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Response to Disaster

September 22, 1985

Another impoverished region of the world has been struck by catastrophe. For those of us in the Pacific Southwest, the disastrous earth-quake in Mexico is especially painful because of the many close ties between that nation and this region.

Within hours after the earthquake hit Mexico City and areas west of it, many concerned people in this country moved into action. President Reagan offered his Mexican counterpart, Miguel de la Madrid, whatever assistance the U.S. government could provide. Mayor Tom Bradley, noting the sister-city relationship that Los Angeles has with Mexico's capital, made a similar offer to Mexico City Mayor Ramon Aguirre. International finance officials moved to ameliorate the effect of International Monetary Fund sanctions in the emergency.

And beyond the official response there will be many more expressions of concern and commitments to help the millions of people victimized by the quake. The large Mexican-American community in Southern California has begun mobilizing assistance. So have many thousands of non-Latinos who have friends south of the border, who share the historic affection that has linked the two nations, who understand the terrible consequences for millions already living in misery.

The most effective help will be that which is carefully coordinated. The Mexican government has been in contact with the International Red Cross and other major relief agencies, informing them of its most urgent needs. At the moment the priority requirements are medical--including blood plasma, medicines for the injured, plaster for casts. People who want to help immediately can send money to the American Red Cross, either directly to the local chapter at 2700 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles 90057, or through the Spanish-language newspaper La Opinion, which is coordinating some of the help.

The instantaneous response of Angelenos is an expression of condolence, but also of compassion, of a sense of shared vulnerability to the same natural forces that have brought such destruction to Mexico. The pain and sorrow of close neighbors, historically one, ignores the political frontier between.

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