Mexican Earthquakes, Resilience, and a Dog Named Frida

Today, 19 September 2021, marking the 36th anniversary of the devastating 1985 Mexico City earthquake. Unfortunately, Mexicans have another, more recent seismic event on their minds, as well. But despite the jarring coincidence of a second major earthquake rattling the city on the exact same date, the 2017 Puebla earthquake presents a different kind of story than that of a disaster made worse by government inaction and ineptitude. It’s a story of courage, hope, and resilience. And the face of that story is a heroic dog named Frida.

Frida the rescue dog. Photo by Gobierno de la Ciudad de México, CC BY 4.0 

On Mexican Courage and Resilience in the Face of Disaster

Any earthquake is, of course, a huge tragedy for those who lose loved ones and/or homes. And the sensation of feeling the Earth below you shaking or the building you’re in swaying is pretty nerve-wracking, let alone witnessing entire concrete buildings collapsing to the ground! So the stories of people rushing in to try to help instead of running in the opposite direction in search of safety says so much about the nature of the many chilangos who did just that during the 2017 earthquake, a 7.1 quake, whose epicenter was determined to be just outside San Felipe Ayutla, Puebla, by the US Geological Survey.

Diego Luna says he was inspired by seeing Mexicans running into the danger zone to help:

A reporter from the Dallas Daily News also documented the resilience and solidarity of the Mexican people in the face of disaster and hardship, highlighting how a new generation of young Mexicans who weren’t around back in 1985 has taken it upon themselves to do whatever it takes to help their neighbors and move their country forward.  I mean, this snippet says it all: 

“’There is more courage in Mexico than in any other country I know,’ said John Womack, a historian at Harvard University and longtime expert on Mexico. ‘The resilience — strength of heart, corazon, courage — comes from family and from historically, for centuries, having to face disaster after disaster without much of a coherent state to help.’”

Volunteers moving debris in Colonia Obrera, Mexico City
Photo by ProtoplasmaKid, CC BY-SA 4.0 

Frida the Rescue Dog Goes Viral

The biggest hero to emerge from the 2017 terremoto was Frida the rescue dog. Frida became an international star after the Secretaria de Marina (SEMAR) posted this tweet about the loveable golden Labrador retriever several days before the Puebla quake, as she had been hard at work helping rescue people caught in the massive 8.2 Chiapas earthquake that had shaken much of the country on 9 September. 

Although there were other valiant rescue dogs that also helped save lives by going into dangerous situations in search of survivors, Frida was the most experienced among them. She and her handler, Israel Arauz Salinas, have even been honored with a statue in the city of Puebla along with a plaque that memorializes the pair as “symbols of the strength Mexicans can have when we decide to come together for great causes.” 

This article first appeared in on 9/17/2019.

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