Things That Matter

Mexican Cartels Are Turning To Avocados And Innocent People Are Falling Victim To Extreme Violence

When someone mentions Mexican cartels, we immediately think of drug trafficking. It’s inevitable – especially after the strict diet of cop shows we’ve ingested over the years. But what if we told you that there’s something else that’s probably just as valuable to the Mexican cartels? Something that, in their minds, justified the killing of 19 people last week. Something like … avocados?

Guacamole is good, but not that good.

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Sure, when you said to your amigas the other day that you’d kill for some good guac, you probably weren’t thinking on this scale. Thursday morning saw the residents of Mexico’s Uruapan awaken to the aftermath of a massacre. Nine semi-naked bodies had been strung across an overpass. Another seven bodies, which had suffered a combination of dismemberment and decapitation, were discovered underneath a nearby pedestrian bridge. And, three other bodies were unceremoniously piled on the side of the road. All of the victims were found with gunshot wounds.

The city of Uruapan is ground zero for this new outbreak of violence.

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The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) took credit for the grisly scene by hanging a banner on the bridge where the bodies were found, warning locals of a similar fate, should they think about helping the gang’s rivals. “Kind people, go on with your routine. Be patriotic, and kill a Viagra,” the banner read. And no – they weren’t talking about a certain pleasure enhancer. One of the CJNG’s most notorious rivals are the Viagras gang.

But where do the avocados come into the story?

Instagram / @avocado.aj

While some authorities have connected the gruesome killings to the region’s drug trade, one International Crisis Group researcher, Falko Ernst, has suggested that there may be more to it. “The big magnet here is avocados,” said Ernst in an interview with the Guardian. The murders were intended to intimidate not only Mexican authorities, but also rival gangs and their families. The aim was to discourage their involvement in both the drugs and avocado trade.

With soaring prices, avocados have become big business in Mexico.

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It’s understandable why anyone would want a piece of the avocado pie, so to speak. It’s the lifeblood of Latinos and avocado-toast toting millennials worldwide, which makes it big business. Mexico itself produces 45 percent of the world’s avocados. The state of Michoacán, where Uruapan can be found, is where most of the avocados within Mexico are produced. In fact, Michoacán’s avocado industry is worth about $1.5 billion. Chances are its value is only going to increase, since the world’s supply of avocados is currently at a low.

This is wild! How are the locals coping?

Instagram / @viajaxmichoacan

At this point in time, there are three main groups struggling for control of the city of Uruapan. These are the Knight Templar cartel, Los Viagras, and of course, the CJNG. This means that it can be risky for locals to work in the industry, who may get caught in the crossfire between the gangs as they battle it out for control of the avocado supply. As many as four avocado trucks are stolen every day, presumably by the cartels operating in the region. It’s gotten so out of hand that the area’s avocado companies appealed to the gangs through an ad in a June edition of the local paper, saying, “It’s impossible to continue taking these losses … failing to stop the theft of these trucks will have an irreparable impact on the avocado industry.”

Locals are dealing with all sorts of violence, extortion, threats, and worse.

Instagram / @avocado.aj

Aside from stolen trucks and products, locals also have to contend with CJNG-linked extortion. A local tequila producer, Eduardo Pérez, closed his business in 2015, as he was unable to keep up with the cartel’s monthly payment demands. “They warned me that if I didn’t pay, then I’d be in trouble,” Perez said in an interview with VICE. That’s the reality of living in an area where gangs like the CJNG operate – and these recent murders have done nothing to quell any tensions in the area.

Brutal killing sprees like those that happened last week were designed to get as much attention as possible, and serve as a warning to anyone and everyone that the CJNG is unafraid of retaliating against people who would threaten their illicit activities. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that there’s some relief for the locals, soon.

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Mexico Looks To Ban Beauty Pageants For Contributing To Machismo Attitudes And Violence Against Women

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Mexico Looks To Ban Beauty Pageants For Contributing To Machismo Attitudes And Violence Against Women

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Beauty pageants have long been an integral part of Mexican celebrations – from Carnival to fiestas celebrating a Pueblo’s patron saint, they’re extremely common. However, as violence against women soars to new records across the country, Mexico’s newly formed ‘Gender Equality Commission’ has introduced new measures that would effectively ban beauty pageants.

The commission sees beauty pageants as contributing to gender stereotypes, machismo attitudes, and, in turn, endemic violence against women.

However, many Mexicans have already voiced their strong opposition to the proposed rules and intent to fight back against them.

Mexico’s Gender Equality Commission has announced new rules that would ban beauty pageants in the country.

The Mexican Congress has taken up recommendations that the country move to ban beauty pageants. The new bill, based on recommendations from the Gender Equality Commission, would include new provisions to the general law on Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence.

The commission introduced several new provisions meant to help reduce violence against women, but the one that many Mexicans are talking about is the potential beauty pageant ban – as beauty pageants are a major part of Mexican society.

Members of the commission expressed their objection towards any such form of competition in which beauty or physical appearance of women, girls, or adolescents is evaluated in full or in part based on sexist stereotypes.

“We believe that beauty contests are events which show women through socio-cultural standards and under gender stereotypes as an instrument to maintain the concept of a female body as an object. This limits the personal development of the participants,” the members added.

Under the new guidelines, pageants will not be able to use public resources, official promotion, subsidies and any kind of economic or institutional support for carrying out these kinds of shows. It’s also possible that privately-funded pageants could be subject to the ban.

Mexico has long suffered from gender-based violence but the issue is getting worse year after year.

Credit: Toyo Sarno Jordan / Getty Images

In Mexico, the rallying cry “Ni Una Menos” has been on the tips of everyone’s tongue as violence against women has spiraled out of control in 2020. Before the Coronavirus pandemic forced people to stay home, hundreds of thousands of Mexicans took part in some of the largest protests ever seen across the country, denouncing the growing violence epidemic.

So far, an average of 10 women are killed everyday in Mexico. And 911 calls for domestic violence are up more than 60%, as women are forced to stay home with their abuser.

Meanwhile, the country’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has brushed off the killings as being sensationalized by his opposition to make him look bad. In fact, after news broke of a recent woman’s murder, AMLO was asked about her death at a press conference. However, he told reporters that he did not want to talk about gender-motivated killings of women because he did not want “femicides to distract from the raffle,” referring to a raffle his administration had organized around the sale of the presidential airplane.

The country has a long history of competing in international beauty pageants.

Credit: Miss International Queen

Beauty pageants have been popular in Mexico for several decades and many Mexicans have preformed well at both national and international competitions. So it’s no surprise that many have come out against the announcement and expressed their sadness about the end of pageants.

Several Mexican women have won big at international competitions, including: Vanessa Ponce De Leon (Miss World 2018), Sofia Aragon (2nd Runner Up Miss Universe 2019), and Andrea Toscano (1st Runner Up Miss International 2019).

A Mexican transgender woman also won out over contestants from 21 countries, at Thailands Miss International Queen. Valentina Fluchaire was crowned queen in 2019 at the annual pageant for transgender women in Thailand.

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New Arrest Warrants Have Been Issued In The Case Of Mexico’s Missing 43 And Families Hope For Justice

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New Arrest Warrants Have Been Issued In The Case Of Mexico’s Missing 43 And Families Hope For Justice

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For six years, Mexico has been desperately trying to uncover the truth behind Mexico’s Missing 43. After a botched initial government response, a corrupt follow-up investigation and years of agony, the current administration has committed itself to laying out the truth for the victim’s families.

Thanks to a new investigation, the Attorney General has announced several new arrest warrants for suspects related to the case and announced that they have one key suspect already in custody.

Now, families of the missing students have a glimmer of hope as authorities say that justice for their missing loved ones is closer than ever before.

Mexico’s Attorney General has requested 46 arrest warrants related to the 43 missing students.

Mexico’s Attorney General, Alejandro Gertz Manero, issued a statement saying that his team of prosecutors have requested 46 warrants for the arrest of municipal officials in Guerrero state, in connection with the disappearance and presumed murder of 43 teaching students in September 2014.

Gertz said in a video message that the officials are sought for the crimes of forced disappearance and organized crime in relation to the kidnapping of the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College students.

In his statement, he also singled out the previous presidential administration for dropping the ball on the investigation.

“It’s necessary to make it very clear that these crimes weren’t even investigated” let alone prosecuted by the former government’s prosecutors, he said.

Mexico’s Missing 43 disappeared after attending a protest in the nearby town of Iguala. As they were travelling back from Iguala to Ayotzinapa, they were confronted by municipal police who opened fire on the buses they were travelling in. An official government report published during the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto said the students had been seized by the municipal police officers who handed them over to the Guerreros Unidos drugs gang.

The new arrest warrants come after the government also announced warrants for officials from the previous presidential administration related to the case.

Credit: Brett Gundlock / Getty Images

The attorney general said the 46 new arrest warrants sought are in addition to warrants obtained in March against former Attorney General’s Office officials, including the ex-head of the Criminal Investigation Agency, Tomás Zerón, who has reportedly fled Mexico.

Gertz said that an Interpol red notice had been issued against Zerón, who is wanted on charges of torturing people detained in connection with the students’ disappearance, forced disappearance, evidence tampering and altering a crime scene.

The attorney general said the location of Zerón is known but didn’t disclose it. It is believed he might be in Canada but authorities are also searching for him in the United States, Guatemala, Belize and Europe.

Prosecutors also announced that they had a prime suspect in custody.

In addition to the new arrest warrants, authorities also announced that they had a prime suspect already in custody. Police arrested Ángel Casarrubias, who has extensive connections with the Guerreros Unidos cartel – his brother is its leader.

Casarrubia’s brother was detained shortly after the students went missing and allegedly confessed to the crimes, saying that his cartel had killed the students and burned their bodies.

However, he later said his confession had been extracted under torture and filed an official complaint. A judge dismissed the charges brought against him over the disappearance of the missing students arguing that his confession had been extracted under duress. But he remains in prison on separate charges of links to organised crime.

Ángel Casarrubias had eluded police until last week. He was finally captured on Wednesday in Mexico state but his detention was only made public on Monday.

Families are cautiously optimistic that there could soon one day be justice for their missing loved ones.

Credit: Brett Gundlock / Getty Images

For more than six years, families of the missing students have mourned the uncertain loss of their loved ones. Their story has been the subject of countless documentaries and art projects, including one by famed Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei.

Although these are major developments in the case, Felipe de la Cruz, a spokesman for the parents of the missing students, said he and the other parents would “wait and see” if Ángel Casarrubias could contribute fresh information about what happened to their children.

He added that what the parents would like to see is the arrest of Tomás Zerón, the former head of investigations for the Prosecutor-General’s office who led the probe into the students’ disappearance.

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