Things That Matter

Let’s Forget El Chapo For Two Seconds And Talk About This

Mexico’s drug war did not end with Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s second arrest. Far from. His arrest is but a dent in what has been Mexico’s decade-long war against the drug cartels. And to show that, the following six things prove there’s a long way to go.

1. The assassination of Gisela Mota happened just a day after she had become mayor of Texmico, Morelos. Although she had said she was going to fight against the drug cartels, the reason for her killing is not clear, but many blame the Los Rojos drug gang. Mota is one of the 100,000 mayors who have been killed in the last 10 years.

2. It’s well-known that corruption runs rampant within the Mexican government. Humberto Moreira, former governor of the state Coahuila, has been accused of such corruption. He was recently arrested in Spain because of money laundering allegations. While he was in office, he was accused of embezzling public funds while the state’s debt rose to 35 billion, 100 times more in six years. He maintains his innocence and was released from jail soon after he was arrested. Like him, there are 15 governors accused of corruption, but not much has been done against them.

3. The homicide rate in Mexico had declined between the years of 2011-2014, but last year, the country saw an incredible increase of 7.6 percent.

READ: Mexico City Ranks #1 in the World, Find Out Why

4. 27,600 people have “disappeared” in Mexico due to the security forces’ practice of kidnapping and killing any political opponent. That number includes the 43 teachers and college students of the rural town of Ayotzinapa. Little has been done to investigate their disappearance.

5. Mexico is trying to change the criminal justice system to help deal with violence and corruption. The reform set to take place will focus on oral arguments of any given case rather than the current method of written testimony given to a judge who makes a decision behind doors. The new system is supposed to be implemented in the entire country by July 18th.

6. A major problem fueling the crime rate in Mexico is the 70 percent of the firearms used in those crimes come from the United States. However, the guns are purchased legally in gun shows and shops and then smuggled into Mexico.

Read more about what’s going on in Mexico’s drug war from the Huffington Post here.

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Cartels In Colombia Are Killing Residents Who Don’t Obey Their Covid-19 Lockdown Orders

Things That Matter

Cartels In Colombia Are Killing Residents Who Don’t Obey Their Covid-19 Lockdown Orders

LUIS ROBAYO / Getty Images

Colombia’s government was quick to institute wide-ranging measures meant to prevent the spread of Coronavirus within the country. They banned all international travel – even of its own citizens – and instituted nation-wide curfews that limit the times and amount of people that can go into markets, pharmacies and other essential services.

However, like many places, not all people have adhered to the restrictions and Colombia is seeing a surge in cases. In places where the government has failed to protect its citizens, local cartels are now stepping onto the scene and enforcing their own much more severe rules and lockdown orders. For those who don’t respect the new rules, they risk severe consequences – including death – at the hands of cartel members.

Colombian cartels are executing those who break their Coronavirus lockdown rules.

Across Colombia, heavily armed cartels have introduced their own Coronavirus lockdown measures and “justice” system for those who break quarantine orders. To date, a least nine people have been killed for either refusing to adhere to the hardline restrictions or for daring to speak out against them.

The worrying news was revealed by experts from the campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW). José Miguel Vivanco, HRW’s Americas director, said the shocking developments are down to the failure to keep control over swathes of Colombia after decades of in-fighting.

“In communities across Colombia, armed groups have violently enforced their own measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” he said. “This abusive social control reflects the government’s long-standing failure to establish a meaningful state presence in remote areas of the country, including to protect at-risk populations.”

Left-wing National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels and former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were among those said to be responsible.

“They have shut down transport between villages, and when someone is suspected to have Covid-19 they are told to leave the region or they will be killed,” one community leader in Colombia’s southern Putumayo province told the Guardian, on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “And people have no choice but to obey because they never see the government here.”

The cartels curfew orders are even more strict than those imposed by the actual local governments.

Credit: Juan Barreto / Getty Images

At the very start of the Coronavirus pandemic, Colombia’s government was quick to institute wide ranging lockdown measures. Since March, the entire country has been under lockdown, which includes curfew hours with allowances for people to leave their houses for necessities and in a medical emergency. But the cartels have reportedly implemented more stringent and sometimes lethal measures across 11 of the country’s 32 states.

HRW’s report tells how in the port city of Tumaco – where local residents are banned by gangs from fishing – cartels are limiting their ability to earn money and food. They have also imposed a 5pm curfew on citizens – far stricter than that imposed by the state. 

In the provinces of Cauca and Guaviare armed groups torched motorcycles belonging to those who they claimed ignored their lockdown measures.

Cartels distributed pamphlets about the restrictions, warning that they are ‘forced to kill people in order to preserve lives.

Credit: Luis Robayo / Getty Images

The cartels are informing residents of the lockdown orders and that armed fighters would kill anyone who disobeyed them. Cartel groups handed out pamphlets and communicated with communities through WhatsApp to establish curfews, lockdowns and restrictions on movement for people, cars, and boats, according to the report from HRW.

COVID-19 instructions also included limits on opening days and hours for shops as well as bans on access to communities for foreigners and people from other communities.

One pamphlet by the National Liberation Army (ELN) fighters in Bolívar, in northern Colombia, from early April said they were “forced to kill people in order to preserve lives” because the population had not “respected the orders to prevent Covid-19.”

The pamphlet said “only people working in food stores, bakeries, and pharmacies can work,” and only until certain hours of the day, saying others should stay “inside their houses.”

The brutal attacks come as Covid-19 cases have been surging across Colombia and elsewhere in South America.

Like much of South America, Colombia is bracing for the worst of the Coronavirus pandemic. Since the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed on March 6, medical authorities have confirmed 159,898 cases, with 5,625 deaths. Cases regularly climb by over 5,000 a day.

Meanwhile, nearby countries in the region – including Ecuador and Brazil – are the region’s epicenter for the pandemic. It’s only a question of time until the worst of the outbreak arrives in Colombia.

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Mexico Looks To Ban Beauty Pageants For Contributing To Machismo Attitudes And Violence Against Women

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Mexico Looks To Ban Beauty Pageants For Contributing To Machismo Attitudes And Violence Against Women

Paras Griffin / Getty Images

Beauty pageants have long been an integral part of Mexican celebrations – from Carnival to fiestas celebrating a Pueblo’s patron saint, they’re extremely common. However, as violence against women soars to new records across the country, Mexico’s newly formed ‘Gender Equality Commission’ has introduced new measures that would effectively ban beauty pageants.

The commission sees beauty pageants as contributing to gender stereotypes, machismo attitudes, and, in turn, endemic violence against women.

However, many Mexicans have already voiced their strong opposition to the proposed rules and intent to fight back against them.

Mexico’s Gender Equality Commission has announced new rules that would ban beauty pageants in the country.

The Mexican Congress has taken up recommendations that the country move to ban beauty pageants. The new bill, based on recommendations from the Gender Equality Commission, would include new provisions to the general law on Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence.

The commission introduced several new provisions meant to help reduce violence against women, but the one that many Mexicans are talking about is the potential beauty pageant ban – as beauty pageants are a major part of Mexican society.

Members of the commission expressed their objection towards any such form of competition in which beauty or physical appearance of women, girls, or adolescents is evaluated in full or in part based on sexist stereotypes.

“We believe that beauty contests are events which show women through socio-cultural standards and under gender stereotypes as an instrument to maintain the concept of a female body as an object. This limits the personal development of the participants,” the members added.

Under the new guidelines, pageants will not be able to use public resources, official promotion, subsidies and any kind of economic or institutional support for carrying out these kinds of shows. It’s also possible that privately-funded pageants could be subject to the ban.

Mexico has long suffered from gender-based violence but the issue is getting worse year after year.

Credit: Toyo Sarno Jordan / Getty Images

In Mexico, the rallying cry “Ni Una Menos” has been on the tips of everyone’s tongue as violence against women has spiraled out of control in 2020. Before the Coronavirus pandemic forced people to stay home, hundreds of thousands of Mexicans took part in some of the largest protests ever seen across the country, denouncing the growing violence epidemic.

So far, an average of 10 women are killed everyday in Mexico. And 911 calls for domestic violence are up more than 60%, as women are forced to stay home with their abuser.

Meanwhile, the country’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has brushed off the killings as being sensationalized by his opposition to make him look bad. In fact, after news broke of a recent woman’s murder, AMLO was asked about her death at a press conference. However, he told reporters that he did not want to talk about gender-motivated killings of women because he did not want “femicides to distract from the raffle,” referring to a raffle his administration had organized around the sale of the presidential airplane.

The country has a long history of competing in international beauty pageants.

Credit: Miss International Queen

Beauty pageants have been popular in Mexico for several decades and many Mexicans have preformed well at both national and international competitions. So it’s no surprise that many have come out against the announcement and expressed their sadness about the end of pageants.

Several Mexican women have won big at international competitions, including: Vanessa Ponce De Leon (Miss World 2018), Sofia Aragon (2nd Runner Up Miss Universe 2019), and Andrea Toscano (1st Runner Up Miss International 2019).

A Mexican transgender woman also won out over contestants from 21 countries, at Thailands Miss International Queen. Valentina Fluchaire was crowned queen in 2019 at the annual pageant for transgender women in Thailand.

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