Mexico Earthquake Day 4: Anger at government is mounting

Tuesday’s massive quake struck on the anniversary of the deadly 1985 tremor that killed some 5,000 people in Mexico City, spooking many residents. As the shock began to subside, exhaustion crept in, along with growing discontent and swirling speculation.

Late on Thursday, Mexico’s Navy apologized for communicating incorrect information in the story a fictitious schoolgirl, supposedly trapped under a collapsed school in Mexico City.

The tale of the girl, dubbed Frida Sofia by local media, had captivated a devastated nation, and the high-profile televised blunder led to anger.

Officials also sought to quash rumors that the military would be bulldozing razed buildings deemed unlikely to harbor survivors. Across the city, thousands of rescue workers and special teams using sniffer dogs continued to comb the wreckage of buildings for survivors.

With signs of tensions bubbling under the surface, the country’s deeply unpopular political class strove to shine.

Disaster relief is sensitive for politicians in Mexico after the government’s widely panned response to the 1985 quake caused upheaval, which some credited with weakening the one-party rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

In a statement, the PRI said it would be donating 258 million pesos ($14.42 million), or 25 percent of its annual federal funding, to help those afflicted.

Meanwhile, the national human rights commission proposed changing the Mexican constitution to divert about 30 percent of political parties’ funding to a federal disaster fund.

Calls for political penny-pinching gained momentum on social media following a powerful quake two weeks ago that killed nearly 100 people in the south of the country.

After that temblor, current leftist presidential frontrunner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador suggested donating 20 percent of his party’s federal campaign funds for victims.

On Thursday, though, after news of the PRI plans broke, Lopez Obrador upped the ante, proposing donating 50 percent of his National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party’s 2018 federal funding to support victims.

Lorenzo Cordova, the head of the national electoral institute, said in a video posted to Twitter the body had no problem with parties choosing to divert funds to the needy.

The full scale of damage has not been officially calculated.

Citigroup’s Mexican unit Citibanamex told clients it was lowering its 2017 economic growth forecast to 1.9 percent from 2.0 percent due to the earthquake.

Reporting by David Alire Garcia; Writing by Gabriel Stargardter and Daniel Flynn; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Jeremy Gaunt and Bernadette Baum

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