Things That Matter

As Massive Protests Sweep Latin America, Here’s Why Mexico Has Been Able To Avoid Them So Far

2019 will be remembered as the year in which Latin America was swept by a wave of protests, mostly led by young people who are fed up with the status quo and right-wing governments.

Chile has been taken over by a massive wave of protests that has encompassed not only the capital of Santiago, but also places such as Valparaiso. These protests are not only attended by young activists, but also by unions, lay people and basically anyone who wants to speak out against neoliberal economic policies and conservative politics that have turned the police force known as carabineros into a repressive entity.

In Colombia, social unrest reached unprecedented levels in the capital of Bogota and even became deadly when a young activist was killed, which led to further protests against police brutality. Ecuador has also experienced mass protests and the most vulnerable, particularly indigenous groups, have unjustly suffered the consequences. 

Just like when Middle Eastern countries protested in what was collectively known as the Arab Spring in the early 2010s, Latin America seems to be at a turning point in which change seems inevitable and the polarization in society when it comes to cultural, political and social issues is at its highest.  

But Mexico has escaped this wave of protests even if it has been historically a highly politicized society… perhaps the ghost of 1968 is still lingering.

On October 2 1968, a few weeks before Mexico City was due to hold the Olympic Games, a crowd of students was massacred by the army in the infamous Masacre de Tlatelolco. This event, in which police and military forces acted with brutality and impunity, has defined political life in Mexico for decades. Even though protests are numerous, they are smaller in size and generally a one-off occurrence rather than a long and sustained effort. This might be due, in part, to the internalized fear of State repression. 

Contemporary Mexico suffers from a gross divide between rich and poor, and also corruption that is endemic to politicians and public servants. So are people not fed up? 

As the Mexicanist points out, poverty rates in Mexico surpass 40% and are only second to Honduras in the region. At the same time, the rich in Mexico are super rich, perhaps only comparable to the elites in countries such as Singapore, the United States and Britain. Corruption runs rampant in every level of government and the private sector basically does anything it wants if its pockets are deep enough. The government led my AMLO has made the fight against corruption its main policy, which in a way is a preemptive attack against dissent.  

So why has Mexico escaped mass protests? A weak opposition and a new semi-leftist government.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador addresses supporters after receiving the staff of command from indigenous people during the AMLO Fest at Zocalo square in Mexico City, Mexico December 1, 2018. Picture taken December 1, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

There are several reasons why the wave of protests that has caught fire throughout the region. The first and perhaps foremost reason is that the AMLO led government is barely a year old and so far it has been rather centrist in its political approach. The decades-long fear that an AMLO-led government would lead Mexico into a situation akin to Chavez’s and Maduro’s Venezuela.

Added to that, the opposition, mainly embodied by the conservative PAN, is in total disarray. The presidential campaign of Ricardo Anaya divided PAN-members and caused the balkanization of the party, whereby different factions emerged. Added to that, this party and the legacy of its last president, Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, has been scrutinized for the past few months and critiques reached a boiling point when Genaro Garcia Luna, who led Calderon’s war against the drug cartels, was arrested in the United States for allegedly receiving bribes from the Sinaloa cartel.

So centrist AMLO government + weakened opposition: a lid on social unrest. A very, very provisional lid, however. 

AMLO’s discourse resembled the demands of protesters in South America… and he has a 60% approval rate.

If we were to place the Mexican president in the political spectrum compared to his counterparts in Colombia and Chile, he would be to the left… the extreme left. The anti neoliberal flag that protesters wave in South America is one that AMLO has been waving for decades. Now, this is on a discursive level so far: it might be to early to tell, but early indications from the AMLO presidency lead many to believe that he is not as leftist as he seems. But the discourse is working when it comes to appeasing social unrest similar to that experienced in South America, as Mexicanist explains: “The Mexican president’s criticisms of the neoliberal model, its harmful effects on popular welfare and his “perverse vocation for corruption” are in tune with the narrative of the movements of indignant Latin Americans. Also, the harangues against public-private corruption and the system of privileges that has been forged in Latin American-style capitalism.”

Added to this, Lopez Obrador enjoys a comfortable 60% approval rate even though he lost 10-15% in the past year due to pressing matters such as the violence that the country has experienced in 2019, the most savage year on record, among other challenges and mistakes that have defined the new administration. 

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

Things That Matter

Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

When it comes to international happiness rankings, Mexico has long done well in many measurements. In fact, in 2019, Mexico placed number 23 beating out every other Latin American country except for Costa Rica. But in 2020, things looks a lot different as the country slipped 23 spots on the list. What does this mean for Mexico and its residents? 

Mexico slips 23 spots on the World Happiness Report thanks to a variety of compelling factors.

Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, the new report indicates.

“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.

The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.

Mexico has struggled especially hard against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started, Mexico has fared far worse than many other countries across Latin America. Today, there are reports that Mexico has been undercounting and underreporting both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths. Given this reality, the country is 2nd worst in the world when it comes to number of suspected deaths, with more than 200,000 people dead. 

Could the happiness level have an impact on this year’s elections?

Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.

But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.

Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.

Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.

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Here Are 9 Salsas From Across Latin America That You’ll Carry In Your Bag Every Day Of The Week

Culture

Here Are 9 Salsas From Across Latin America That You’ll Carry In Your Bag Every Day Of The Week

I guarantee that since Beyonce’s hit anthem ‘Formation’ hit the airwaves, we’ve all been wanting to channel our inner Bey and carry some hot sauce in our bags. But which one would you choose?  

Whether you prefer sweet and sour, ranch, spicy, or mild, when it comes to options, the possibilities are endless!

A sauce’s beauty is that every country has its famous creation that usually accompanies their traditional dishes. Every Latin American country has its mouth-watering sauce that was created using recipes passed down from ancestors.

AJILIMOJILI

In Puerto Rico, this sauce is quite popular because of its ají dulce flavor – a mix of sweet and sour notes. The green salsa is the Caribbean’s version of hot sauce and is added to recipes, such as seafood and boiled vegetables.

VALENTINA

Few of us don’t know about the magic that is Valentina. Pour that sauce all over your papas, pizza, jicama, elotes, and so much more. And it’s great because it’s available in a variety of heat levels so everyone can enjoy. 

TIÁ LUPITA HABANERO SAUCE

This Habanero Hot Sauce is an original family recipe of the brand and combines just the right amount of heat with each fruit’s natural sweetness. It is handmade in small batches, using only habanero peppers, dates, mangos, and spices. All ingredients are sourced from local farms and are non-GMO and gluten-free certified.

The sauce can be used as a condiment with breakfast burritos, eggs, sandwiches, tacos, pulled pork, steak, chicken, fish, quesadillas, and more.

CHIMICHURRI

Chimichurri is mostly tied to Argentina, even though other countries also serve the herb-based salsa. To achieve the perfect chimichurri, mix parsley, oregano, garlic, onion, pepper, vinegar, and olive oil. Pair with meat cuts like churrasco and watch the magic happen.

CHIRMOL

In Central America, chismol or chirmol is made of tomatoes, onion, peppers and other ingredients. It’s similar to pico de gallo and is used in a variety of dishes.

RICANTE

Sauce, dressing, dip, marinade… Ricante does it all and with no sugar or salt added and with just the right amount of approachable spice. Ricante is not only Non-GMO, Gluten-Free, and Keto Friendly, but tiá approved!

Ricante launched with five incredibly unique hot sauces, marrying non-traditional essences like apples, mangos, carrots, and habaneros.

SALSA ROSA

Pastas are enjoyed all across Latin America, especially in Argentina and Uruguay, which pair the dishes with salsa rosa, a tomato-based sauce mixed with heavy cream. Together, they create a pink paste that blankets a variety of pasta dishes.

TACTICAL TACOS

Wait, so not all taco bases are citrus?! Tactical Tacos knows how to do taco sauce right with their notes of orange, lime, and cilantro to start your bite out just right, followed up with a perfect hint of Jalapeno and Cayenne pepper in the background. That’s just their mild sauce, Snafu. The Fire Fight and Ghost Protocol give you a similar ride with the citrus kick but with a much bigger spice hit for those that are brave enough to try it out!

MOLE

Mole is a spicy-and-sweet sauce made from chocolate that translates. The dark brown sauce gets its heat from chiles, but also has a touch of sweetness from the cacao, almonds, and peanuts often added. The sauce is topped with sesame seeds.

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