Things That Matter

Thanks To Disrespectful And Maskless Tourists, Authorities Have Closed Down Chichén Itzá

Fresh on the heels of Spring Break travelers from the United States, Mexico is facing another surge in tourism as Mexicans celebrate Semana Santa. The week long vacation period is traditionally the countries busiest travel season as residents flee the cities for the beaches and popular tourist attractions like Chichen Itza

However, thanks to the pandemic, this year is obviously going to look very different. Even though travelers are required to wear masks in public places, many travelers are ignoring this common-sense safety measure and putting lives at risk.

Mexican authorities have decided to close the popular Mayan temple complex of Chichén Itzá after local officials expressed frustration Friday about tourists not wearing face masks. Police in the Yucatan state of Quintana Roo have been angry as they patrol the streets of the popular resort of Tulum, reminding people to wear masks and criticizing how few people did.

“It is regrettable to see how undisciplined things have become,” said Lucio Hernández Gutiérrez. “It was truly frustrating to see hundreds of people walking around without face masks,” noting that tourists were the worst offenders.

“It really is embarrassing that we have to get to this point of asking people [to wear masks] when we should be conscious of the risks we face,” he told ABC News.

Federal authorities took the steps to close the attraction, at least from April 1-4, to avoid the possible spread of the coronavirus. The sprawling temple complex is Mexico’s second-most visited archaeological site and usually draws about 1.8 million visitors a year.

A popular natural attraction in the state of Oaxaca, known as Hierve el Agua, was closed by the local community indefinitely out of fear for the virus but also that the tourism to the site wasn’t benefiting the local community.

And for the second year in a row, Latin America’s most famous reenactment of the crucifixion of Christ will be held without spectators in Mexico City. The multi-day ceremony will be broadcast instead,

The spectacle had drawn about 2 million spectators in recent years, but authorities said such big crowds would be too risky during the pandemic.

The detailed performance has played out in the borough of Iztapalapa since 1843, but was closed to the public in 2020 for the first time in 177 years because of the virus. It was first performed in 1843 after a cholera outbreak threatened the then-rural hamlet.

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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

Hector Vivas/Getty Images

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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In Cuba, Where Food Is Unreliable, Savvy Cooks Have Turned to Facebook to Share Recipes

Culture

In Cuba, Where Food Is Unreliable, Savvy Cooks Have Turned to Facebook to Share Recipes

Photo via Getty Images

COVID-19 hasn’t been easy for Cubans. Not only have Cubans been physically affected by the virus like the rest of the world, but the drop in the island’s gross domestic product has stymied local economic productivity. The island can no longer look to tourism to add to their GDP.

Because of this drop in GDP, food shortages on the island have become more severe than in recent memory. And Cuban cooks are feeling the effects.

Cubans must stand in line for hours at markets with no guarantees that the ingredients that they want will be available.

This way of living is especially hard for Cuban cooks, like 39-year-old Yuliet Colón. For Colón, cooking is both a creative expression and a stress reliever. “The kitchen is my happy place, where I am calmer and I feel better,” she recently revealed to the Associated Press.

Yuliet Colón is one of the creators of a Facebook page called Recetas del Corazón that has changed the cooking game for thousands of Cubans.

Now, thanks to Colón and other curious and generous Cuban cooks like her, Recipes from the Heart is now 12,000 members strong.

The goal of the page is to help struggling Cuban cooks cope with food shortages. Members of the page share creative recipes, tips, and food substitutions. Launched in June of 2020, the page was an instant success. Its success proves that Cubans have been desperate to find ways to adapt their cooking to the post-COVID-era.

To AP News, Yuliet Colón laments about the lack of rice, beans, cheese, fruit, and, most of all, eggs. “What I like the most is making desserts, but now it’s hard to get eggs, milk or flour,” she revealed.

The brightside is, however, that Cuban cooks are finally able to share food-related tips and tricks with each other on a much larger scale than they were before the internet became more widespread in the country.

Now that many Cubans have access to communication apps like Facebook and WhatsApp, they can now connect with one another and make the most of what they have–however little that may be.

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