120 degree heat for most of the year and many earthquakes year round, so they will survive and pull through.
I am very proud of my hometown and my family and friends. Even in the midst of all the nervousness and unimaginable stress, they keept the calm and carried on. They got to cleaning immediately, back to work the next day and are withstanding aftershock tras aftershock, already 600 to date. Can you imagine this and still keep a sense of humor? Somebody on facebook even formed a group called: “Yo quiero mi ‘We Are The World, Mexicali“…so you know we can take a joke. If only mother nature didn’t joke around so much, we’d be laughing more. As my dear Mom, who is always calm and collected, said when I finally spoke to her, “I thought this was IT, for a few seconds I thought this was the end of the world.”
Luckily we live to see another aftershock.
Which also brings this to mind: Let’s be ready. It can happen anywhere and it is happening everywhere. Today it was Indonesia’s turn at 7.8. The earth is living and moving underneath us. Might as well have a plan and plenty of water. Time to dust off the infamous earthquake kit. Y que Dios guarde la hora.
Animo Mexicali!!! Eres el orgullo del pais y por fin ya todo el mundo te ubica en el mapa.