Pemex

John Paul Rathbone

Police outside the premises of Pemex on January 31 (Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images)

Police outside the premises of Pemex on January 31 (Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images)

Accidents happen, and Latin America has suffered two major accidents this past week: the first, a night club fire in Brazil on Sunday morning, the second, an explosion at Pemex’s headquarters in Mexico City on Thursday afternoon.

Many innocent people died at both; those are the awful human consequences. But both accidents will have political consequences too. Although it may sound callous, these may help speed the reform programs of Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian president, and Enrique Peña Nieto, her Mexican counterpart.

Ms Rousseff, midway through her term, is seeking to root out corruption in Brazil and improve infrastructure before the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. To political opponents or vested interests, she can now say: just look at the 230 people who died in the Kiss Night Club in Santa Maria. Do you want a repeat? It’s time to call time on shoddy building regulations and civil service corruption that allows such infringements to go unheeded. Read more