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MEI Market Note 146 (revised 02/14/2013): Explosion at Pemex HQ in Building B-2 — Narratives and counter-narratives

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What started out as a single voice of public alarm at the fate of Pemex employees who were trapped under a collapsed building at the company’s headquarters complex—reviving the collective trauma of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake—by the 10th day had morphed into a chatter of competing conspiratorial narratives. These narratives had in common the supposition that the explosion had been intentional; but, otherwise, the versions differed wildly.

This report offers a perspective on the evolution of the government's narrative of the cause and responsibility of the explosion. As background the report offers a review of selected, Pemex accidents in the past. Appended is a reformatted version of the transcript of the Pemex press briefing of February 7.

Attention is also given to the counter-narratives that seek alternative explanatives for what happened and about what it means. The report draws on the statements of Pemex and government officials, as in the Pemex conference call to lenders on February 5 and its press conference of February 7. Additional sources include video documentation on YouTube and other sites; as well as communication with sources in Mexico City who have knowledge of the layout and uses of the damaged building.

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