Things That Matter

A 20-Year-Old Slips And Drowns On A Party Boat In A Mexico City Canal

There is heartbreaking news out of the town of Xochimilco in Mexico City where a young man fell off a party boat on Sunday and drowned. Local authorities found the body of José Manuel Romero Reyes, 20, the next day after several hours of searching for the body. According to police, Romero Reyes was partying with some friends for a birthday party on Sunday along the famous and very popular San Cristóbal canal near the Zacapa jetty. The area is a popular tourist attraction as it was originally configured by the ancient Aztecs.

The story went viral on social media as a person captured the exact moment that Romero Reyes fell into the canal. The footage shows a vibrant scene of young people partying in the San Cristóbal canal.

Grainy cell phone footage, captured by a person at the party, shows the moment Romero Reyes, wearing a white t-shirt and fedora hat, fell into the canal. In the video, you can see the young man trying to hop from one boat to another. Another male friend is seen moving from the gondola-like boats as Romero Reyes followed him but didn’t have enough footing and ultimately fell into the dark brown waters. It would take a few seconds for anyone to notice that he was drowning in the water until he suddenly couldn’t be seen due to the dark murky water. 

Within moments, the boat party comes to a halt as people start to realize that someone is drowning. Video shows a frantic scene as multiple people begin reaching into the ancient canal with long wooden sticks attempting to find and save Romero Reyes. Friends began throwing ropes into the canal but there was no sign of him after he fell into the water during the video. 

Now many are looking for answers as to how this young man could have just suddenly drowned with so many people nearby. As of now, police have yet to determine if alcohol was the main factor behind the drowning.

Credit: @retodiariomx / Twitter

According to the local authorities, dozens of beer bottles and other intoxicating drinks, including at least 30 beer cans and multiple empty bottles of rum and whiskey, were found aboard the boats where these young people were partying. Police say there was a heavy presence of alcohol at the scene but have yet to determine if it was a contributing factor to Romero Reyes’s death. 

Local television news in Mexico highlighted the search for Romero Reyes’s body along the canal as authorities stepped up efforts to locate him. A police search team would eventually find Romero Reyes’ body on early Monday morning at approximately 6 a.m.  

The untimely death of the young man has already prompted local officials to make some changes to prevent this accident from ever happening again. According to the Daily Mail,  Xochimilco mayor Juan Carlos Acosta Ruíz made some announcements concerning the safety of people along the historic canals. Starting on Oct. 1, visitors on the canals who board the gondolas will be required to wear a life jacket to ensure their safety on the water. If a person chooses not to wear one, they will then be required to sign a waiver form.

Mayor Ruíz has also made some new adjustments to alcohol laws while on the gondolas. Customers will now be limited to bring only three beers and a liter of liquor when boarding the boats. But when it comes to Micheladas, the popular drink made up of beer and tomato juice, it will now be banned on the canals.  

Friends and family are now reflecting and remembering the life of Romero Reyes as he is laid to rest. 

Credit: @jcarlos-valerio / Twitter

Romero Reyes is currently being veiled in the town of Santa María Nenetzintla, belonging to the municipality of Acajete. His body arrived at the small town just a day after his body was found. Family and friends are now gathering to say their farewells and remembering a life that was tragically taken away way too soon.  

There is expected to an open mass on Wednesday morning where his body will be presented at a local church. His body will then be transferred to a cemetery where it will be buried. Our thoughts and prayers are currently with the family and friends of Romero Reyes. 

READ: Cartels Are Targeting Migrants Forced To Stay In Mexico Under Trump’s ‘Remain In Mexico’ Policy

Mexico City Is The Latest City To Fall Victim To Airbnb’s Gentrification

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Mexico City Is The Latest City To Fall Victim To Airbnb’s Gentrification

Instagram / nurifergar

When we think about Airbnb, we usually think about holidays. Who hasn’t used an Airbnb? Or, at least, who hasn’t at least thought about using an Airbnb? After all, there are so many benefits to booking an Airbnb: you can reserve a spot that suits you – all through an app – and you can directly communicate directly with the owner of your temporary home. Heck, you can even opt in to living with said owner, and getting to know the real niche, hidden gems of a new location. The fact that your feedback on the accuracy of their listing hangs over their head means that Airbnb owners generally have to be accountable. But, not all is well when it comes to the world of Airbnb. Or, should we say, Airbnb is what’s not right, in some places of the world.

Mexico City has really been feeling the impact of gentrification at the hands of Airbnb.

Instagram / @2kadin1sohbet

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about gentrification. Because to be honest, it mostly sounds like a fancy word real estate agents use to convince people to buy up property. And, that’s not too far from the truth. Gentrification is the process where an area – most commonly neighborhoods – become more pricey. This can happen through the introduction of local amenities, property refurbishment and development, or even just simply an increase of demand for housing in a particular area. Most of the time, it’s a combination of these things that feed gentrification. And while this is great for people who own property in gentrified neighborhoods, this is less great for the poor, who eventually get pushed out of the place that they call home.

Local tenants are finding that they’re being pushed out of their homes, while property owners make room for vacationers.

Instagram / @kirstiwinnberg

Where Mexico City is concerned, this has meant that those fortunate – or, wealthy – enough to own property and land have seized on the opportunity that is Airbnb. Local tenants are finding that they’re being pushed out of their homes, while property owners make room for vacationers willing to pay multiple times the average rent price. “Here in the historic center, we are aware of dozens of buildings that used to be social housing or middle-class housing that have now been completely converted into Airbnb. The biggest apartment buildings are being converted into hotels, but when it isn’t possible to change the legal land use, they are converted into Airbnb,” a local resident said in a recent interview with Truthout. 

But Mexico City isn’t the only city suffering from the rise of Airbnb.

Instagram / @arisoiko_photo

If you thought that this was a problem just for Mexico City, you’d be wrong. Protest posters in Amsterdam read things such as, “Stop the eviction of Amsterdam!” during a December march against the changes Airbnb had brought to the city. Reports from The Guardian say that in 2018, Barcelona received 32 million tourists – which is approximately 20 times the residential population. The city now boasts graffiti saying, “Tourists go home, refugees welcome.”

What’s frustrating locals a lot goes beyond gentrification, into social and cultural shifts.

Instagram / @nurifergar

Locals are seeing their neighborhoods turn into transitory destinations, rather than a community built on strong relationships. “Before Airbnb, you had neighbors you could depend on. They looked out for you. If you went out of town, they’d get your mail, your paper,” New Orleans resident, Janice Coatney, said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “You just had more of a neighborly neighborhood.” 

However, not all is doom and gloom.

Instagram / @riot_code_23

A few countries have introduced legislation in order to curb the socio-economic changes Airbnb has brought to cities around the world. Barcelona authorities placed a moratorium on new hotels in 2015 – and Airbnb hosts are required to hold a license to operate. It’s now illegal for entire apartments to be rented out for less than 30 days in the city of New York. Amsterdam has a cap on the number of nights that Airbnb hosts can rent out their apartments, having reduced that number from 60 to 30. So, policy-wise, these cities are trying to preserve their sense of community, without completely sacrificing their tourism industry.

Another alternative can be found in the aptly-named Fairbnb.

Instagram / @italianembassyinlondon

It’s essentially Airbnb, but with a twist: 50 percent of the revenue made from hosting a visitor is donated to local community projects. Fairbnb has sought to protect neighborhoods by also establishing a “real homesharing” policy – where hosts may only place a maximum of two houses on the Fairbnb market.

Ultimately, though, while we can see the buds of change beginning to blossom, it may be a while yet before it takes root in these gentrified neighborhoods. Here’s hoping that Mexico City won’t suffer too much from the strain of both migration and tourism.

After Spending His Life in Foster Care, 4 Year Old Noah Cuatro Was Returned To His Parents, Where He Died Shortly After

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After Spending His Life in Foster Care, 4 Year Old Noah Cuatro Was Returned To His Parents, Where He Died Shortly After

On July 5th of this year, a 4-year-old boy named Noah Cuatro was found dead by first res ponders in the pool of the apartment complex he was living in. His parents Jose Cuatro Jr. and Ursula Elaine Juarez, insisted that they had found his body already lifeless, floating in the pool. The couple claimed he had drowned. But the police were immediately on alert to the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. Authorities quickly suspected foul play in the 4-year-old’s death. 

On Thursday morning, law enforcement officials arrested both Cuatro Jr. and Juarez, charging them with the murder of their son.

As soon as Noah’s body was taken to the hospital the parents’ supposed cause of death and the reality of his injuries were inconsistent. Although his parents claimed Noah died by drowning, his injuries were inconsistent with that claim. What’s more, the hospital staff  “observed evidence of injuries to Victim Noah Cuatro’s body” that were consistent with signs of abuse. All of the coinciding evidence made it more likely that his death was not a straight-forward accident. 

In late September, the death was officially ruled a homicide by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner. Two days later, Cuatro Jr. and Juarez were arrested. According to officials, the parents are being charged with a litany of crimes: murder, torture, assault on a child causing death, and child abuse resulting in death. Cuatro Jr. and Juarez are being held on $3 million bail each. If they are convicted Cuatro and Juarez might be sentenced to a maximum of life in prison, or a minimum of 32 years. 

Before he died, Noah spent his short life being shuttled between the care of his parents, the foster system, and his great-grandmother. 

Social workers were involved in Noah’s life from birth. He was first removed from the custody of his parents in 2014 and placed in foster care. Later in the year, his great-grandmother, Eva Hernandez, was given temporary custody of him. Although he spent much of his life in Hernandez’s care, Noah also bounced between the foster system, his parents, and his great-grandmother’s care throughout his life. In 2018, he was, for one final time, given back to his biological parents, although the reason for his most recent removal was due to “medical neglect”. 

According to his grandmother, Noah had been vocal about his fear of returning to his parents’ house. “I just wish [the Department of Child and Family Services] would have listened to him,” Hernandez told reporters in July. “He did say, ‘Please don’t do this, don’t send me back.'” But according to Hernandez, Noah refused to tell her about any abuse that was happening at his parents’ home. “He would not say,” said Hernandez. “He did tell me one time that they used to make his older brother punch him, hit him.”

Four-year-old Noah’s death seems all the more tragic because, according to reports, it may have been preventable. 

As the story has developed, the story has illuminated the failures of the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) to protect Noah. Evidence suggests that the DCFS were directed by courts to investigate anonymous claims that Noah was being sexually abused in May–mere weeks before his death. If this were the case, the department legally had 72 hours to conduct a forensic examination of Noah. According to Eva Hernandez’s attorney, Brian Claypool, the department failed to do so. 

According to Claypool, if the examination had taken place, sexual abuse “would’ve been confirmed, he would’ve been permanently removed from his home and he would be alive today”. “This little boy should’ve been removed from that house when he was two years old,” Claypool continued. “Let alone waiting until he was four and a half years old and watching him die.” Claypool has announced that he and Hernandez “plan to hold the Department of Children and Family Services accountable” for what they perceive as neglect. As for Los Angeles DCFS, they have recently issued an apology for the failure of their “safety net”.

As for the public, they are struggling to come to terms with the senseless and tragic death of a child that looks as if it could’ve been prevented.

There should be iron-clad safe guards against children losing their lives to abusive parents. 

Many people are disappointed in what they see as institutional shortcomings of child welfare systems.

Because children are so defenseless, it’s up to others to protect them from harm. That responsibility should not be taken lightly. 

This person believes that just because someone is a biological parent, doesn’t mean they are emotionally prepared to raise a child:

All in all, it seems like another senseless tragedy has taken another young life much too soon.