Things That Matter

Mexico Is Selling Off Jewelry And Property Seized From Narcos To Build Necessary Roads

Close to 2,000 of pieces of jewelry were auctioned off this past Sunday by the Mexican government. From gold watches to bullet-shaped pendants encrusted with diamonds, the collection is a special set of items that have a place in Mexico’s dark criminal history. This is due to the items once belonging to Mexican drug lords and other sought after criminals. Hundreds of people came from all over the country seeking these exclusive and hallowed items that once belonged to the whos-who of Mexico’s narco world.

The auction is a chance to show the new government’s transparency and also support a good cause. the money from the auction will help fund building roads in western Mexico. 

Credit: @univ_inenglish / Twitter

This past weekend was the third such auction organized by the government, which has announced that the fourth one will sell off land and cash confiscated from drug dealers. The fundraising goal for the auction was 21.8 million pesos, about 1.14 million U.S. dollars, according to the AP. Proceeds from the auctions will be used to repair roadwork near the border between Michoacán and Colima.

Mexico’s austerity-minded President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office last December, is behind the auction. These jewelry sell-offs have been taking place outside Los Pinos, a mansion that was the former residence of the Mexican president. One of López Obrador’s first orders was making the estate in the capital’s Chapultepec Park into a cultural center designated to the open public.

Back in April, López Obrador announced his “Robin Hood” institute, a government agency that would return wealth seized from corrupt politicians and gangsters back to the people. 

“Let’s quickly return everything to the people that’s been stolen,” he said then at a news conference announcing the bill.

While many of the items are high in value, government officials have so far failed to meet some of their fundraising goals. 

Credit: @ruptly / Twitter

The System of Administrative Allocation of Assets (SAE), who is heading the auctions, is expected to host it’s fourth event in the coming weeks. But so far, exceptions have yet to be met in regards to their 21.8 million-peso minimum goal set by SAE head Ricardo Rodríguez.

The SAE has so far raised 10.3 million pesos ($540,000 USD), which is far short of its goal. This past weekend, the government expected between 250 and 350 people to take part in the auction but only 70 signed up to participate. Many of starting prices set forth by the government have yet to matched and buyers have been weary bidding on higher prices items. 

The upcoming auction will feature the properties allegedly confiscated from human trafficking activist Rosi Orozco and accused drug trafficker Xen Li Yegon.

Jewelry items bidding prices range from $655 to $155,000. These high prices are due to the one-of-a-kind nature of the jewelry collection.

Credit: @SAE_Mex / Twitter

One of the biggest draws to the auctions have been people’s curiosity for the narco treasures. Thousands of people have visited Los Pinos just to have a look at the jewelry collection. Felipe Palma, who came to auction with his family Sunday, was one of those curious onlookers. 

“They had some very strange things made,” Palma told the AP. “I imagine the guy that had that type of jewelry made was one of the bosses.”

The most expensive piece of jewelry that is listed is a men’s Piaget watch, valued at $155,000. The watch features an 18 karat, white gold timepiece that features 49 baguette-cut diamonds and an additional 160 baguette-cut diamonds on its side. 

While some of the items are high in value, many of the items that aren’t sought after are often purchased to be melted down to be sold again. Jorge Camacho, who was winning bidder on a Cartier watch and other assorted gold items, will be one of those trying to cash in by selling the items at a secondhand shop.

“There’s a market for everything,” Camacho told the AP. 

READ: Mexican President Lopez Obrador Is Bringing Sweeping Budget Cuts Causing Some Concerns

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

Things That Matter

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.

The Coronavirus Is Getting Its Own Beer And Concha At This Mexico City Panadería And We Can’t Help But Laugh A Little

Culture

The Coronavirus Is Getting Its Own Beer And Concha At This Mexico City Panadería And We Can’t Help But Laugh A Little

@lacornetanegra / Twitter

No one can accuse Mexicans of having no sense of humor. Whether it be reactions to cartel violence, an ineffective government plagued by corruption, or a global pandemic – many Mexicans turn to memes and humor to confront real issues. Enter the CoronaBeer and ConchaVirus.

Yes, the Coronavirus has ravaged communities around the world. And Mexico itself hasn’t escaped the crisis – more than 2,000 cases have been reported so far and it’s expected to get much worse.

Entrepreneurs are trying to find some common ground and an opportunity with a very scary reality.

Martha Rivas is part of the team who created the now viral “Conchavirus.” She says, in an interview with UnoTV, that the creation came from “a genuine concern about how to face this crisis due to the coronavirus.”

The creators of this peculiar product found in the “Conchavirus” how to cope with the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus. They’re bringing in the pesos like never before.

Yes, the ConchaVirus is real.

Credit: @lacornetanegra / Twitter

The “Conchavirus” was created in Mexico City’s bustling Iztapalapa district by a team of creative panaderos/as. The interesting looking confection is made with red icing, concha dough, and a lot of creativity. The team behind the now viral pan dulce, hand decorate each and every concha to make sure that it is best representative of the illustrations of the virus, provided by doctors and scientists.

For anybody wondering – a large Conchavirus is going for $6.50 pesos (or about 25¢ USD). There’s also apparently the “Manta-ConchaVirus,” but that’s…a whole other story.

It’s so real, it even got its own segment on a local news channel.

After the publication of a photo that went viral on social media, chilangos – or residents of Mexico City – began a crazed search search for the conchas. This viral moment has already been reflected in the huge growth of sales.

Meanwhile, Corona has suffered a major decline in sales because of the namesake virus.

Credit: @GabrielFrancoJr / Twitter

I mean, remember when rumors started flying around that some people actually thought the virus and iconic Mexican beer brand were somehow linked? Yea, it was a thing.

And yea, Corona beer already existed long before the pandemic but this CoronaBeer is totally different.

Obviously there isn’t much too celebrate right now given the on-going health crisis, but one beer makers hopes what when all is said and done – people will toast to good health with his new brew.

A brewery in Mexico’s state of Hidalgo has appropriated the name of the deadly virus and used it for a product he hopes will bring people together – Coronavirus Beer.

Isaac Palafox, the entrepreneur, owns a chain of cafés and was already serving the beer but it didn’t yet have a name. He describes the beer as an English-style brew with hints of chocolate, molasses and coffee extract.

“This drink is already being produced and sold in my cafes, but it didn’t have a name, until now,” he said, adding that the coffee he uses to make the beer is toasted by artisanal roasters whose methods date back to the year 1900 and incorporate practices brought to Hidalgo by German immigrants to the region.

But Mexican businesspeople aren’t the only ones looking to capitalize on the coronavirus. The newspaper El País reported that six brands in Spain have made trademark requests for names related to Covid-19, including T-shirts that read, “I survived the coronavirus.”