Governments, foundations, and society must work together, declared Carlos Slim Helú in an interview after the earthquakes of 7 and 19 September, which caused severe damage in several states around the country
27 September, 2017. Mexico City.

Interview with Mr. Carlos Slim Helú, after the earthquakes of 7 and 19 September, which caused severe damage in several states of the Mexican Republic.
27 September, 2017. Mexico City.

We all need to work together. We must identify where the problems are and where we can all contribute and work together, united, foundations with foundations, funds with other funds, with the federal government, with local governments, with different government departments. There is a lot of work to be done. We must try to do it with the utmost efficiency, and in many cases the task is not just to rebuild, but to ensure that things are transformed for the better.

It is also evident that within this tragedy, a lot of work must be done and many jobs will be created, new jobs, and much of the investment will lead to the creation of jobs. We must be sure to do things in a cooperative manner, including everyone: state governments, the corresponding government departments, all the foundations involved, and all of the individuals who have reacted with such solidarity, in order to continue working together on rebuilding and transforming the affected locations.

Question: What about transparency of the resources used?

CSH: It is up to all of us to ensure the utmost transparency of the resources used, by means of the greatest accountability. Fortunately, with modern technology it is possible to consult what is being done every day through internet pages that all of us – or most of us – would have, reporting everything that has been done along with costs, etc.

We at the Foundation will seek to produce a monthly report of everything that we do each month, detailing all the expenditure during that period, among other data. Furthermore, this information will be available for consultation at all times, without having to wait until the end of the month. That is our project in the Foundation.

Question: Does the Foundation have a specific amount that it plans to contribute?

CSH: Resources are still pouring in; we are exceeding the forecasts of what we expected this to be. I believe that the amounts will be very important, and that means that we have an obligation to develop a significant work structure in this new reconstruction stage.

Question: How much will that amount be?

CSH: I don't want to venture any figures. The drive will end on 7 October and we expect several hundred million pesos, contributed by what we estimate will be more than 100,000 people.

Question: Will it all go into the trust?

CSH: No. This is a contribution made by the Foundation, with a commitment… Well, in fact many people are making this contribution. Our commitment is that we will contribute five pesos for every peso that they donate, which will give a total of six pesos. Adding one peso contributed by those who make a donation, by the people who are favoring us in this initiative, to the five pesos that we will contribute, we get a total of six pesos. And this money will be used with the utmost transparency and with constant accountability over the internet, as we provide monthly information on what is being done and how the money is being spent.

Question: Will you take part in the trust?

CSH: No. We will take part on the same level as everyone else. The goal here is to do this as well as possible, to achieve not only the best reconstruction, but in some cases to equip places… for example, in the case of schools we will seek to ensure that they have Digital Labs, to make them as modern as possible. In hospitals and health centers, the aim is also to try to make things better, and the same can be said in general of all buildings and facilities.

Question: What message should this experience that we are undergoing and this emergency situation leave for Mexico, and for society in general?

CSH: It has been very important for us to draw on the experience of 1985, in terms of the establishment of stricter building regulations. This means that in new buildings that were erected following the implementation of these regulations we did not see major damage. Obviously, plaster fell off, windows broke, and so on. There are probably some areas of the city – referring specifically to the city – that are more vulnerable because the seismic waves bounce off the rock bed in transition zones. Now we have to review whether these regulations need to be amended.

The practice for many years was that old buildings were also reconditioned to comply with modern norms. In a sense, I believe that this is what should be done now.

Question: What about social participation?

CSH: Social participation and the way in which society as a whole reacted have been extraordinary. I believe that all of us living in the areas where this seismic phenomenon took place felt it, which probably led us to act with even greater solidarity. We felt the problem in the flesh, and the reaction of the entire population, both residents of the capital in Mexico City and people from throughout the Republic – and even from abroad – has been very, very positive, with an outpouring of solidarity for our country.

Question: What is the message from businesspeople like yourself, who have offered support?

CSH: The political classes are working; as we have said, governments have been very active from day one. It is worth noting the capacity both of the Army and the Navy to get involved from the very first moment, not only in security issues, but offering support and solidarity, and to a certain extent coordinating what was going on. The Civil Protection agency played an extraordinary role. There was a suitable reaction given the urgency, and now the time has come to start rebuilding and transforming, in order to improve what was destroyed.

Question: Regarding the proposals launched by several political parties to make some sort of contribution...

CSH: All contributions are very positive, whatever they may be.

Thank you very much.

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