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. 

Video Of A Mariachi Band Serenading A Hospital Full Of Health Workers And Covid-19 Patients In Mexico Goes Viral And OMG It’s Amazing

Things That Matter

Video Of A Mariachi Band Serenading A Hospital Full Of Health Workers And Covid-19 Patients In Mexico Goes Viral And OMG It’s Amazing

@Notimex / Twitter

Like the rest of the world, Mexico has been struggling during the Coronavirus pandemic. But as most of the country is in lockdown, tens of thousands of healthcare workers are on the frontlines. They’re logging long and hard hours – putting themselves at a huge risk to confront this growing beast.

From New York to Milan, and now in Mexico City, creative residents have come up with moving tributes to these heroes.

With few audiences to play to these days, a group of Mariachi players staged a show outside one of Mexico City’s largest hospitals.

Credit: @NotiMex / Twitter

Plaza Garibaldi, in the historical center of Mexico City, is typically a Mariachi haven. There are usually hundreds of bands roving the square for willing customers asking for classic Mariachi hits – and it can be a lucrative job.

But on Tuesday, about 120 mariachis got together at a hospital to serenade those affected by the pandemic.

Julio César Barragán, the National Mariachi Association spokesman, said that the goal of the musicians was to lift the spirits of patients and health care workers at Mexico’s National Institute of Respiratory Diseases.

“We did this to give encouragement, solidarity and hope to the sick and to medical staff,” Barragán said, according to Mexican news portal Eje Central.

Obviously, such a powerful tribute quickly started going viral.

Wearing face masks (which trumpeters lowered temporarily in order to play their instruments) and maintaining a “healthy distance” from each other, the musicians assembled outside the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases, where they played a range of classic mariachi songs.

The serenata coincided with World Health Day, a World Health Organization initiative whose main purpose this year is to celebrate the work of nurses and midwives and remind world leaders of the critical role they play in keeping the world healthy.

The show of support comes at a time when most street musicians in Mexico City struggle with unemployment.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Demand for Mariachis has fallen by 70%, as the COVID-19 crisis dealt a serious blow to the tourism industry in the capital.

“The situation is very critical,” according to Antonio Guzmán, a 35-year mariachi veteran in Mexico City. Adding: “I used to arrive at Plaza Garibaldi at 10 in the morning and leave at 8 at night. Now, with coronavirus, I have to arrive earlier, around 8 in the morning, without having had breakfast and I go home at 10 or 11 with nothing in my stomach,” he said.

“Sometimes I arrive home with my hands empty,” added Guzmán.

According to the Mexican newspaper Milenio, starting Thursday the mariachi association will start offering events on an online platform to raise money for the more than 2,000 families of mariachi musicians affected by the pandemic.

At the same time these healthcare workers are being celebrated, others across the country are facing discrimination.

According to a report by El Universal, fake news and ignorance are creating a hostile environment for healthcare workers across the country. Many are being discriminaed against, threatened, and even attacked.

Just days ago, residents in Morelos state (just south of Mexico City) protested outside a public hospital demanding Covid-19 patients not be treated in their city – they even threatened to burn down the building. One protester, even threatened the head doctor with being burned alive.

Healthcare workers have even stopped wearing their uniforms on their way to and from work for fear of being attacked.

Mexico’s Beaches Are Still Full Of Crowds Celebrating Semana Santa Despite Calls For Social Distancing

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Mexico’s Beaches Are Still Full Of Crowds Celebrating Semana Santa Despite Calls For Social Distancing

@YucatanPareja / Twitter

Although Mexico’s President has come under fire from much of the international community for his relaxed approach to confronting the Covid-19 crisis, many municipalities and states are taking an aggressive stance to halt the pandemic.

In fact, all of Mexico’s more than 6,000 miles of coastline have been closed. That means zero access to beaches – a major draw for millions of local and international tourists.

Officially, all of Mexico’s beaches are closed.

Credit: @localesoaxaca / Twitter

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell told a press conference on Thursday that the closure order applies to every beach in the country until the end of the national emergency on April 30.

“The order has been given. It obliges state and municipal authorities to take coherent measures and suspend tourist activity on beaches, be it international or local tourism,” he said.

Other states had already begun to close beaches earlier this week.

Those closures impacted some of the county’s most popular tourist attractions, including Baja California Sur, Baja California and Oaxaca, where local authorities closed down the country’s only nudist beach, Zipolite. Like beaches throughout Mexico, Zipolite is a big draw during the Semana Santa (Easter Week) vacation in April.

Authorities in Tamaulipas and Sonora had also begun to close beaches before the order, and Guerrero announced Wednesday that its beaches would be closed beginning Thursday.

“The state government makes this delicate decision in an unsatisfactory setting: we have had to choose between protecting life and suspending economic activity,” the state government said in a press release.

These authorities recognize that the economy – although it will be impacted – will recover.

Credit: Secretaria de Salud / Gobierno de Mexico

It said that the economy will always be recoverable as long as the human factor still exists and urged citizens to stay at home and practice other methods of social distancing.

But not everyone seems to have got the memo – as miles of beaches remained full of vacationers.

Credit: Pixabay

Even though it’s been proven that social distancing is our greatest tool against the growing pandemic, some are choosing to ignore these guidelines. And as a result, their risking the health of millions.

Over the weekend, people decided to defy the government’s order to stay at home and instead enjoy a day out at the beach in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz. The newspaper Milenio reported that Playa Villa del Mar near the port city of Veracruz was packed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with both revelers and vendors offering products such as swimming suits, food and alcoholic beverages.

President López Obrador on Friday ruled out any possibility of implementing “draconian measures” such as a curfew to contain the spread of Covid-19, while he said two weeks ago that he wanted to avoid a complete shutdown of the economy because it would disproportionately hurt the poor.

As if people needed another reason to stay clear of beaches – other than you know, a global pandemic – wild animals are making a comeback in less populated areas.

Credit: @infolliteras / Twitter

Videos have captured the animals in Quintana Roo, where the resorts of Cancun and Riviera Maya are located.

One video, which has been watched 120,000 times on Facebook, shows a huge crocodile swimming along a canal between balconies. The people filming express their shock at the animal as he swims past without stopping for the people watching him.

Another video captured a jaguar roaming the streets of Tulum. According to local media, the big cat was spotted near the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort & Spa.