Anyone tapped into Mexican social media yesterday was inevitably greeted by images of widespread looting, ominous WhatsApp messages urging people to stay in their homes amidst an impending coup d’état, and countless messages of concern and confusion. The day of chaos came on the heels of a sudden hike in gasoline prices – known as the “gasolinazo” – that has set off massive waves of social unrest throughout the country, with groups of outraged citizens seizing gas stations and toll booths, and others calling for nationwide protests.
In the wake of yesterday’s events, some public figures took to social media to decry the lawlessness and criticize their fellow citizens, while others accuse the ruling Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) of stirring up the unrest to discredit protestors and divert attention from their continued mismanagement of resources. Yet, in the midst of so much uncertainty and speculation, another story has begun to emerge that flies in the face of this narrative of delinquency and anti-social behavior.
Indeed, residents of Guadalajara have risen to the occasion by flexing their solidarity and civic spirit with a massive communal ride share campaign sourced under the hashtag #RaiteGDL. Employing the misspelled Mexican slang term for “ride,” the initiative came about in response to a crippling citywide transportation strike tied to the gasolinazo, and started as an effort by local police before blossoming into a citywide expression of mutual support.
Using the hashtag, local car owners are posting their routes on social media, together with descriptions of their car and available seats for anyone who may need a lift around town. The effort may not make up for the total shut down of six transport routes – and partial closure of eight more – but it goes a long way in showing how Mexicans can responding positively to an otherwise dire situation.
This isn’t the first time Tapatíos (as residents of Guadalajara are called) have opened their car doors to their fellow citizens, and the hashtag first surfaced following a transportation strike back in 2012. The fact that it has come back around more than once since then suggests that the good people of Jalisco may have found a fool-proof response to institutional breakdown: coming together.