By Cameron Hildebrand
In Mexico City, in the state of Hidalgo, a pipeline exploded into flames. Several dozens of people were killed during this incident due to people at the blast said collecting fuel from the leak. Residents say this was done in order to try to make up for the deficit of fuel.
Currently, some Mexicans have claimed that it was 100% the victims’ fault because they were breaking the law and taking what was not theirs. If the victims hadn’t died, then the President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, stated that they would be charged and arrested for theft.
Gasoline was quickly spewing from a pipeline, through a hole punched by thieves who were actually stealing the gas. When people saw this, they hurried over to see and brought containers with them to collect and take advantage of the spewing gas.
The oil firm, known as Pemex, was rushing to open the pipeline because of gas shortages. According to reporters, Pemex said that on Monday they had noticed a leak in the pipeline, but it was initially a “small puddle,” but later it grew into a “fountain.”
In the beginning, the death toll was only at ninety-one. At that time, Pemex declared that it was one of the deadliest incidents to hit the oil company.
Reports have risen to ninety-four deaths due to the pipeline explosion.
Before this leak and soon-to-be explosions, Central Mexico had been hit by gasoline shortages after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador locked down on fuel theft. A little over a month and a half ago pipelines were shut down as efforts to stop this criminal activity.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador argues that the people were compelled to take part in this “criminal activity” due to the poverty and high unemployment rates that had been caused by previous years of government policies. “We have the conviction that the people are good, that they are honest, that if they arrived at these extremes, these practices, it’s because they were completely abandoned” by the state, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said at a news conference over the weekend. His cabinet has followed suit. “We are not going to victimize the communities,” said Alejandro Gertz, Mexico’s attorney general.
Claudia Zacarias Hernandez heard the screams as flames engulfed dozens who had gathered to collect fuel from a gushing pipeline in Mexico. “All those who had been burned were yelling… I feel terrible because I could not help. All the burned were screaming and I could not help them.”
The blast followed recent severe shortages and law enforcers had been told that it was necessary to crack down on fuel theft. On Monday, a pipeline was breached by suspected thieves a few miles southwest of Tlahuelilpan at the village of Teocalco, but was quickly cordoned off by soldiers, Fayad said.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has tried to shift attention towards the deep societal problems. This includes inequality and poverty within the country. He insists that those are the main causes of the nation's crime problem. The President efforts have also included opening a community development program that is aimed at municipalities previously involved with theft crimes.
“In part, it was the shortage; people said: ‘there’s gasoline here, it’s free,’” Hidalgo Governor Omar Fayad told Reuters. “‘It’s spilling onto the ground, let’s get it.’”
The blast was described as ‘swallowing everything in its path.’ The reporters believe that the final toll of deaths is likely to exceed one hundred. Forty-eight people have reported to be under critical condition in the local hospital.
The Economist claims that residents may have paid a fee to whoever caused the leak in the pipe to begin with. People have a hard time resisting cheap fuel because it takes a day of minimum wage income to earn enough for five liters, but it takes barely this amount of effort to just fill a bucket up. This has made fuel theft become completely out of control in all parts of Mexico.
Videos of the hours following the blast reveals the locals racing towards the cite of an illegal tap on the pipeline. Soldiers stood by as the crowds rushed to the pipeline, but failed to do anything because they felt threatened. Just days before the explosion, a group of soldiers had been taken hostage by residents of a nearby town.
Hidden dangers have arisen in Mexico. Members of local cartels and gangs have been targeting the network of pipelines in Mexico. Just last year, 12,000 illegal taps happened each day. The government has been blind to this happening as the social security crisis brought more worry.