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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What I Wish My Family Knew About How Their Vote For Trump Impacts My Life

Culture

What I Wish My Family Knew About How Their Vote For Trump Impacts My Life

fidmart85 / cantstayput / Instagram

Politics is a tricky topic for families and friends, especially when you are on opposite sides of the aisle. It’s hard not to take things personally when it comes to how those closest to you vote. Those feelings have been heightened since 2016 when President Donald Trump won on a campaign based on fear and hate. His rhetoric has never changed and his words and policies are having a real impact on the lives of millions, including me and my husband.

My family is a Cuban family living in Florida. They fit the description in more ways than one. They are a close-knit unit always visiting each other and having mini family reunions for every occasion. Covid changed that for a while but over time they have safely created a bubble with themselves. I am one of three in my immediately-extended family to leave Florida so they don’t see my life on a daily basis. I can only imagine that living in Florida would change that.

With the 2020 elections in just days, I have had some hard conversations with my family about things they’ve never understood or asked about. As a gay Latino man living in the U.S., my life hasn’t always been easy and safe. I grew up in a rural town in the Florida panhandle where it was not okay to be visibly and audibly Latino nor gay.

I was 16 when I had my first run-in with violent homophobia. I was at a keg party and I was pouring a beverage. A college student came up to me and asked if I was gay. Knowing the importance of self-preservation, I immediately said no. Without missing a beat, the man sucker-punched me in the face, called me a faggot, and ran to a waiting car that sped off.

My parents never heard that story. I lied to them when they noticed the welt on my face and told them I got elbowed at cheerleading practice. I know. I was a cheerleader and my parents couldn’t see I was gay. It was safer for me to lie and not let my parents know I was targeted for being gay, something they were in no place to accept are Cuban immigrants living in a rural, conservative southern town.

That moment instilled in me a fear that I live with to this day. No matter where I am or what I am doing, I always function at the level that I can be attacked at any time for being gay. President Trump’s rhetoric and administration has made that worse.

During President Barack Obama’s administration, I felt safe for the first time in a long time. I know that comes with some privilege, but it was the first time in in my gay life that I felt safe to be who I was. I came out to my parents. I became involved in politics to get people elected. I traveled as an openly gay man. I was no longer living in the shadows.

The 2016 elections shattered the feeling of safety and peace for me and my friends. Suddenly, all of us were on the chopping block as our rights and dignity were under attack again. The Pulse Nightclub shooting in June 2016 reminded me of how much hate there still was for people like me and the Trump campaign was fanning those flames. I was scared. My family didn’t understand why.

Most of my family voted for President Trump that year. It was a knife through the heart to know that most of my family was not concerned about my own safety and dignity. For them, President Trump’s election was more important than the very real threat he posed to millions of people.

I remember confiding in my family my fear that President Trump would try to eliminate marriage equality, won just one year before. I was made to feel like I was being dramatic. My husband and I got married the Friday after Thanksgiving because we just did not trust what the administration would do.

Four years later, Supreme Court justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito signaled that they want to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that made my marriage legal. How? With the help of Amy Coney Barrett, who was rushed in with just days left till election day. Marriage equality became law of the land in a 5-4 ruling.

This blow to the LGBTQ+ community comes after the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that LGBTQ+ people cannot be fired for being LGBTQ+. The ruling in June stated that LGBTQ+ were included in the Civil Rights Act under protection from discrimination based on sex.

The lawsuit brought to the Supreme Court to make discrimination against me legal was drafted by the Trump administration. The man my family voted for wanted to make me less than everyone else.

One of the first cases before the majority conservative court that could erode LGBTQ+ rights is Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. The case, which will be heard the day after the election, will decide if private agencies that receive government dollars can refuse people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and even religion. How is this happening in the U.S. in 2020?

I am also a recently diagnosed diabetic. The Trump administration has been a hostile enemy of the Affordable Care Act since day one. The ACA, also known as Obamacare, has become increasingly popular with Americans, especially now during the pandemic.

Another case being heard on behalf of the Trump administration is a case to dismantle the ACA once and for all. This would throw millions of people off of their healthcare and would leave millions more with pre-existing conditions without healthcare.

A vote for Trump is a vote to strip people of necessary and life-saving healthcare. We have all read the horror stories of people dying of diabetes because they couldn’t afford their insulin. The Trump administration wants us to go back to those days. The court case could force numerous people to die from treatable and manageable diseases for the sake of profit over lives.

Republicans have no plan to replace the ACA. However, they have continued to lie to the American people and claim that they do.

There are several communities under attack right now. Black lives are at stake. Abortion rights are at stake. Healthcare is at stake. Immigrant rights are at stake. Trans lives are at stake. LGBTQ+ rights are at stake. Our standing in the world is at stake. The soul of our nation is at stake.

Under this current administration, I have seen my friends live in fear that they will lose rights. I have watched friends grapple with the understanding that they have lost rights.

My family claims to care for me, and I am sure that on some level they really believe that. However, as a gay Latino man living in the Trump administration, I have grown resentful. I resent that their votes are costing me and my friends their human dignity. I resent that their vote exacerbated the ongoing pandemic that has cost more lives than it should have. I resent that they ask why I don’t visit despite voting to limit my rights and freedom.

To my family members who have voted against this administration, thank you. Thank you for standing by my side. Thank you for understanding what is at stake for me and my marriage. Thank you for rebuking an administration that has caused unnecessary harm to millions of innocent people.

It is not too late to have your voice heard. Go vote. Millions of us are relying on you using your voice to determine the future of this nation.

READ: Remembering The Victims Of The Orlando Shooting, Many Of Whom Were Latino

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Marco Rubio Writes Letter Asking For TPS For Venezuelans After Republicans Voted Against It

Things That Matter

Marco Rubio Writes Letter Asking For TPS For Venezuelans After Republicans Voted Against It

Stefanie Reynolds / Getty Images

The Trump administration is letting Temporary Protected Status expire for hundreds of thousands of people. A lot of these people have been here for years and have started families and businesses. Republicans voted against TPS for Venezuelans so Sen. Marco Rubio is now asking Trump to do something about it.

Sen. Marco Rubio wrote a letter to President Trump asking for TPS for Venezuelans.

It is a break from the usual tactic of ignoring TPS needs in Florida by Haitians, Hondurans, and Salvadorans. These people are at risk of losing their TPS after the Trump administration decided to let those protections expire. Venezuelans started fleeing the South American country when the economy started to collapse. Many of them have settled in South Florida.

People immediately started to call Sen. Rubio out for his glaring inaction for years.

Venezuelan nationals have been coming to the U.S. for years to escape the terrifying situation in Venezuela. An economic downfall led to millions of Venezuelans going without food, school, medicine, and other necessities. The crisis was an international fascination as Venezuelans took to the streets and were killed for protesting against their government.

Senate Republicans refused to vote on a bill last year to provide TPS to Venezuelans.

In August 2019, Senate Republicans had the chance to vote on a bill that would have protected Venezuelans living in the U.S. A bill in the Democrat-led House passed but the Senate bill stalled because of Senate Republicans. The failure by the Senate to pass the bill has left Venezuelans vulnerable to deportation back to the country they fled.

“Not this week, I don’t anticipate movement on it,” Rubio told the Miami Herald back then. “I anticipate hopefully getting the administration to do something. That’s what we’ve been working on behind the scenes here, we’ve made a little progress on it. We have 17 votes already scheduled this week, a bunch of nominees, the spending bill, the veto override. The votes this week have already been scheduled.”

During this time, the Trump administration has quietly been deporting Venezuelans back.

Venezuelans nationals have been deported back to President Nicolás Maduro’s brutal regime. With no economic prospects, the deportations are sending people to their deaths as one in three Venezuelans aren’t getting enough food. This is just one of the many issues compounded on the Venezuelan people after years of economic and political turmoil.

Venezuelans are also pointing out how Sen. Rubio waited until after Amy Coney Barrett to fight for TPS.

Senate Republicans recently confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The confirmation was rushed to secure a conservative majority on the court and went against the wish of the American people. A majority of Americans preferred that the Senate wait until after the election.

There are four days left until the elections and every vote matters. Make sure you get out there and make your voice heard.

READ: The RNC Wants You To Think Biden-Harris Policies Are Socialist, These Cuban And Venezuelan-Americans Think Otherwise

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