Things That Matter

‘El Chapo’ Guzman Wants To Give His Giant Drug Fortune To Indigenous Mexicans

Convicted Mexican cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman wants his drug fortune to be redistributed amongst Mexico’s indigenous people. Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador agrees. El Chapo forfeited $12.7 billion to the United States following his 10-count indictment and conviction of racketeering and drug trafficking crimes. 

You can’t really argue with President Lopez Obrador or El Chapo on this front. That money was made and harvested in Mexico, and presumably many Mexican citizens were exploited and harmed in the process. If the money is being confiscated, it isn’t unreasonable that El Chapo pays back those damages to the people he hurt. Nor is it so farfetched that the money is redistributed for the betterment of Mexican citizens. Moreover, wouldn’t it be nice to see how angry it makes President Trumpito? Puts a smile on your face, doesn’t it? 

Could $12.7 billion really be given to Indigenous Mexicans? 

In July this summer, US authorities acquired a court order that forced El Chapo to forfeit $12.7 billion earned as a drug lord. However, the 62-year-old has never admitted to earning billions of dollars (for the obvious legal reasons). Moreover, it is merely a calculated estimate based on average drug prices. However, the United States believes the sum is roughly the amount the Sinola Cartel leader earned from trafficking cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. 

“This is largely an academic exercise as the government has never located or identified a penny of this $12.7 billion in proceeds supposedly generated by Mr. Guzman,” said Jeffrey Lichtman, a lawyer for Guzman.

Nevertheless, his lawyer Jose Gonzalez Meza says if that money exists, El Chapo has thoughts. 

“He says, well, if that money exists … that money does not belong to the United States; it belongs to Mexico,” Gonzalez Meza told Reuters. “And he asks for President Lopez Obrador to allocate (the money) to the indigenous communities.”

El Chapo began floating the idea from the Colorado maximum-security prison he is held in to his mother and sisters in August, according to the lawyer.

Who is El Chapo? 

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán is thought to have been the most powerful drug trafficker in the world. A Mexican drug lord of the Sinaloa Cartel, El Chapo was first captured in Guatemala and extradited to Mexico in 1993. Following a 20-year prison sentence for murder and trafficking, El Chapo was able to bribe prison guards and escape in 2001. 

For over a decade he was a fugitive until being recaptured again in 2014. In 2015, he escaped once again through a tunnel in his jail cell. Following a shoot out in 2016, Mexican authorities were able to extradite him to the United States where he had indictments in over seven U.S. federal courts. It wasn’t until 2019, that El Chapo was found guilty on at least 10 charges including homicide, money laundering, and drug trafficking with intent to distribute. El Chapo was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years and was ordered to forfeit more than $12.7 billion. 

A different kind of “Robin Hood.”

Earlier this year, President Lopez Obrador launched the creation of a Robin Hood-like institute that would redistribute nefarious-gotten wealth back to Mexican citizens. He supported El Chapo’s idea. 

“I liked the declaration. I don’t know if it’s true. I can’t verify it, but if it’s as it came out in the media, that a lawyer says Guzman wants his wealth to be given to Mexico’s indigenous communities, I think it’s good,” he said.

The President simply wants any Mexican criminal forfeitures to help the people who were most hurt by them. He said the Mexican government would take “all necessary legal actions” to ensure this would happen. 

“Also, we have started a process because we want everything that’s confiscated in the United States from criminals or suspected criminals from Mexico is returned to Mexico,” he added.

Hope for indigenous Mexicans.

In the 1970s, President Lopez Obrador worked with indigenous communities in Tabasco. Mexico’s indigenous population continues to be the most marginalized in the country and Lopez Obrador has vowed to improve conditions for them. 

According to a census conducted by the National Council for Evaluation of Social Development Policy, 71.9% of Mexico’s indigenous population lived in extreme poverty in 2016. Around 71.3% of indigenous people reported earning minimum wage or less, while 19.8% of indigenous people between ages 30 and 64 could not read or write. These disparities are largely attributed to the inaccessibility of food, social welfare, and basic shelter services. 

While El Chapo’s fortune and how much of it the United States actually has, remains somewhat of a mystery, we know there is at least some money. This man wouldn’t be considered the most powerful drug lord in the world otherwise. Using that money to enrich Mexican citizens feels a lot more like justice than letting the wealthiest nation in the world keep it to do what… pay for a border wall most people don’t want? 

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Indigenous Purépecha Woman Gets Full Ride Scholarship To Attend Harvard

Things That Matter

Indigenous Purépecha Woman Gets Full Ride Scholarship To Attend Harvard

In just a few months, college freshmen will be descending on their campuses across the country. One of these students is Elizabeth Esteban who is the first person from her indigenous tribe in Mexico to be accepted to an Ivy League school.

Elizabeth Esteban is going to Harvard and it is a major deal.

Esteban is a member of the Purépecha tribe, an indigenous community from Michoacán, Mexico. Esteban is the first member of her tribe to be accepted into an Ivy League university, where indigenous representation remains small. Esteban’s parents work as farm laborers in the eastern Coachella Valley in California.

“Well I felt proud and excited, every sort of emotion because I never would have believed that a person like me, would be accepted to a prestigious university,” Esteban told NBC News.

Not only was Esteban accepted into Harvard, a prestigious university, she also received a full-ride scholarship. Esteban’s family is part of a community of hundreds of Purépecha people who relocated to the easter Coachella Valley in search of work and a better life.

Esteban plans to study political science.

Dr. Ruiz Speaks with State of the Union Guest, Elizabeth from Desert Mirage High School.

Join me for a live conversation with my guest for tonight's State of the Union, Elizabeth from Desert Mirage High School!

Posted by Congressman Raul Ruiz, MD on Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Esteban wants to make a difference in her community. As an indigenous woman, Esteban wants to break barriers that are set on women in her community. She told NBC News that her community expects for women to stay home and be stay-at-home mothers.

The incoming Harvard freshmen was discouraged from applying to Harvard at one point because of her community’s unreliable internet connection. Esteban lives in a mobile home with her family in Mecca and struggled to complete course work. The internet went down in the middle of her Harvard interview and it almost prevented her from applying to the university.

“Well, I felt proud and excited, every sort of emotion because I never would have believed that a person like me, would be accepted to a prestigious university,” Esteban told NBC News about being accepted to Harvard on a full scholarship.

READ: California, Harvard, MIT File Lawsuits To Challenge Government’s International Student Visa Announcement

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Things That Matter

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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