NYT Points to Foreign Minister and Carlos Slim for Collapse of Mexico City Metro

June 15, 2021

The collapse last month of a section of a Mexico City metro line that killed 26 people was likely due to poor construction by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim’s Grupo Carso while foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard was mayor, according to a New York Times investigation.

Problems were identified in the original construction by Slim’s company Carso Infrastructure and Construction, and the collapse was probably caused by bad welding of the steel studs that served as linchpins of the structure, the report revealed. The job may have been rushed because Ebrard sought to open the subway before his mayoral term ended in 2012, the Times said.

The report could damage Grupo Carso as well as the reputation of Ebrard, a key presidential ally, who is seen as an early front-runner along with Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum to be the country’s next president. In a tweet on Sunday, Sheinbaum denied that her office was responsible for leaking information to the newspaper.

Antonio Gomez Garcia, chief executive of Grupo Carso, told the Times that he didn’t believe the accident was due to bad welding of the line’s bolt-like studs, as the article suggested.

Ebrard said in a tweet that his comments to the Times “were completely ignored” and that his response to the newspaper’s queries weren’t adequately included. He also noted that all observations from the federal auditors at the time “were resolved.”

The long-troubled metro track collapsed on May 3 after a decade of safety concerns and probes. In 2014, officials closed most of the Golden Line’s service after determining that twisted rails and damaged ties were endangering passengers. The city banned some officials who headed the project from holding public office and some were fined for alleged irregularities in the planning, bidding, contract signing and execution of the project.

While the line underwent major repairs and later reopened, local media reported severe damage after a 2017 earthquake to a portion of the track one station away from the current collapsed beam. Mexico City says repairs have been done since then.

The Mexico City attorney general’s office is investigating the design and construction of the line to the materials used and the costs. Both Ebrard and Sheinbaum also face scrutiny for their part in overseeing the works, including in the case of Ebrard the original construction and more recent inspections and maintenance under the Sheinbaum administration.

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