before china earthquake news falls to background noise (remember myanmar just days ago?)

currently, the media is unsurprisingly focused on rescue and relief measures. no doubt there will soon be an afh call to build houses for the victims. and then architecture headlines will go back to the soon to be completed jaw-dropping olympian projects, the koolhaasian cctv tower, etc. by then, all will be well and forgotten (architecture is just a dandy vehicle for distraction, evasion and distortion). responsibility and other issues will probably stay well buried along with remains and the debris.

for me, the eartquake rang bells from 1985. the devastation that tore through mexico city at dawn on september 19th that year generated not only rage, and despair and loss -material and personal, physical and emotional- but a true political and architectural aftershock.  the rotting rule of  the PRI (many of the grand buildings that were completely wiped out by the earthquake were actually public buildings: hospitals, housing complexes, government offices, etc. built in the heyday of the authoritarian "desarrollista" or developmentalist state) became unbearably exposed. the root of the political and social organization upheaval that eventually led to a local (and then national) challenge and end to the one-party-rule system can clearly be traced to the terremoto.

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