After Mexico’s Earthquake, Questions Emerge About Topos’ Rescue Efforts. Here Are Some Answers

Lead Photo: Photo by John Moore / Staff / Getty Images News
Photo by John Moore / Staff / Getty Images News
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>In the aftermath of the devastating September 19 earthquake that struck Mexico, people in and out of the country have urged others to donate to Topos, Mexico-based organizations that launched after the deadly 1985 earthquake. For three decades, the company has helped with relief efforts in Mexico and around the world. When Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson tweeted that she’d do anything to help Mexico, Gael García Bernal suggested she donate to Topos. But a Wednesday Aristegui report painted the group collecting donations as a fake.

In a video posted on the site, Héctor Méndez of Topos Azteca discusses what it was like being on the ground, before accusing Topos Tlatelolco of using its name to get donations. “On social media, there’s another group that’s started to [use the name and my photo] ask for money,” he told journalist Carmen Aristegui. “They use a claw, the footprint of a mole, for their emblem. The leader is named Rafael López López. People, please don’t donate money to them. He’s asking for money as the people of Mexico suffer from this great misfortune. I denounce him publicly, and we, Topos Azteca, have never asked for money and we don’t have any accounts.”

The piece, which only cited Méndez, caused great confusion online. Some began to wonder if they could get the money they donated back. Others didn’t know what to believe as conflicting reports arose.

Hours after the first video, Aristegui posted a new video with Fernando Álvarez of Topos Tlatelolco, a group with about 100 members. Álvarez said that the group, which has also been around since the 1980s, is accepting donations. “We use it for food, transporting, tools, and everything else that’s used to provide care for people,” he said.

Throughout the country there are different groups of Topos, and at least the Tlatelolco and Azteca groups can be distinguished by the colors they wear. Azteca wears orange and Tlatelolco wears red. After the uncertainty Méndez’s interview with Aristegui created, PayPal confirmed that Brigada de Rescate Topos Tlatelolco A.C. had a legitimate account with the company, and that it was the only Topos group – of which there are several – that had one, according to Huffington Post.

Despite the reported conflict between Tlatelolco and Azteca, the country is looking to Topos for help as it recovers from this week’s 7.1 magntitude earthquake (as well as an earthquake that happened about two weeks ago). These groups are stepping up, and in some places, leading the rescue efforts. They’re working tirelessly to once again save their own countrymen. Topos launched after the deadly 1985 earthquake that took place in Mexico. Since then, they have traveled to places like El Salvador, Colombia, Japan, and Haiti to rescue people trapped under rubble.