Mexico, News Briefs

Mexico President Signs Safety Law For Nurseries

October 27, 2011 By Erwin Cifuentes

Over two years since a fire claimed the lives of nearly fifty children in Mexico, President Felipe Calderón signed into law a landmark proposal to regulate the country’s day care centers.

“Our commitment is clear; we must do all that we can…in order to avoid tragedies as painful as the one at the Guardería ABC (ABC Nursery),” Calderón said at a signing ceremony on Monday. He added that the new law “represented a fundamental step to guarantee the basic safety conditions for the children who attend day care centers” regardless of the entity that controls them.

Under the “Ley de Guarderías” (Nursery Law), all Mexican day care centers will be subject to new safety rules and regulations, including emergency exits, proper evacuation routes and smoke detectors. A newly formed council will provide federal oversight in order to ensure that day care centers follow the safety rules as well as maintain the authority to shut down nurseries that are deemed to be in violation of the law.

Forty-nine children were killed and over one hundred were injured in the June 2007 blaze at the Guardería ABC located in the northern Mexican town of Hermosillo. The fire started in a warehouse located in the same building as the school and some of the fatalities were caused by asphyxiation from the toxic flames. Safety inspectors gave their approval to the school despite several major faults including a poor infrastructure, an insufficient number of exits and an insufficient number of employees to help children in an emergency situation.

Some of the victims’ families reacted positively to the news of the newly signed law. “From the heavens an Angel sends a big kiss and says: ‘Thank you for carrying us in your heart,’” tweeted Julio Márquez, whose son was one of the deceased in the fire.

“It’s a breakthrough in memory of our children,” tweeted another father whose son died in the 2007 tragedy.

In the meantime, a group of legislators have proposed the creation of a $2.6 million trust fund to help in the medical care of dozens of schoolchildren who survived the blaze. Deputy Emilio Serrano said the fund would provide specialized medical care for life to forty-eight minors who did not suffer major burn injuries but are affected with “breathing problems and psychological damage.” Serrano said the parents of survivors with lung damage “must spend more in order to install air conditioners for their children.”

Image: Flickr via user Reindertot.