Mexico City – President Felipe Calderon signed into a law a measure imposing stricter safety regulations on Mexico's preschools, a move prompted by the deaths of 49 children in a June 2009 fire at a daycare facility.
"Our commitment is clear, we are doing everything that is in our hands to avert, as far as humanly possible, a repetition of events as painful as those at the ABC daycare," Calderon said in a statement.
The measure mandates sanctions for daycare and preschool operators who fail to comply with safety measures. It also creates a national registry of daycare centers and their workers.
The legislation establishes an office responsible for overseeing preschools and ensuring they are equipped with safety features such as emergency exit doors, evacuation routes, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and fire alarms.
Facilities will have one year to meet the requirements or face closure.
The legislation came in response to the June 2009 blaze at the ABC daycare facility in Hermosillo, capital of the northern state of Sonora, which killed 49 children and injured dozens more.
The investigation into the tragedy revealed several code violations, including inadequately designed emergency doors, lack of fire extinguishers, defective smoke detectors and a ceiling made of flammable materials.
Authorities have detained several suspects, but no one has been convicted yet, while others have been released from custody.
Private individuals under contract with the IMSS insurance and social services agency owned and operated the daycare and repeatedly ignored recommendations by that entity to address safety concerns.
Critics say IMSS contracts to run preschools are routinely awarded to people with political connections.
"All of Mexico shares the pain of the fathers and mothers who experienced the deepest sorrow one can have, that of losing a child," Calderon said after enacting the new regulations.