Things That Matter

From Record Cartel Violence To A Slumping Economy, Mexican President AMLO Has Had A Rocky First Year

Mexican President Andres Manual Lopez Obrador (AMLO) has been in office for one year, but many feel his administration has been overshadowed by cartel violence despite a few wins for Mexico’s poor. AMLO, as he is nicknamed, secured a win in 2018 by promising to end corruption, stabilize the economy and improve social services. 

But under AMLO homicides continued to increase, as they had been for ten years, to 35,000 so far in 2019. Cartel violence has caused 200,000 deaths in a decade, according to Al Jazeera. His supporters say AMLO cannot be blamed for inheriting Mexico’s long history of organized crime-related violence. 

AMLO has been dealt with several violent blows to his campaign.

“We cannot pin the current security dynamics entirely on AMLO because they have been built up over a long period of time,” Eduardo Moncada, a political scientist at Barnard University, told Al Jazeera.

The killing of a family of at least nine Mormon dual citizens of the U.S. and Mexico, six of which were children, by cartels in November, reignited fears of increasing violence in the country. The failed arrest of Ovidio Guzman, notorious Sinaloa drug lord El Chapo’s son, has created the appearance that AMLO isn’t tough enough on crime. 

When Guzman was arrested by police, the Sinaloa cartel retaliated by setting dozens of cars on fire and taking security officials hostage, 13 people died. ALMO was forced to release Ovidio. In October, over a dozen police officers were killed by the same cartel. ALMO does not want to meet violence with violence.

“We are never going to opt for war, for confrontation using force,” Lopez Obrador said in a news conference following the Mormon killings. “What matters to us are people’s lives.”

Many have begun to question the effectiveness of AMLO’s “hugs not bullets” approach.

Donald Trump announced that Mexican cartels would be designated “terrorist” groups, much to the chagrin of Mexico. 

“Since 1914, there hasn’t been a foreign intervention in Mexico and we cannot permit that,” Lopez Obrador said in response. “Armed foreigners cannot intervene in our territory.” 

AMLO pledged to end the militarized approach to dealing with cartels, choosing to focus on addressing poverty instead. The president created a new civilian National Guard and wants to give low-level criminals amnesty. While many are wondering if his approach is the right one, as violence continues, analysts have said the hostile tactics of the past 13 years under President Felipe Calderon were a complete failure, according to Al Jazeera. 

“He is threading the needle between being a pragmatist with a complicated reality, and being true to his leftist roots,” Moncada said. 

AMLO’s constant placating to Trump has immigrants rights groups worried. 

To avoid tension with the United States, AMLO deployed thousands of National Guard officers to the Southern border to prevent illegal crossings. 

“The government of Lopez Obrador reacted in a way that many did not expect,” Carlos Peterson, Mexico senior analyst for the Eurasia Group, told Al Jazeera. “He wants to avoid any conflict so he has been caving into Trump’s demands.”

He also agreed to the U.S. policy of Migrant Protection Protocols which requires migrants to stay in Mexico while awaiting immigration court hearings in the United States. 

“The move has forced thousands of migrants, among them families with young children, to live for months in crowded shelters in high-crime border cities or on the streets,” according to Al Jazeera. 

The Mexican economy has also slowed after AMLO decided to cancel a $13 billion airport in Mexico City and scrapped a plan to allow private capital into the oil and gas industry. AMLO made Mexico the only country to sign USMCA, the trade deal to replace NAFTA, which has not even been ratified by US Congress. Many wonder if AMLO’s foreign policy is taking too many leads from the Trump administration, and at what cost? 

AMLO is still considered a champion of the poor and has had many wins. 

A year into his six-year term, AMLO’s fate remains up in the air. With nearly half of Mexico’s population living in poverty, AMLO has created new structural and social welfare programs. He turned the decadent presidential compound into a public park, decreased his security detail, sold the presidential jet, and cut government salaries including his own, according to Al Jazeera. 

AMLO has created scholarships, grants, and training programs for young people. Pensions were expanded for senior citizens and government workers, and new stipends were implemented for the disabled. 

“It’s not easy to be successful in such a short period of time, Maureen Meyer, director for Mexico and Migrant Rights, told Al Jazeera. “There is no magic bullet to addressing Mexico’s violence or its other social problems, there is no easy quick fix.” 

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

Things That Matter

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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