Things That Matter

Sex Crime Charges Dropped Against Leader Of Mexico-Based Megachurch In Los Angeles

The leader of the La Luz Del Mundo, a Mexico-based church with branches in the U.S, was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking, forcible rape of a minor, and other felonies, prosecutors said Tuesday. Naasón Joaquín García was arrested in California and according to the church group, he is claimed to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. García as well as Alondra Ocampo, Azalea Rangel Melendez and Susana Medina Oaxaca, all of whom are linked with La Luz Del Mundo, allegedly committed 26 felonies in Los Angeles County between 2015 and 2018. Now, he is about to be released.

Update – April 10, 10:30 a.m. PST: Naasón Joaquín García is being released from prison and charges dropped for the rape and sexual assault of children and women at his church.

A California court cited that García was denied his right to a speedy trial and that he did not waive that right.

“In their zeal to secure a conviction at any cost, the Attorney General has sought to strip Mr. Garcia of his freedom without due process by locking him up without bail on the basis of unsubstantiated accusations by unnamed accusers and by denying him his day in court,” Alan Jackson, García’s attorney, said in a statement.

Original Article: La Luz Del Mundo, which means “The Light of the World”, was founded in 1926 by García’s grandfather, Eusebio Joaquín González. The organization has faced controversy in the past and has been subject to criticism for its practices.

Prosecutors say there were four victims, three of whom were children.

According to prosecutors, García and his co-defendants allegedly coerced minors into performing illegal sexual acts. Members would tell them that if they went against any of García’s orders as “the Apostle,” they were defying God as well.

In a 19-page criminal complaint filed to the LA County Superior Court, victims were forced to perform “flirty dances” for García wearing “as little clothing as possible.” The criminal complaint also states that a child and a woman were raped. It notes that Ocampo directed victims to remove all clothing and sexually touch one another while she took pictures to send to García.

“Crimes like those alleged in this complaint have no place in our society. Period,” California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said at a press conference. “We must not turn a blind eye to sexual violence and trafficking in our state. At the California Department of Justice, we will do everything we can to prevent and combat these heinous crimes so that our communities are safe. If you see something, report it and we will vigorously pursue justice.”

A California judge raised García’s bail amount on Tuesday from $25 million to $50 million after investigators conducted additional search warrants.

Despite the charges and arrests, the church has denied the claims and say that García remains the spiritual leader of the group.

La Luz Del Mundo, which claims to have 5 million followers in 58 countries, has adamantly denied the charges against García. The church group is standing by the leader and have called the accusations “false”.

“We believe these accusations are defamation and slander of our international director, the apostle of Jesus Christ,” Silem García, a church spokesman, told the AP. “His position as an apostle of Jesus Christ was given to him by God, and for life, and he continues to lead the church.”

Worshipers and supports gathered to pray at the La Luz del Mundo church in East LA on Wednesday. Many of them were still in shock of the news and believe that Garcia is the target of a “smear campaign.”

“We’re united in prayer,” Jack Freeman, a minister who has been with the church for 27 years, told the LA Times. “An attack like this, which is meant to stumble us or bring us apart, it actually brings us closer together…. We’re not giving up. The church is still going to go forward. We believe this is still the church of the Lord.”

Reaction on social media has been nothing short of angry and shocked at the news of the accusations.

Many on social media couldn’t believe the details of Garcia’s crimes and have pointed to the church for not preventing this. Some have even gone as far as claiming followers of the religious group as “brainwashed.”

“Not to be the one who gets involved in religious matters….. BUT I knew there was something wrong with that “church”. I mean any person could see that…unless of course you were brainwashed by him and his followers.” One user wrote on Twitter.

As more details are revealed in the coming days, prosecutes hope more victims come forward.

“It would be hard to believe that, based on the information that we’re collecting, that it’s only these four individuals,” Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a press conference, urging any victims to come forward, on Thursday.

Beccera said the investigation began last year when a tip came in through a website seeking victims of clergy sex abuse. He believes there are still more victims out there and is hoping justice is served on their behalf.

“You don’t do that to children, you don’t do that to adults,” Beccera said. “You don’t hide behind some religious veil, no law of California, no law of humankind and certainly no law of God would permit to occur what Naasón Joaquín García is alleged to have committed in this case against young girls and others.”

READ: The Pope Thinks That Mexico’s Struggle With Violence Is Because Of The Devil And La Virgen De Guadalupe

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

When it comes to international happiness rankings, Mexico has long done well in many measurements. In fact, in 2019, Mexico placed number 23 beating out every other Latin American country except for Costa Rica. But in 2020, things looks a lot different as the country slipped 23 spots on the list. What does this mean for Mexico and its residents? 

Mexico slips 23 spots on the World Happiness Report thanks to a variety of compelling factors.

Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, the new report indicates.

“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.

The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.

Mexico has struggled especially hard against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started, Mexico has fared far worse than many other countries across Latin America. Today, there are reports that Mexico has been undercounting and underreporting both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths. Given this reality, the country is 2nd worst in the world when it comes to number of suspected deaths, with more than 200,000 people dead. 

Could the happiness level have an impact on this year’s elections?

Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.

But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.

Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.

Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.

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