Things That Matter

Under Pressure From Trump, Mexican Soldiers Are Making Life For Migrants Passing Through Mexico A Living Hell

The struggles that migrants face in their journey from Central America to the US-Mexico border has long been a dangerous one. Under threats from smugglers and coyotes to corrupt government officials, physical violence, extreme heat, lack of food and water, it’s a journey that has claimed many lives.

However, under a recent deal between the US and Mexican governments, the trip north has become increasingly more difficult thanks to increased enforcement from Mexican authorities.

Under pressure from the US, Mexico is launching major crackdowns against migrants.

Credit @TheUrbanNewz / Twitter

About 100 Mexican soldiers and immigration agents raided a freight train in the southern state of Chiapas on Thursday and detained dozens of Central American migrants riding atop the cars. Such raids had been rare since the last crackdown on migrants in 2014. But under increasing U.S. pressure to reduce the flow of hundreds of thousands of Central Americans through Mexican territory, Mexico’s government has stepped up enforcement.

In a traumatic scene filmed by Associated Press journalists, the train rolled to a stop in a rural area, and then soldiers climbed ladders to the top of freight cars shouting, “This is the army, you’re surrounded!”

Groups of migrants tried to flee by running along the tops of freight cars, while others hurried down to the ground and headed into the jungle. One soldier was seen wrestling a young man into a waiting immigration van by the neck. Agents filled three such vehicles with migrants.

At least some of the troops wore armbands of Mexico’s newly formed National Guard.

Credit: @pedroultreras / Twitter

The government says it has deployed thousands of National Guard agents across the country with supporting immigration enforcement.

The raid came the same day authorities in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz detained more than 450 migrants in a series of operations.

The raids included the arrest of nearly 260 migrants who were taken from hotels, motels and the main bus station in the city of Veracruz.

“We have been making detentions in the entire state,” said Edgar González Suárez, the Immigration Institute’s delegate for Veracruz. He called the raids in the Veracruz city “perhaps the biggest operation” to take place there, and said most of the migrants were Hondurans and Guatemalans.

Meanwhile, photographers are traveling with the caravan to document their bravery amid the struggles.

Credit: @Refuge4Families / Twitter

Despite the risk of being turned back, thrown in a detention center, violence, and death, tens of thousands of migrants make the perilous journey. Why do they do it?

Many travelers have died on the journey – some were mugged, some kidnapped by cartels. The risks are too many for any family to consider undertaking this journey entirely on their own. 

“Pueblo sin Fronteras” (also known as, “People without Borders”) is an NGO that has been organizing similar caravans for several years. They carefully pick the travel route in order to avoid the cartel-dominated zones as much as possible and make sure to keep migrants on the road only during daylight hours.

Migrants in the caravan often take their strength from their numbers and manage to survive its hardships through solidarity. On cold nights they huddle in groups and during the day they share the little stock they have to last the long march. They take turns carrying babies and the carefully-chosen belongings they decided not to leave behind. Knowing that memories they hold on to from their previous lives could make their future lives harder to reach, they took with them as little as possible.

They do all of this to make the dream of reaching the US come true. And they’ll continue the struggle and the dangerous journey despite increased threats from Mexican authorities.

READ: Mexico Conducts Largest Raid On Migrant Caravan Members, Regrets It

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Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Things That Matter

Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Hector Vivas / Getty Images

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador criticized the historic role of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Mexico after a former Mexican army chief was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles on drug charges at the request of the DEA.

The former Mexican Defense Minister was arrested by the DEA on drug charges.

Salvador Cienfuegos Zepedas was the secretary of National Defense in the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto from 2012 to 2018. President Lopez Obrador claims that the arrest is proof of corruption from past governments.

President Lopez Obrador used the arrest to criticize the U.S. government and the DEA.

President Lopez Obrador, speaking at a press conference in Oaxaca, claimed that there is a double standard. While Cienfuegos Zepedas has been arrested by the DEA, the president claims U.S. officials have not been held accountable for trafficking arms into Mexico to track them to the cartels. According to the president, Mexican officials are being held at a higher and harsher standard than U.S. officials.

“Why is it that it’s just the people in Mexico who took part in these acts being accused or implicated, and (the DEA) aren’t criticizing themselves, reflecting on the meddling by all these agencies in Mexico,” Lopez Obrador said at the press conference. “They came into the country with complete freedom, they did whatever they wanted.”

The former defense minister’s arrest sent shockwaves through Mexico.

Cienfuegos Zepedas was the first high-ranking Mexican military official to be arrested in the U.S. with drug-related corruption. He was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport and will be facing drug and money-laundering charges. It’s been less than a year since Genaro Garcia Luna was charged with taking bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

President Lopez Obrador wants to protect the military’s reputation.

Lopez Obrador also said he hopes that the armed forces aren’t blamed for this scandal and that Mexico must take care of institutions as important as the Secretary of National Defense. Mexico does not currently have an ongoing investigation of the retired general and will await the result of the U.S. investigation, according to the president of Mexico. 

Cienfuegos Zepedas is due to make a court appearance related to four charges in California on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020.

READ: This Is What Mexico’s AMLO Wants From The Pope For The Churches Crimes Against Indigenous Mexicans

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Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

Entertainment

Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

tecolotes_2_laredos / Instagram

Sports have a way of bringing people together. The experience of rooting for your team is a unifying feeling that transcends borders and culture. Showtime is exploring the importance of sports through the lens of the Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos.

“Bad Hombres” is a documentary highlighting immigration under President Trump through baseball.

Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos are the only binational professional baseball team in the world. The team splits their home games between stadiums in Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Director Andrew Glazer wanted to highlight the immigration issue through a sports lens to offer a different layer to the narrative.

“Most of the people trying to come into the U.S. are families and children trying to escape horrible violence in Central America,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “That story has been told, so what I wanted to do was show people in a way that I thought would be relatable to what life is like on the border. What life is like on those two sides and how interconnected they are. The thing that struck me to be honest is that initially in Laredo, Texas was how pervasive Spanish is spoken.”

The documentary shows the struggles of the baseball team trying to make sense of the volatile U.S.-Mexico border relations.

The Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos split time playing their home games between two stadiums in the U.S. and Mexico. The Trump administration’s constant battle with Mexico and threats to close the border put the team’s season in jeopardy. A first look teaser shows team managers trying to coordinate the release of game tickets in time with the ever-changing immigration announcements from the Trump administration.

“Bad Hombres” speaks politics without directly addressing politics.

“Even though my film has an overarching political message, the players are not covertly or overtly political in any way,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “They are baseball players and they are living their lives and a lot of them are trying to make it to the majors and some of them were in the majors and are now finishing their careers. There wasn’t a whole lot of political discussions.”

Glazer made sure to highlight the depths and complexities of the team members dealing with the political climate without politics.

“Inherently, what made the team fascinating is you had players from the U.S. who were Anglo-American players and Mexican American players who had a different perspective,” Glazer told DJ Sixsmith. “Then you had Mexican players and some Dominican players and Cuban and people from everywhere else. There were different languages and different perspectives. Seeing how that developed over time was pretty fascinating.”

“Bad Hombres” is streaming on Showtime.

READ: Veronica Alvarez Is The Coach For The Oakland A’s And Her Presence Is Giving Girls A Chance To Pursue Baseball

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