Things That Matter

AMLO Was Recently Sworn In As Mexico’s New President And Already Delivered On A Campaign Promise

Mexico has sworn in their newest president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has vowed to bring an end to corruption, chronic poverty, and extreme violence that have plagued the country. One of his first acts as president will be creating a truth commission on to re-examine the case of 43 students whose disappearance in 2014. The case has come to represent the countless Mexicans who’ve vanished in a decade-long drug war. The Mexican people have been demnading answers for years and López Obrador is promising answers.

The 2014 case of missing students has come to symbolize the violence and corruption that has been seen throughout Mexico for over a decade.

The 43 students, who were studying to be teachers, disappeared in September 2014 from the city of Iguala after local police attacked the buses they were riding on their way to a protest. Survivors say police started shooting at unarmed students. The government of then-President Enrique Peña Nieto claimed that the students were handed over to a local drug gang, Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors), which killed and burned their bodies in a garbage dump.

Yet the Mexican government didn’t provide sufficient evidence to prove their claims. An international team of forensic scientists also contradicted the government report, stating that suspects had been tortured to obtain testimonies. In total, six people were fatally shot and 43 student teachers haven’t been found. To this day the remains of only one student have been identified. The murders have become a symbol of the corruption, dangers, and widespread disappearances throughout Mexico.

One of President López Obrador campaign promises is to re-examine the 2014 incident and has vowed to stop this type of senseless violence.

At a press conference, President López Obrador posed with the parents of the missing students, who displayed photos of their young ones, and promised an end to impunity and begin a wide-ranging investigation.

“The whole government is going to help with this plan and I can assure you that there will be no impunity either in this sad and painful case or in any other,” he told reporters.

The commission will include the parents of the 43 students, their lawyers and representatives from the interior, foreign and finance ministries, along with experts for the investigation. The commission will be led by Deputy Secretary Alejandro Encinas, who is Mexico’s sub-secretary for human rights as well as migration. The commission will begin a new investigation under a special prosecutor’s and will look at all leads, including those that were ignored by the former Mexican government.

Grieving families spoke up at the news conference about how the election of President López Obrador gives hope.

The truth commission will shine new light on the 4-year-old unsolved case that has left many families looking for answers. These families say they’ve been let down by the former Mexican government by not fully investigating the case and not using all available evidence.

“We ask you [López Obrador], as a father, to help us, to pull us out of this dumpster where Peña Nieto left us, and for you to gain the trust of all Mexicans, because we don’t trust anyone anymore,” María Martínez, the mother of one of the missing students, told Mexico Daily News. “We ask the rest of the country to put themselves in our shoes for just one day, for them to feel what it is to have a loved one missing, It’s not only our 43, there are thousands of other families suffering.”

The truth commission will be one of President López Obrador’s first orders but it might also be one of his most important.

For many Mexicans, the truth commission represents part of a new chapter in Mexico, where leadership has deceived and let down many for some time. President López Obrador was elected off a wave of anger about violence and corruption and has already fulfilled one of his campaigns promises to create the commission. Whether any of these families find any answers or clues to what happened to their loved ones is another question.

“I hope that we will soon know the truth. That there’s justice and an example is set so never again human rights are violated in our country,” Pres. Lopez Obrador said at the press conference. “So that no other Mexican suffers the disappearance of their children.”


READ: Mexico’s Outgoing President Is Honoring Jared Kushner With One Of Mexico’s Highest Honors

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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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