Things That Matter

Ten Indigenous Musicians Were Ambushed And Shot Dead In Guerrero, Mexico—Authorities Believe The Perpetrators Were Part Of A Drug Cartel

Ten indigenous musicians were shot dead and burned in an ambush in western Mexico.

The horrible crime is believed to have been carried out by a drug cartel, that has been terrorizing indigenous groups in Guerrero Mexico for nearly 20 years.

The members of the Nahua indigenous group were returning from a party when they were attacked in the town of Chilapa in Guerrero state.

The victims, part of the Sensación Musical group, were returning to their Alcozacán community on Friday after playing the day before, said David Sánchez Luna, co-ordinator of the regional indigenous group known as CRAC-PF. Gunmen attacked their vehicle at around 14:00 local time in Mexcalcingo, he said. The victims, all men, were aged between 15 and 42.

The ‘Los Ardillos cartel’, which frequently targets indigenous people in the area, was blamed for the attack.

For over 20 years, Los Ardillos have been trafficking drugs in the mountainous region of Guerrero —throughout this time they have infamously extorted and kidnapped locals to consolidate their power and domain.

The rural ex-cop Celso Ortega Rosas, nicknamed ‘La Ardilla’, was involved in the business of poppy crops in the region of Quechultenango Guerrero, and he is the founder of the criminal group.

According to a 2015 article on El Universal, los Ardillos started kidnapping and extorting people. They gave their victims a 24 hour period to vacate their homes before taking possession of the property.  In 2008, Celso Ortega Rosas was detained for the kidnapping of a woman, the homicide of two agents of the former ‘Subprocuraduría de Investigación Especializada en Delincuencia Organizada (SEIDO)’ a body that has since dissolved and was focused on undercover investigations in the center of Guerrero state.

When the bodies of the victims were found, they were beyond recognition.

After authorities refused to release them to the families, hundreds of indigenous people blocked a road on Friday night, according to La Jornada newspaper.

Authorities shared the names of the deceased victims.

The men who lost their lives were: José Julio y Cándido Fiscaleño Hilario; Crescenciano Migueleño Coapango; Israel Tolentino Ahuelican; Israel Mendoza Pasado; Regino Fiscaleño Chautla; Antonio Mendoza Tolentino; Lorenzo Linares Jiménez; Juan Joaquín; y Marcos Fiscaleño Baltazar.

The Guerrero prosecutor’s office said it was investigating the case.

Guerrero is one of Mexico’s most violent states, where drug gangs fight for control of trafficking routes to the Pacific and other parts of the country. Los Ardillos have been linked to dozens of deaths in recent months, including many indigenous people, according to local media.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has opted for a non-confrontational approach to the cartel.

Focusing, instead, on tackling inequality central to his efforts under a policy dubbed “abrazos, no balazos” – hugs not bullets. But this policy has come under fire after a number of high-profile attacks, including an ambush in which nine members of a Mormon community were killed. The president vowed to create a new National Guard to tackle violence, but few have signed up to the force amid fear of being killed on the job.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Smugglers Are Tagging U.S.-Bound Migrants With Color Coded Wristbands And Here’s Why

Things That Matter

Smugglers Are Tagging U.S.-Bound Migrants With Color Coded Wristbands And Here’s Why

WENDELL ESCOTO/AFP via Getty Images

As the United States experiences a so-called surge of people attempting to enter the U.S., human traffickers and smugglers are working double time as they try to capitalize on the increased movements.

Cartels and human traffickers have long run their smuggling operations like a legitimate business but they’ve only got more advanced in how they move people across the border region and one key tool: color-coded bracelets. These bracelets almost act as passports for migrants to safely cross a cartel’s territory without interference or threats of violence. But what do these bracelets mean and how are they fueling the problem of human trafficking?

Plastic bracelets are being used by cartels to identify migrants in their territory. 

U.S. border agents carried out nearly 100,000 apprehensions or rapid expulsions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in February, which is the highest monthly total since mid-2019. With the increase in people attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, cartels are managing this migration of people over their territory and trying to make money off the humanitarian crisis. 

Many cartels have implemented a color-coded bracelet system that identifies those migrants who have paid for permission to cross their territory. In the Rio Grande Valley sector, Border Patrol agents have recently encountered immigrants wearing the bracelets during several apprehensions, Matthew Dyman, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told Reuters.

The “information on the bracelets represents a multitude of data that is used by smuggling organizations, such as payment status or affiliation with smuggling groups,” Dyman said.

The color-coded system isn’t totally understood.

Credit: ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images

Migrants can pay thousands of dollars for the journey to the United States and human smugglers have to pay off drug cartels to move people through parts of Mexico. This is a money-making operation and cartels want to pay close attention to who has paid. The bracelets may just be a new way to keep track.

Criminal groups operating in northern Mexico, however, have long used systems to log which migrants have already paid for the right to be in gang-controlled territory, as well as for the right to cross the border into the United States, according to migration experts. In fact, in 2019, smugglers kept tabs on rapidly arriving Central American migrants by double checking the names and IDs of migrants before they got off the bus to make sure they had paid. 

One man, a migrant in Reynosa – across the border from McAllen, Texas – who declined to give his name for fear of retaliation, showed Reuters a picture of a purple wristband he was wearing. He told them that he had paid $500 to a criminal group in the city after he arrived from Honduras to ensure that he wasn’t kidnapped or extorted. He said once migrants or their smugglers have paid for the right to cross the river, which is also controlled by criminal groups, they receive another bracelet.

“This way we’re not in danger, neither us nor the ‘coyote,’” he told Reuters.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Here’s Why Mexico’s Feminists Are Now Considered The Country’s Political Opposition

Things That Matter

Here’s Why Mexico’s Feminists Are Now Considered The Country’s Political Opposition

CLAUDIO CRUZ/AFP via Getty Images

For years now, Mexico has seen a burgeoning feminist coalition that is working to shine a light on the country’s severe record on women’s rights. However, since the presidency of Andres Manuel López Obradador (AMLO), that coalition has grown into a powerful movement that is pushing back against much of the dangerous rhetoric and policies of President AMLO. 

With AMLO’s continued support of a party official accused of rape and his denial of the widespread violence against women in his country, millions of women have had enough and are making their voices heard in opposition to the president and his misogynistic beliefs.

Women say that AMLO has made them public enemy number one.

For weeks now, the president – commonly known as Amlo – has faced mounting anger over a candidate for governor from his party who faces five accusations of sexual abuse, including rape. The disgust has spread to prominent women in the party, who last month called on its leadership to remove the candidate.

This feminist activism has become the country’s most powerful opposition voice against the popular president, a leftist who swept into office in 2018 promising to rid the country of its entrenched corruption and lead a social transformation.

While Amlo has appointed women to powerful posts, including much of his cabinet, his policies have failed to address the pervasive violence that kills more than 10 women a day and forces many more to live in fear.

AMLO has refused to stop supporting a party member accused of rape.

Despite the outrage, AMLO has refused to drop his support for the candidate and although the party has decided to reconsider his candidacy, he has not been barred from running for office with the same party. Given the movement’s focus on violence against women, the choice of Félix Salgado Macedonio to run for governor of Guerrero seemed almost a deliberate provocation.

In a letter to party leaders last month, 500 Morena supporters, including prominent female senators, wrote: “It is clear to us that in Morena there is no place for abusers” and called for Salgado Macedonio to be removed. But AMLO has repeatedly said that it is up to the people of Guerrero, where the candidate is popular, to decide.

And AMLO has repeatedly dismissed concerns of female activists.

Instead of acknowledging their concerns, he has suggested that women’s groups are being manipulated by his conservative enemies. He even cast doubt on the rising rates of domestic violence registered during the pandemic lockdown, suggesting that most emergency calls were fake.

“He has placed the feminist movement as public enemy No 1,” said Arussi Unda, the spokeswoman for Las Brujas del Mar, a feminist collective based in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz that organized a women’s strike a year ago after International Women’s Day.

“We are not asking for crazy things,” she said. “We’re asking that women get to work, that women aren’t killed and girls aren’t raped. It’s not insane, not eccentric, it’s human rights.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com