Things That Matter

Journalist Found Dead In Mexico, Becomes 12th Killed This Year, After Criticizing Local Authorities

There is terrible news out of Mexico where the body of journalist Nevith Condés Jaramillo was found dead on the evening of August 24 in a home in the municipality of Tejupilco. Condes was a well-known journalist in the state who ran the local news site, El Observatorio del Sur, and was also an announcer on a community radio station. Reports say that Condes was found dead as a result of being stabbed multiple times, according to state prosecutor who made the announcement on Saturday. The murder case is currently being treated as a homicide as investigators look for any suspects. 

The 42-year-old would publish stories and news reports that caused tensions with the local government, this resulted in various threats back in June and November. Condes would eventually request federal protection because of these ongoing threats but reportedly didn’t comply with some procedures due to certain bureaucratic procedures involved. He becomes the third journalist killed in Mexico this August and the twelfth journalist killed in the country this year alone, according to Mexico’s human rights watchdog. 

The killing adds to a growing list of reporter deaths in one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the press.

Credit: @drconsultores / Twitter

The Mexican National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) denounced the killing of Condes in a public statement. The organization is calling for an independent and thorough investigation into this latest death.

“Violence against journalists, in all its forms, is one of the main obstacles for our country to consolidate itself as a democracy, hence the need for the authorities of the three levels of government to focus on the prevention, protection and timely investigation of these facts, the statement said. “With this homicide, there are already 153 journalists killed since 2000, and 12 so far in 2019.”

As of now, human rights defenders are asking authorities of Tejupilco to protect the family of the murdered journalist and requested that the “possible relationship of the crime with their journalistic activity” be looked into and fully investigated. 

There has been an outpouring of reactions to the senseless murder on social media from fellow journalists who are hoping to see an end of this trend. 

Credit: @notociasmundo2020 / Twitter

There has been an outpouring on anger and sadness since the news of Condes’s murder broke last week. Many journalists in Mexico and around the world have chimed in on the tragedy calling for immediate action. 

“All our solidarity with the family and colleagues of the Mexican journalist #NevithCondesJaramillo murdered. Without secure journalism and decent and long-lasting jobs, democracy corrodes in its foundations. Populism began destroying serious journalism,” Fernando Vidal, a fellow Mexican journalist tweeted. 

The latest journalist murder underscores the growing dangers for media members in the country who are being attacked in record numbers. 

Credit: @univ_english / Twitter

Advocacy group, Reporters Without Borders, which releases annual rankings of the world’s most dangerous countries for news media, placed Mexico alongside war-torn Syria and Afghanistan. The country has been plagued with ongoing drug and gang violence since 2006. Murders in the country have spiked in the first half of this year and at this current pace, it will most likely be the highest on record, according to official data.

Just last month there were similar murders in Mexico that left three journalists killed within a week. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent non-profit organization, condemned the killings and called on Mexico to take action on the growing problem. 

“These two brutal killings within days of each other are the tragic consequence of Mexico’s failure to seriously address impunity in attacks on the press,” the group said in a statement. 

The spiraling violence underscores the challenges President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has faced since taking office in December with promises and initiatives to reduce violence in the country ravaged by notorious drug traffickers. The violence that has been linked to drug trafficking and political corruption is growing rampant in Mexico with many murders going unpunished.

“Collusion between officials and organized crime poses a grave threat to journalists’ safety and cripples the judicial system at all levels,” the RSF said in a statement. “As a result, Mexico is sinking ever deeper into a spiral of violence and impunity and continues to be Latin America’s most dangerous country for reporters.”

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Mexico Wants To Be The Hub Of Latin America’s Space Industry And This Is Their Incredible Plan

Things That Matter

Mexico Wants To Be The Hub Of Latin America’s Space Industry And This Is Their Incredible Plan

Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/Getty

Although the world is still struggling with how best to contain the Coronavirus pandemic, many governments are forging ahead with long term goals and development programs.

One of the most important to new programs to launch in Mexico is central to its economic and scientific future – its future in space. Together with other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (some of which already have their own independent agencies), Mexico is looking to become the leader in the region when it comes to space research and exploration.

The country recently announced its intentions for just such an agency, that they hope would be based in Mexico with foreign capital providing the seed money to get the project off the ground.

Mexico announced its intention to head up a Latin American and Caribbean space agency.

Mexico has launched an ambitious new project – creating a Latin American Space and Caribbean Space Agency that would facilitate the sharing of satellite images and aims to observe the planet. The agency would be dedicated to earth observation, satellite image sharing and multi-sector dialogue.

The project was presented by Javier López Casarín, Honorary President of the Technical Council of Knowledge and Innovation of the Mexican Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AMEXCID). López Casarín attended the meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), where he presented the project for the creation of the Latin American and Caribbean Space Agency, an entity that will be at the same level as other agencies (think NASA and the European Space Agency) of world space research with which it hopes to exchange information.

As part of the same meeting, the Latin American coordinators highlighted the role of Mexico in charge of the presidency of the community of Latin American states and appreciated the proposal to create a joint space agency.

Mexico has had a space agency of its own since 2010 but they’re looking to expand the operations.

Mexico has had its own space agency, the Agencia Espacial Mexicana, since 2010. Plus, several other countries across Latin America and the Caribbean have their own similar departments that over see satellites, information gathering, meteorological date, etc.

Mexico’s space agency has been tasked with carrying out study programs, research, and academic support, however, its duties have never included the aim of space exploration with its own infrastructure.

One of the agency’s key objectives is to help increase internet connectivity across the region.

In 2019, the Agencia Espacial Mexicana announced it was developing its space program around the needs of Mexican society – that it would be for the social benefit.

Among other techonoligcal solutions, the government has made it a core principle to help expand access to Internet across the country. By merging various space agencies into one, this increased Internet connectivity will likely spread to other countries in Latin America.

Internet connectivity rates vary from around 27% in El Salvador to close to 80% in Brazil – so bringing that wide gap is seen as critical for sustained development in the region.

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The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico

Culture

The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico

Tyrone Turner / Getty Images

Latinos make up the largest minority group in the country, yet our history is so frequently left out of classrooms. From Chicano communities in Texas and California to Latinos in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and the Underground Railroad – which also had a route into Mexico – Latinos have helped shape and advance this country.

And as the U.S. is undergoing a racial reckoning around policing and systemic racism, Mexico’s route of the Underground Railroad is getting renewed attention – particularly because Mexico (for the very first time in history) has counted its Afro-Mexican population as its own category in this year’s census.

The Underground Railroad also ran south into Mexico and it’s getting renewed attention.

Most of us are familiar with stories of the Underground Railroad. It was a network of clandestine routes and safe houses established in the U.S. during the early to mid-19th century. It was used by enslaved African Americans to escape into free states and Canada. It grew steadily until the Civil War began, and by one estimate it was used by more than 100,000 enslaved people to escape bondage.

In a story reported on by the Associated Press, there is renewed interest in another route on the Underground Railroad, one that went south into Mexico. Bacha-Garza, a historian, dug into oral family histories and heard an unexpected story: ranches served as a stop on the Underground Railroad to Mexico. Across Texas and parts of Louisiana, Alabama, and Arkansas, scholars and preservation advocates are working to piece together the story of a largely forgotten part of American history: a network that helped thousands of Black slaves escape to Mexico.

According to Maria Hammack, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin studying the passage of escapees who crossed the borderlands for sanctuary in Mexico, about 5,000 to 10,000 people broke free from bondage into the southern country. Currently, no reliable figures currently exist detailing how many left to Mexico, unlike the more prominent transit into Canada’s safe haven.

Mexico abolished slavery a generation before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Thirty-four years before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, in 1829, Mexican President Vicente Guerrero, who was of mixed background, including African heritage, abolished slavery in the country. The measure freed an estimated 200,000 enslaved Africans Spain forcefully brought over into what was then called New Spain and would later open a pathway for Blacks seeking freedom in the Southern U.S.

And he did so while Texas was still part of the country, in part prompting white, slave-holding immigrants to fight for independence in the Texas Revolution. Once they formed the Republic of Texas in 1836, they made slavery legal again, and it continued to be legal when Texas joined the U.S. as a state in 1845.

With the north’s popular underground railroad out of reach for many on the southern margins, Mexico was a more plausible route to freedom for these men and women.

Just like with the northern route, helping people along the route was dangerous and could land you in serious trouble.

Credit: Library of Congress / Public Domain

Much like on the railway’s northern route into Canada, anyone caught helping African-Americans fleeing slavery faced serious and severe consequences.

Slaveholders were aware that people were escaping south, and attempted to get Mexico to sign a fugitive slave treaty that would, like the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that demanded free states to return escapees, require Mexico to deliver those who had left. Mexico, however, refused to sign, contending that all enslaved people were free once they reached Mexican soil. Despite this, Hammock said that some Texans hired what was called “slave catchers” or “slave hunters” to illegally cross into the country, where they had no jurisdiction, to kidnap escapees.

“The organization that we know today as the Texas Rangers was born out of an organization of men that were slave hunters,” Hammack, who is currently researching how often these actions took place, told the AP. “They were bounty hunters trying to retrieve enslaved property that crossed the Rio Grande for slave owners and would get paid according to how far into Mexico the slaves were found.”

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