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Los Topos to Haiti

14 January 2010

While three Mexican military planes are on their way to Haiti with 15 tons of relief supplies, and two naval ships — the Huasteco and the Papaloapan — are steaming towards the disaster-struck nation, a special shout-out should be given to an unexpected good Samaritan, PRI Federal Deputy Francisco Rojas.

Rojas has convinced his fellow PRI Deputies to chip in to pay the airfare for probably the best — and most needed — resource Mexico can offer it’s sister Republic:  la Brigada Internacional de Rescate Tlaltelolco-Azteca, the Mole Men of Tlaltelolco.

A spontaneous response to Mexico City’s own tragic earthquake of 19 September 1985, the Brigada’s nucleus were residents of Tlatelolco who — when several apartment buildings collapsed — and the PRI controlled government was either too paralyzed or inept to act — took it upon themselves to rescue their trapped neighbors. While the original crew included some, like sewer workers, who had the special skills useful for the dangerous work of digging though unstable rubble, many relied on a very tough on-the-job training program.

In the years since, the Mole Men — all volunteers who are willing to walk off their jobs and risk their lives for complete strangers anywhere in the world where natural disasters strike — have become one of, if not THE, most respected search and rescue teams in the world.  After the Christmas Tsuami of 2004, German airline Lufthansa provided free transport to the Mole Men from Mexico City to Indonesia, where an Australian Air Force plane (and crew) was put at their disposal.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. 14 January 2010 7:43 pm

    Thank you for sharing this – an interesting and inspiring group I have not heard of before.

  2. 14 January 2010 7:54 pm

    Matt Hawkins
    // 14 January 2010 at 7:43 pm | Reply Thank you for sharing this an interesting and inspiring group I have not heard of before.

    • 22 December 2010 1:04 pm

      thanku u can joint our International Rescue team on Facebook as well: Brigada internacional de Rescate Tlatelolco Azteca, TOPOS (english Moles) for check our participation for disaster relief arounf the world

  3. 14 January 2010 10:42 pm

    I’ve lived in Mexico for years and never heard of these guys. They deserve a big hurrah! Great post Mex File men.

  4. 15 January 2010 8:01 am

    kind message,
    love spread.

  5. esmeralda permalink
    15 January 2010 11:49 am


  6. 15 January 2010 12:38 pm

    Hi, your blog is very interesting, congrats! However you are wrong about the date of the earthquake, it was on he 19th not the 18th. On the following evening, friday 20th, there was also another big one.


  7. 15 January 2010 1:35 pm

    Joaquin is, right. My keyboard must have shifted on me!

  8. 15 January 2010 6:39 pm

    You should be very careful with what you are stating here “PRI controlled government was either too paralyzed or inept to act”

    My dad, at that time working in La Amada de México, was helping shoulder to shoulder with his squad, rescuing alive people. I was 13 years old whent the quake happened, and believe me, it was scary to know that your dad could also die trapped.

    There were more unknown heroes than the Topos, which who I personally sympathize. Good cause, an applaud for the recognition. However, such remark made me change my opinion.

  9. ROCKZTECA permalink
    16 January 2010 5:41 pm

    Thanks for bloging about Los Topos.
    I’m a Mexican living in Chicago since 1998, however I remember 1985 earthquake like yesterday, and was looking for news about Los Topos, because I was sure they would get involved in the rescue efforts. Weird because they where not mentioned on the mexican news (via Galavision) so far and I was affraid the group had dissapeared.

    Thanks again and kudos on the blog, people need to know we (Mexicans) are more than cheap laborers or great fast food cashiers 😉

  10. Hector John permalink
    18 January 2010 8:32 am


    The scenes in Haiti defy Expression
    After an Earthquake ravaged this defiant nation
    7.0 on the Richter scale
    That left a heart wrenching dead body trail
    Bodies pile up on the streets
    As breathing amid the ruins quickly goes to sleep
    Hands became shovels
    As aftershocks keep the victims unstable
    Doors turned in emergency beds
    While horrified survivors weakly wailing among the dead
    Flashbacks from Hurricane Katrina
    And the Tsunami in South East Asia
    Haiti you have seen it all
    From slavery to political upheavals to economic downfalls
    It has been a constant struggle
    Now you have to rise above the rubble
    Haiti, this awful tragedy
    Has become a world peace remedy
    From the debris I feel a konpa rhythm
    Assuring Haitians that they are going to win
    Amongst the horror
    I can hear Wycelf echoing Toussaint
    In tearful patriotism, “VIVE HAITI

  11. 18 January 2010 9:02 am

    I am Mexican, and Los topos is probably the most reconized civil rescue group in Mexico, the have been in Tsunami rescues, 9/11, Honduras Flood, Turkish Earthquake, even when is a gropu with limited resources is probably one of the groups with better succesfull rescues by person working, unfortunatelly they had problems of discrimination with rescuers in Haiti, believe me this group is one that makes me be proud of being Mexican someday when I go back to mexico I want o be a Topo.

  12. 18 January 2010 9:07 am

    So far Mexican mision (Topos, La marina, proteccion Civil, etc.) Have rescued at least 10 persons,

  13. Jessy permalink
    23 January 2010 7:24 pm

    Los Topos are a big organization that will always make me proud of being a mexican! Those other rescuers that are showing discrimination against los topos are just acting jelous because los topos are being honored like true heroes! 🙂

  14. BML permalink
    27 January 2010 11:30 am

    I am a mexican living in holland and proud to hear of them, it comes close to home since the husband and son of the best friend of my closest colleague are still trap under a building and I just heard it is the topos who are actually searching for them, when everybody else said no.

  15. 27 January 2010 11:31 pm

    Topos mexicanos the top rescue crew in the world

  16. 27 January 2010 11:40 pm

    The most respected search an rescue team in the world

  17. ulises permalink
    31 March 2010 12:14 pm

    saludos al chino de (los topos) from NY
    ette: el pochuitoque ulises

  18. 22 December 2010 9:36 am

    im a topo memeber for the search and rescue mexican relief team…anyone to cantact topos , joint us or suppurt us you are very welcome!


  1. Los Topos to Haiti « Mexico Institute
  3. Mexican Mole Men: Angels with Chopped-Off Wings. | TDG – Science, Magick, Myth and History « Barbaryalan's Blog
  4. Guanabee | Meet The Most Elite Earthquake Rescue Team In The World: Los Topos De Mexico
  5. Meet The Most Elite Earthquake Rescue Team In The World: Los Topos De Mexico « Daily News

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