Things That Matter

Mexican President AMLO Puts His Foot Down, Tells Trump No US Intervention In Fighting The Drug Cartels

There is no denying that the Mexican drug cartels are multinational criminal networks whose poisonous tentacles have reached far and deep into the social, financial and political structures of countries all around the world. The current US presidency has placed blame of many of the ailments of the country on the Southern neighbor, Mexico, from migration crisis to issues of national security. A new measure about to be taken by the Trump administration has the potential to forever change Mexico-US relations and the place of Washington in Latin America as a whole.

Trump has made moves towards declaring the cartels as terrorist organizations.

Credit: WUNC

Trump recently revealed in an interview that he is lobbying to declare drug cartels to be terrorist organizations, claiming that the drug-abuse epidemic that leads to more than 100,000 deaths per year is a mass murder and that the finger should be pointed at el vecinito del sur. Now, this change goes far beyond wording. It could actually lead to a situation in which the US Congress could approve military and covert operations in Mexico, much like has happened in terrorist-harboring countries such as Somalia, Pakistan and Yemen. This could have enormous repercussions for the bilateral relationship between the United States and Mexico, and in the geopolitics of the Americas at large.

Trump was damning during an interview with Fox News conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly. Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s Foreign Affairs secretary, released an statement saying: “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports that it has contacted U.S. authorities to understand the meaning and scope of the remarks”. We are sure that Trump’s words sent the diplomatic world scrambling for official positions. 

AMLO has said no thanks to Trump’s position for fighting the cartels. Of course, Mexico is wary of intervention so it is only offering cooperation.

Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has historically been very critical of United States interventionism not only in Mexico but Latin America at large. Donald Trump has been singing AMLO’s praises since the man from Tabasco got in power, but this might be a turning point in their relationship. Let us not forget that AMLO received the ousted Bolivian former president Evo Morales with open arms, and that Morales’ version of the events that rocked the balance of power in Bolivia points to US intervention in what he has sustained was a coup. During his daily morning press conference he told the press that he would rather send Thanksgiving hugs to Americans rather than confront them at this time. He also said this gesture would be: “Just to say cooperation yes, interventionism no” 

Remember the Plan Colombia in the 1990s? Well, it didn’t end too well for the South American nation.

There are of course precedents to United States intervention in Latin America to fight the cartels. Ever since the Raegan era and the DEA’s first forays into cartel lands, US presence has been constant, both officially and unofficially. Bill Clinton launched the celebre and infamous Colombia Plan to give military aid to the country to fight the post-Pablo Escobar mess left in the shape of guerrillas and new cartel bosses in Cali.

Critics to current US policy towards Mexico say that there is a move towards interference with domestic affairs. Of course, the strong cartel presence and evident power in cities like Culiacán and states such as Jalisco has made the notion of a total lack of government control get strength among security policy circles. There is no denying that some conservatives in Mexico would even welcome an increased intervention in local matters, but the vast amount of the population would be in opposition.

What would increased US military presence mean? 

It would be a seismic shift in Mexico, where the US is seen sometimes as a historical adversary. The myths surrounding the battle of El Alamo and the loss of a vast amount of territory to the US still resonate in the Mexican psyche and is seen as a blow to national pride. Further, US influence in national affairs would be a catastrophic development for the AMLO presidency. How would the cartels respond? The recent events in Culiacán are a good indication perhaps, as cartel bosses fear extradition more than death itself.

The call to name Mexican drug cartels terrorist organizations echoes the plight of the LeBaron family, a clan of Mormon Mexican-American dual citizens who recently suffered a massacre at the hands of organized crime. It is important to note that Mormons in the state of Chihuahua have blood ties with powerful Washington personalities including former presidential candidate Mitt Romney. 

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This Teacher Received A Nissan Pickup Truck Decked Out As A Mobile Classroom

Things That Matter

This Teacher Received A Nissan Pickup Truck Decked Out As A Mobile Classroom

Like students around the world, kids in Mexico have been forced to take school online or tune into programming on public TV in order to learn. But that’s just the kids who are lucky enough to have access to Internet or a TV. Many students live in rural areas and lack the adequate resources to continue their studies amid the global pandemic.

But thankfully, there are many good samaritans out there (aka compassionate teachers) who have invented their own ways to bring the classroom to kids wherever they are.

A Mexican teacher was gifted a decked out pickup truck by Nissan.

Since schools were forced to close last year in April, Aguascalientes special education teacher Nallely Esparza Flores, has been driving four hours a day to educate students one-on-one at their homes from her truck bed, outfitted with a small table and chairs.

News of her project spread across social media, eventually reaching the corporate offices of Nissan México. This week, the company surprised Esparza with the gift of a new pickup truck specially outfitted with a small open-air mobile classroom built into the truck’s bed.

“Today I feel like my labors and the help that we give each day to children and their families is unstoppable,” she said on Twitter Wednesday, sharing photos of her new vehicle. “My students no longer have to take classes in the full heat of the sun,” she said.

Nissan representatives said they decided to give Esparza the adapted NP300 model, 4-cylinder truck after hearing her story because she was “an example of perseverance and empathy.”

“When we learned about the incredible work of this teacher, we got together to discuss in what way we could contribute to this noble work,” said Armando Ávila, a vice president of manufacturing.

The mobile classroom is pretty legit and will allow Esparza to continue her good deed.

Esparza inside her new classroom.

The decked out Nissan pickup truck has three walls (the other is a retractable sheeting) and a ceiling made with translucent panels to protect teacher and student from the elements while letting in natural light.

It also has retractable steps for easy access to the classroom, electrical connections, a whiteboard and an easily disinfected acrylic table and benches that are foldable into the wall to provide space. The table also has a built-in plexiglass barrier to allow social distancing.

Access to education in Mexico is highly inequitable.

Esparza, like many teachers across the country, found that not all distance learning was equal. Many of her students in Cavillo were from poor families without internet access. So she used social media networks to keep in touch with such students via cell phones, but even that was not necessarily an available option for all — and not ideal. Finally, she decided to solve the problem by hitting the road in her pickup truck.

According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), only 58% of students in Mexico had a home computer – the lowest percentage among all OECD countries. And only about one third (32%) of the school computers in rural schools in Mexico were connected to
the Internet, compared to more than 90% for schools located in urban areas.

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Sen. Ted Cruz Makes Quick U-Turn From Mexico After Outrage He Abandoned His Frozen Texas

Things That Matter

Sen. Ted Cruz Makes Quick U-Turn From Mexico After Outrage He Abandoned His Frozen Texas

Sen. Ted Cruz has faced a series of outrages since being accused of helping to incite the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The latest problem plaguing Sen. Cruz is his trip to Mexico while his constituents in Texas freeze during an extreme weather event.

Sen. Ted Cruz was caught boarding a flight to Mexico as Texans are left freezing.

Texas is being slammed with a historic extreme winter weather storm. Hundreds of thousands of Texans are without power for the fifth day in a row while the senator from Texas was heading off to Cancun. Critics are angered that Sen. Cruz would leave the state while his constituents are forced to boil water to survive one of the worst winter storms on record.

Politicians are calling Sen. Cruz out for leaving his constituents during a natural disaster.

The Castro brothers are speaking up as well. Texans are dying from the extreme weather after the power grid was overloaded from sudden demand. The power outages have lasted for multiple days and the death toll continues to climb from the freezing temperatures. So far, 24 people have died from the winter storm.

Part of the problem is that Texas has their own power grid separated from the rest of the nation in an attempt to avoid federal regulations. The decision was made in the 1930s after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed the Federal Power Act. This allowed the federal government to oversee interstate electricity sales. However, Texas utilities did not cross state lines. This created an electricity island.

People are not letting the trip go unnoticed.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is responsible for overseeing the power grid and officials had a grim revelation about the power outages. On Tuesday, ERCOT CEO Bill Magness addressed the media about the power outages.

“We needed to step in and make sure that we were not going to end up with Texas in a blackout, which could keep folks without power — not just some people without power but everyone in our region without power — for much, much longer than we believe this event is going to last, as long and as difficult as this event is right now,” Magness said about the call to cut power to some customers as the icy conditions settled in on the area.

He further explained that some of the power outages could last for an undetermined amount of time.

This is not the first time Texas had weather-induced power outages because of winter weather. The state saw the same situation on a smaller scale play out in 2011. The winter storm in 2011 knocked out power across the state and yet Texas officials did not follow suggestions to prevent the current crisis.

A report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation called on Texas to “winterize” their energy infrastructure. The report highlights how the current infrastructure was not ready to take on the weather it experienced in 2011 and, according to The Texas Tribune, Texas didn’t heed the warning.

On Tuesday, 60 percent of Houston businesses and households remained without power because of the weather.

Sen. Cruz quickly booked a return flight to Houston after the outrage.

Facing mounting anger over his warm escape from Texas, Sen Cruz quickly U-turned back to Houston. He claims to have been accompanying his daughters to Mexico and not going on the vacation himself.

A flurry of tweets about the situation show a growing number of people who are skeptical of the senator’s statement. Ted Cruz was photographed with luggage both in Texas and coming back through the Cancun airport. The luggage has set off a debate about whether or not Sen. Cruz honestly went to Mexico to drop his daughters.

READ: Sen. Joe Manchin Calls On Senate To Expel Sen. Ted Cruz After Insurrection

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