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Mexicans Gather Aid For Hurricane Victims It’s The Poor Who Are Hardest Hit At Flashy Seaside Resort Acapulco

Sun., Oct. 12, 1997

Thousands of Mexicans united Saturday to pitch in truckloads of aid for Hurricane Pauline’s victims, one of the biggest outpourings of generosity since an earthquake rocked the capital in 1985.

A 3-year-old here packed clothes for the effort, and a woman there donated two rolls of toilet paper. But one man sent in 36 tons of food as part of the strong response to appeals to help thousands left homeless on the ravaged Pacific coast.

As they did when the Mexico City quake killed thousands, people thronged the Mexican Red Cross headquarters here, snarling traffic as they dropped off needed food, medicine, clothes and supplies.

“We’re going through very sad days in Mexico, but at the same time, it’s illuminating to see what the Mexican people can do,” said Alexandra Rovzar, vice president of the Red Cross’ Disaster Committee.

By Saturday, the Red Cross said it had sent 200 tons of supplies for Oaxaca and Guerrero states, including Acapulco, struck by flash floods, high waves and high winds during Pauline’s midweek rampage. At least 183 deaths have been reported.

“We always see Acapulco as so beautiful, but in reality it is the poor people who are suffering,” said Marta Rios.

Many of the donors recalled the powerful 8.1 quake of Sept. 19, 1985. Television ran footage of that quake’s damage while soliciting Pauline aid.

The government was heavily criticized at the time for failing to respond quickly.

President Ernesto Zedillo cut short a state visit to Germany to fly all night to Acapulco to tour the damage, brushing aside criticism his government hasn’t done enough. He ordered in 6,500 soldiers and hundreds of military doctors and nurses. Unlike in 1985, few have voiced the same level of criticism of the government’s handling of the latest disaster.

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