Things That Matter

Cartels Are Targeting Migrants Forced To Stay In Mexico Under Trump’s ‘Remain In Mexico’ Policy

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’d know that the Trump administration has had the bright idea of forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their cases are heard in the US federal courts. While there are definitely parts of Mexico that would be great to stay in for a week on break, this is no holiday for these asylum seekers. In an effort to profit from some of the most vulnerable people in Mexico, cartel violence has specifically targeted the areas where migrants are being temporarily housed. 

The violence has gotten so bad that some have abandoned their asylum applications.

Instagram / @paulratje

At this point, it’s hard to keep up with what’s happened so far to threaten the lives of migrants. In Nuevo Laredo alone, there’s an entire laundry list of incidents that have made asylum seekers uneasy. Last week, shooting broke out between gang members on the main boulevard to Nuevo Laredo’s airport. An educated guess would say that The Cartel of the Northeast was responsible for the trouble, since they dominate that area of town. It’s not uncommon to see them riding around in armored cars emblazoned with “Tropas del Infierno” across the sides. It’s their constant presence that keeps migrants constantly anxious and alert.

The government is offering bus trips to other cities outside the border zone.

Instagram / @altavozmx

In an effort to alleviate tensions, the government has provided free bus trips for asylum seekers to places such as Monterrey and Tapachula, which are around 3 and 36 hours away from Nuevo Laredo, respectively. However, the trips have been disrupted by gang members, who take it upon themselves to stop the buses and abduct the passengers. Abductions give cartels hostages that they can use to blackmail relatives in exchange for payouts. It’s clear that it’s not safe for migrants to stay in this environment. And apparently, it’s barely even safe to leave through provided channels. This has resulted in asylum seekers abandoning their applications to return to the relative safety of home – despite the fact that the dangers there had prompted them to leave in the first place.

Aid providers say the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP, are to blame.

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So far, the MPP have resulted in approximately 35,000 migrants being sent back to Mexican border cities to wait for their day in court. In fact, 4,500 people have been sent to Nuevo Laredo alone. What essentially happens under the MPP is that, once asylum seekers reach US ports of entry, they are sent back to Mexico with a date to return and make their case for asylum via video link. Migrants can be stuck waiting for that day from anywhere between two to four months.

So why did Mexico agree to the MPP in the first place, when it’s had some very dire outcomes?

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Well, Trump had threatened Mexico with tariffs if they didn’t agree with the MPP. Now, it’s all well and good to say that Mexico could have done a China, and dived head first into a trade war. But Mexico doesn’t have that sort of economic power. Most of its trade is conducted with the US. China, on the other hand, has diversified its trade relationships. As a result, it doesn’t depend on business with the US to keep the Chinese economy running. Mexico, being backed into a corner as it were, had no choice but to agree to the terms of the MPP.

There are a few reasons why the Trump administration has pursued this course of action – and none of them are good.

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There are two main reasons why the Trump administration has developed the MPP: money, and the strict enforcement of immigration law. Where money is concerned – it costs a lot to employ the 150 judges who oversee immigration cases, and whatever other staff and facilities are needed as part of both detaining and processing asylum seekers. It’s must less expensive to just not do that.

With these type of policies, many worry violence could begin to spread.

Instagram / @rebecca_esq

As far as strict enforcement of immigration law … well, we’ve seen a lot of that already with the overflow of inmates at border detention centers, and the exponential increase of ICE raids and arrests. What’s been discussed less by the media is the fact that, in 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions enacted legislation that determined migrants could not apply for asylum based on the threat of domestic or cartel violence, because it’s too hard for the government to verify. So, why even bother allowing migrants to leech off US resources, if you’re pretty much planning to deny their request for asylum anyway?

All of this is great news in light of the agreement that’s in the works between Guatemala and the US. Should it be ratified, Guatemala would be set to be the next Mexico, and also house asylum seekers while they wait for their applications to be reviewed by the US. This could potentially mean a rise in cartel violence in Guatemala, too.

Google Launches Faces Of Frida So You Can Pass The Time Learning About The Artist’s Life

Culture

Google Launches Faces Of Frida So You Can Pass The Time Learning About The Artist’s Life

Google

Few artists have reached the level of fame as Frida Kahlo. The Mexican painter is more than an artist. Kahlo is a point of cultural pride that transcends nationality within the Latino community and unites Latino art lovers in their le of Latin American art. Now, Google, in the time of self-isolation, is giving everyone a chance to learn about the iconic painter.

Google wants to give everyone a chance to learn about Frida Kahlo with its online “Faces of Frida” exhibit.

Credit: Google

Anyone who visits the “Face of Frida” exhibit can browse through the artist’s incredible paintings. Kahlo is one of the most influential artists the world has ever known. Her fame and people’s admiration continue to this day with tributes still appearing around the world for the Mexican artist.

Viewers can decide which museum’s Frida Kahlo collection they want to explore.

Credit: Google

The exhibit is made possible by 32 museums from around the world collaborating to show Frida Kahlo’s impressive and iconic works of art. Museums across four continents shared Kahlo piece from their exhibits with Google to create an exhibit showing more than 800 paintings. Some of the museums include Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico, Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the United States, Nagoya City Art Museum in Japan, Fundación MAPFRE in Spain, and Buenos Aires Graffiti in Argentina.

The interactive exhibit is perfect for all Frida Kahlo and art lovers alike. While 3.4 billion people in the world are on lockdown orders, the incredible virtual exhibit of Kahlo’s work gives people a chance to see works of art they haven’t been able to visit yet.

The exhibit is easy to navigate and some of Kahlo’s works have been collected into their own themed galleries.

Credit: Google

Kahlo is most famous for using her own life as the inspiration for her works of art. The artist often played with the themes of pain and death due to her own near-death experiences. Her tumultuous relationship with Diego Rivera influenced Kahlo’s work depending on where they were in their relationship. The couple was notorious for taking extra-marital lovers throughout their marriage.

“Faces of Frida” also offers art fans a chance to learn about Kahlo through editorial features.

Credit: Google

Kahlo was one of the most revolutionary women in the world. She moved through space unimpeded by society’s views on her gender and place in society. She was politically engaged and held onto a list of values that many still argue over today. Namely, there have been discussions and think pieces about the sudden commercialized usage of Kahlo’s image and what she might have to say about it. As someone who was opposed to capitalism, it seems safe to say she might not have appreciated herself being used for capitalistic gains.

You can visit “Faces of Frida” by clicking here.

READ: This LA Play Explores The Mystery Surrounding Frida Kahlo’s Death, Her Love Affairs, And Her Passion For Art

Diego Luna Talks The Importance Of The Storytelling In ‘Narcos: Mexico’ And Why Mexico City Will Always Be His Home

Entertainment

Diego Luna Talks The Importance Of The Storytelling In ‘Narcos: Mexico’ And Why Mexico City Will Always Be His Home

Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix’s “Narcos: Mexico” Season 2 comes back to continue the story of enigmatic drug lord Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and the subsequent rise and fall of the Guadalajara cartel he founded in the 1970s, with Diego Luna reprising his role as the mysterious Félix Gallardo.

The show depicts how Félix Gallardo’s eloquence and strategic thinking helped him attain a swift rise to the apex of the Mexican drug cartels. 

For a man of which not much is widely known about, Luna reveals in this exclusive interview with mitú how he was able to dive into his character.

When preparing for this role, Luna said there wasn’t as much research material about El Padrino (Félix Gallardo’s alias) compared to the personal stories of other real-life personalities, such as El Chapo. 

“The good thing for me in playing this role is this man was a very discreet person, he understood the power of discretion,” Luna says.

It was important to see what people said about him—what people say or feel when they were around this character, this perception of him helps a lot. I had to do research and see what was a common answer—people talk about how intelligent and precise and strategic he was, and that’s how I wanted to portray and build this character,” Luna told mitú over the phone. 

Season 2 picks up after the murder of DEA agent Kiki Camarena, with Félix Gallardo enjoying political protection at his palatial home in Mexico.

It’s evident in the beginning scenes of this second season that his rags-to-riches story is starting to unravel and a bit of paranoia is starting to set in that he may have a knife (or gun) at his back at any moment. 

A running allegory used by the characters’ dialogues of the Roman Empire’s eventual collapse and Julius Caesar’s ultimate end foreshadows what we all know will happen to Félix Gallardo—his drug empire will eventually collapse in a smoke of cocaine dust. 

From crooked Mexican politicians and cops to ranch hands trying to make extra money delivering cocaine across the border, the show demonstrates the complicity among the cartels and how far the cartels’ reach.

“Narcos: Mexico” attempts to show that good and evil isn’t always black and white. The story highlights the gray area where even those committing corrupt acts are victims, Luna explained. 

“Some of the characters that take action are victims of the whole system,” Luna said in Spanish. 

The side of Mexico shown in “Narcos: Mexico” has been criticized by some as a side of Mexico stereotypically seen in the media.

However, Luna sees it as a side of the country that is real and must be discussed in order to move forward.

“When this season ends, I was 10 to 11 years old [at the time.] That decade was actually ending. It’s interesting to revisit that decade as an adult and research that Mexico my father was trying to hide from me [as a child],” Luna explained.

Luna says that this type of storytelling is important to understanding the fuller picture of Mexico.

The need for this type of storytelling—the stories that put a mirror up to a country to see the darkest side of itself—is vital, regardless of how complex it is to write scripts about all the facets of a country marred by political and judicial corruption. 

“In this case the story is very complex, it’s talking about a corrupt system that allows these stories to happen. We don’t tell stories like that—we simply everything. With this, I had a chance to understand that complexity. The journey of this character is a presentable journey. Power has a downside, and he gets there and he thinks he’s indispensable and clearly he is not,” Luna said. 

Outside of his role on “Narcos,” Luna is a vocal activist and is constantly working to put Mexico’s art and talent on an international stage through his work, vigilantly reminding his audience that Mexico has culture waiting to be explored past the resort walls of Cancún and Cabo. 

“The beauty of Mexico is that there are many Mexicos—it’s a very diverse country. You have the Pacific Coast that is beautiful and vibrant and really cool. By far my favorite beach spots in Mexico are in Oaxaca, and all the region of Baja California. You also have the desert and jungle and Veracruz and you have all the Caribbean coast and the city is to me a place I can’t really escape. Home is Mexico City, and it will always be where most of my love stories are and where I belong,” Luna said in a sort of love note aside to his home country. 

As much as Luna can talk endlessly about his favorite tacos in Mexico City (Tacos El Güero for any inquiring minds) and the gastronomic wonders of its pocket neighborhoods such as la Condesa, he also wants the dialogue around Mexico’s violence to be shown under a spotlight, as searing as it may be. 

“We can’t avoid talking about violence because if we stop, we normalize something that has to change,” Luna said. 

Perhaps “Narcos: Mexico” can bring some introspection and change after all. Let’s hope the politicians are watching.

READ: ‘Narcos: Mexico’ Season 2 Picks Up Where We Left Off With Félix Gallardo And The Guadalajara Cartel