cuernavaca sinkhole

earlier this month, a fatal traffic accident near the central mexican city of cuernavaca and the brazen (without shame, in-your-face) negligence that caused it became an international news story. the associated press  ran this headline over an article by mark stevenson.

Mexican highway sinkhole that killed 2 exposes corruption

expose means reveal, show. do NOT use expose when u are talking about giving a presentation [exponer in spanish]. if u say, “i exposed myself at the meeting” it sounds like indecent exposure —intentionally dispalying private parts, which is a crime in most communities.

indecent exposure 

this is the cuernavaca sinkhole

ap photo/tony rivera

stevenson reports

a car carrying a father and son plunged into a giant sinkhole that opened on a highway in central mexico

plunge means descend rapidly.

not exactly “festooned with banners”, but the sign is thanking president peña nieto for the new highway

embarrassingly, president enrique peña nieto‘s administration was still celebrating the road as a success at the time of the tragedy.

the highway connecting mexico city and the pacific coast resort of acapulco had only recently been redone and was still festooned with inaugural banners proclaiming “thank u, mr. president!” for the project.

had only recently been redone and was still festooned are past perfect passive voice and past passive voice respectively.  redo is rennovatefestoon is decorate. because of passive voice, who festooned or redid is not menitoned, but it can be implied that it was the government in both cases.

a día de los muertos ofrenda festooned with marigolds and skulls

the administration was not eager (excited) to take responsibility for the failure.

in the aftermath of the disaster, the head of the transportation department, gerardo ruiz esparza, said he had never been told of the warnings and defended the work done on the highway. he blamed unusually heavy rains for the sinkhole.

aftermath refers to the situataion after a negative event. had been told is another example of past perfect passive voice. blame means assign responsibility. in other words, the mexican secretary of transportation is following milli vanilli’s advice from 1989.

the public and the media are not ready to blame the rain though.  stevenson explains

it soon came to light that the two companies that did the bulk of the project…… had little experience in similar projects. they won the contract by submitting the lowest bid, but ended up going way over budget, more than doubling the cost of the project.

come to light means it was found out, exposed.  bid means offer. end up is arriving to the end of a process, and going is in the -ing form becuase up is a preposition.

most companies have a toll free number for customer service. (dna)

stevenson’s article shares these facts about transportation in mexico

mexico has some of the most expensive highway tolls in the world, in part because of construction cost overruns and suspiciously generous contracts for private companies that build or operate highways under concessions.

toll is money paid to use a road.  it is important vocabulary in mexico where nearly any description of travel by car requires toll booth (the place where tolls are paid).

toll booth
toll booth

overrun indicates costs were more expensive than expected. a concession means the government allows a company to operate and charge for use of a road.

fun elt practice  :) richyrocks english on youtube

stevenson also observes

the highway, rail and mass transit sector has been a magnet for corruption because of the huge budgets, weak or non-existent bidding processes and lack of accountability.

lack means without and accountablity means accepting responsibility for actions or decisionsblaming the weather and ignoring, then denying the warnings of officials closer to the project are evidence of this lack of accountability.

can corruption be eliminated from big government transportation projects?  how can citizens force  the government to be accountable?  share your ideas under leave a reply





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