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

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Things That Matter

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

Things That Matter

Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

When it comes to international happiness rankings, Mexico has long done well in many measurements. In fact, in 2019, Mexico placed number 23 beating out every other Latin American country except for Costa Rica. But in 2020, things looks a lot different as the country slipped 23 spots on the list. What does this mean for Mexico and its residents? 

Mexico slips 23 spots on the World Happiness Report thanks to a variety of compelling factors.

Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, the new report indicates.

“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.

The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.

Mexico has struggled especially hard against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started, Mexico has fared far worse than many other countries across Latin America. Today, there are reports that Mexico has been undercounting and underreporting both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths. Given this reality, the country is 2nd worst in the world when it comes to number of suspected deaths, with more than 200,000 people dead. 

Could the happiness level have an impact on this year’s elections?

Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.

But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.

Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.

Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.

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