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? 

Indigenous People In Guatemala Marched On Their Capitol In Support Of Evo Morales

Things That Matter

Indigenous People In Guatemala Marched On Their Capitol In Support Of Evo Morales

evoespueblo / Twitter

South America’s poorest country, Bolivia, is in the midst of a political crisis, and Guatemala’s indigenous people are marching in solidarity with ousted Bolivian President Evo Morales. After the Guatemalan government joined the United States in recognizing extreme right self-appointed Jeanine Anez as the interim president of Bolivia, Guatemala’s indigenous people expressed their outrage in an organized protest. Hundreds of indigenous people marched in Guatemala’s capital Thursday to protest the change of government, which they view as a coup d’etat of Bolivia’s first indigenous president. With a “Brother Evo, Guatemala is with you” banner in hand, the protesters marched toward a heavily guarded US embassy. The next day, Morales announced that he won’t be “taking part in new elections.”

Before Morales rose to the presidency, he was a campesino activist, representing indigenous traditions and customs under attack by the US government. “We are repudiating the discriminatory and racist coup d’etat that took place in Bolivia,” said Mauro Vay, march organizer and head of Guatemala’s Rural Development Committee. 

Protesters proudly waved the wiphala flags, an indigenous symbol of solidarity.

CREDIT: @UKREDREVOLUTION / TWITTER

This man held an image that told the story of a thousand words. As a child, Evo Morales’ family were subsistence farmers, which allowed him to enjoy a basic education. He later moved to grow coca, the raw plant used to make cocaine. During the U.S.’ “War on Drugs,” coca farmers were under attack. Morales rose to defend the campesinos from what he called an imperialist violation of indigenous culture. His protests may have led to several arrests, but his notoriety grew to elect him to Congress as the leader of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party. 

In Paraguay, Bolivian ex-patriates went up against the police to rehang the wiphala flag at the Bolivian embassy.

CREDIT: @WILL_J_COSTA / TWITTER

Several indigenous residents of Paraguay arrived at the Bolivian embassy to hang the Wiphala flag, which was reportedly taken down. They faced police resistance but eventually succeeded. The next day, the flag was removed. 

In 2005, Morales ran against former President Carlos Mesa and won, becoming the first indigenous president of Bolivia. 

CREDIT: @BRETGUSTAFSON / TWITTER

Then, it gets murky. By the time his first term was over, MAS rewrote their constitution to lift the one-term limit on presidents. Morales ran for a second term and won. Even though he claimed he wouldn’t run for a third term, Morales claimed the first term didn’t count because it was completed under the old constitution.  So he ran again and won for the third time. In October 2019, Morales ran for his fourth term, and won by a small margin, prompting a recount.

Just 24 hours into the recount, Morales ordered the recount to an end and declared himself president over his opponent, former president Mesa. the Organization of American States (OAS) conducted an audit that flagged the election as possibly fraudulent.

The OAS is not in the service of the people of Latin America, less so the social movements. The OAS is at the service of the North American empire,” Morales later said. Still, protests erupted across the country.

In a quickly developing government coup, military chiefs removed Morales.

CREDIT: @FAFASCHMITT / TWITTER

On Nov. 10, General Williams Kaliman, the commander of Bolivia’s armed forces, decided, along with other military chiefs, that Morales should step down. Morales tweeted, “I denounce to the world and the Bolivian people that a police officer publicly announced that he is instructed to execute an illegal arrest warrant against me; likewise, violent groups assaulted my home. A coup destroys the rule of law.” He added, “After looting and trying to set fire to my house in Villa Victoria, vandalism groups of the Mesa and Camacho coup docked my home in the Magisterio neighborhood of Cochabamba. I am very grateful to my neighbors, who stopped those raids. A coup destroys peace.”

Mexico offered him asylum and sent a plane to escort Morales to Mexico City.

CREDIT: @EVOESPUEBLO / TWITTER

“This was my first night after leaving the presidency, forced by the coup of Mesa and Camacho with the help of the Police. There I remembered my times as a leader. Very grateful to my brothers from the federations of the Tropic of Cochabamba for providing security and care,” Morales tweeted. Right-wing Christian opponent, Luis Fernando Camacho, also called “Bolivia’s Bolsonaro,” led violent protests against Morales and his Indigenous supporters, burning Bolivia’s Indigenous Wiphala flag. 

Mexico, Cuba, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Argentina have maintained that his removal from office was a coup. The United States, led by a right-wing president, has recognized Bolivia’s interim right-wing president as valid.

Morales announced Friday that he won’t run for president in the reelection “for the sake of democracy.”

CREDIT: @VERSOBOOKS / TWITTER

Morales resigned Sunday after protests left four people dead. “For the sake of democracy, if they don’t want me to take part, I have no problem not taking part in new elections,” Morales told Reuters while remaining in asylum. “I just wonder why there is so much fear of Evo,” he offered.

READ: A US-Backed Opposition Leader Has Declared Herself President Of Bolivia Amid Outrage At Her Comments About Indigenous Bolivians

An Indigenous Group In Panama Holds The Guinness Record For World’s Largest Patacón

Culture

An Indigenous Group In Panama Holds The Guinness Record For World’s Largest Patacón

elpataconpty / Instagram

After a coordinated six-month effort, Panama’s Emberá de Ipetí indigenous community broke the Guinness World Record for the largest patacón in the world. How many plátanos does it take to make the worlds largest was that patacón, you ask? Weighing at 245 pounds and measuring over 11 feet in diameter, the World’s Largest Patacón required 1,200 plátanos and 330 gallons of frying oil. The long-anticipated event drew in a sold-out crowd of 700 celebrators who took part in Emberá traditions, dance, and plenty of comida.

“We no longer want to be this statistic of vulnerability,” Emberá de Ipetí’s community leader, Sara Omi, told CNN. “We are rich in knowledge and that’s what we’re demonstrating here today.”

As visitors arrived for “Patacón Day,” they were invited to participate in a hand-washing ritual.

Credit: ELPATACONPTY / Instagram

At the entrance of the events, guests could participate in this Emberá ritual that uses plants to cleanse “malas vibras,” or bad vibes. “The plants we use to wash our hands has a lot to do with our worldview,” Sara Omi said. “For example, if you arrive at your home and bring bad malas vibras, washing your hands will take away those malas vibras. You become more open for everything that comes.” Then, the guests could go ahead and dance and eat with everyone else.

Over 100 volunteers worked to make individual tostones that were spread across an enormous steel mold.

CREDIT: ELPATACONPTY / INSTAGRAM

It takes a lot of labor to peel, chop, fry, grind, knead and finally assemble 1,200 plátanos. Volunteers would fry individual plátanos in this enormous, 330-gallon vat of oil, and bring it to the steel mold for others to assemble. Then, the crowd gathered around to watch the tense moment that volunteers carefully carried 245 pounds of plátanos back to this vat of oil. Then, it was dropped into the oil for its final fry, and lifted out of the vat to become the world’s largest patacón. This wasn’t their first rodeo either. It took six months for the 134 Emberá de Ipetí indigenous volunteers to practice and perfect the enormous feat. 

According to Carlos Tapia, the official adjudicator of the Guinness World Records, there were three requirements to ensure the attempt would be a success. 

CREDIT: ELPATACONPTY / INSTAGRAM

The first was that the patacón remained an intact, single patacón. It could not break once it was removed from the oil. Secondly, there had to be several professionals present. A metrologist could certify that the final weight was at least 220 pounds to break the previous record. There also had to be a cultural expert present to ensure the patacón was true to its roots. A health and hygiene inspector was also present to ensure that the food was prepared in such a way that it didn’t violate any health codes. 

The final requirement to break the record was to make sure none of the food goes to waste.

CREDIT: ELPATACONPTY / INSTAGRAM

We love that, Guinness World Records. That means the pressure isn’t off once the patacón is flawlessly assembled and beats the previous weight record. Then, came the universal tradition: eat as much food as you possibly can, and then have seconds. With a sold-out crowd of folks there to witness history, it goes without saying that the Emberá de Ipetí pulled off the feat. Maybe it was because the record was broken on the auspicious Oct. 14, or World Food Day. While folks were feasting, they could also support the women artisans selling their crafts, entirely inspired and created from the nature surrounding them.

The Patacón has become a symbol of unity and the greatness of indigenous peoples and of Panama.

CREDIT: ELPATACONPTY / INSTAGRAM

“I would like to tell everyone who is here, my perfect Patacón staff, those who have been part of a little piece of patacón and all the people who joined this dream, never forget that, together, we can achieve what we set out to do,” Patacón director, Sabrina Naimark, told the crowd. “We managed to unite as a country, make the Emberá de Ipetí Indigenous community visible, and achieve the Guinness World Record Holder Record so that the world knows how big Panama is and what we are able to do when we put soul, passion, and dedication to an idea. That idea became a reality, creating a true social impact in Panama and the world.”

READ: Kanye West Fans Are Upset After Paying $55 For Food At His Sunday Service Concert Only To Get Bad Food