Things That Matter

Mexico Feared A Woman Was Kidnapped But She Is Alive And Well, But People Are Blaming Her And WTF

An episode that became viral in Mexican social and broadcast media brought out the best and worst of society when it comes to responses to the current crisis that women are facing in the country. Karen, a 27-year-old mother of three, was feared kidnapped after she sent a text to her mother telling her that the cab driver of the vehicle she boarded looked suspicious.

Karen’s brother started an online hunt for her sister when the family didn’t hear from her for a few hours. The story became viral and multiple hashgtags related to the search were shared thousands of times. Karen came back the next day after a night out. So Mexico should have released a collective sigh of relief, right? Well, that wasn’t exactly the case. 

First things first: the fact that Karen was found is EXCELLENT NEWS.

The fact that Karen was alright is the best news ever. There is no way around it: yes, her mother and brother should be upset about Karen not following up her original text to say she was OK, but that is a private family affair and not something that people should get up on arms about. Yes, she was wrong to lie at her mother but that is between the two of them. This message, which plainly says that the taxi driver looks suspicious, is just like the millions of texts sent in Mexico just for some peace of mind. 

Seriously, some people were actually disappointed  that she was found alive and well, which speaks of the ideological violence against women in the country.

First of all, Karen’s brother was totally within his right to call to action when the family didn’t know Karen’s whereabouts. What they did by starting a search is what any Mexican family would do given the climate of violence against women when it comes to their health, safety, sexual independence and life. Any Mexico City family would have thought the worst.

When Karen came back home after a night out, some social media users were actually acting as if they were insulted! Like it was owed to them for Karen to actually be kidnapped or dead. This mob mentality is harmful but also a symptom of how normalized feminicide and overall physical violence towards women has become. 

The government actually went through the effort of finding security cameras that show her having fun at a bar (just like, well, any normal person.)

When Karen was found alive, the government and mainstream media disseminated a video in which Karen is seen partying at a bar. Yes, she drank. Yes, she was probably intoxicated… or not… whatever. The fact is that they went through the trouble of going through security camera footage just to lavarse las manos and blame Karen on all the chaos that was originated, and rightfully so.

If the authorities went through this much trouble every time a woman disappeared then perhaps the numbers of murdered women in Mexico each year wouldn’t be in the thousands. So let us get this straight: they solve the mystery of a woman’s whereabouts within hours when she is found alive and just in the middle of a misunderstanding originated in a lie, but there are families that even after years of searching for their loved ones have no clear answers and have to literally walk the desert for months with the hope if finding some closure. 

What sucks is that the first thing her family thought was the worst, because that IS ACTUALLY WHAT HAPPENS TO THOUSANDS OF WOMEN IN MEXICO.

So was Karen’s family overreacting when they triggered a search? Absolutely not. For all they knew, Karen would have been raped, murdered, dismembered and dissolved in acid. Yes, it gets that bad, so just be happy that Karen is fine, people! Daniel, Karen’s brother, took on social media to thank those involved in the search: “Thank you all for the support, Karen Espíndola, my sister is already at home. She did not arrive in the best conditions but the investigations will continue. I really do not wish this feeling on anyone.”

But fact is that millions of Mexicans live in a constant state of anxiety because the worst is a very real possibility. As Daily Mail Australia points out: “At least 1,533 people have been kidnapped in Mexico during the first 10 months of 2019, including 152 in the month of October.”

And it gets worse, according to El Universal, at least 3,663 women were murdered in Mexico in 2018, and 2019 numbers could be even higher as it is the most violent year on record. 

Hundreds Of Mexicans Being Treated For HIV Were Being Given Obsolete Medications From The 1980s

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Hundreds Of Mexicans Being Treated For HIV Were Being Given Obsolete Medications From The 1980s

Gobierno de Mexico

For a long time, it was considered that Mexico had averted the worst of the HIV/AIDS crisis that has plagued much of the Americas. For a country of its size and population, Mexico historically has had a very low incidence rate of HIV infection – even among populations considered at a high-risk.

Mexico is also a nation that has a robust public healthcare system that provides medical care to its citizens free-of-charge or at very low prices, including HIV medications.

Many looked to Mexico as a role model for developing countries confronting the worldwide HIV epidemic. However, after recent reports about obsolete medications being given to HIV and AIDS patients many are beginning to question that way of thinking.

Mexico’s Health ministry revealed that Mexico had been buying outdated medications from suppliers that no longer worked.

Credit: Gobierno de Mexico

Hugo López-Gatell, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, revealed this morning that some drug providers were selling outdated and obsolete HIV drugs to the federal government. Many of the drug being used by the government to treat HIV-positive patients were from the 1980s and have been proven ineffective around the world.

At a press conference, he explained that in late 2019, authorities realized that drug companies were intentionally manipulating the public bidding process in a scheme to sell outdated drugs to the public health ministry.

“The combination of medicines tells us about the enormous lack of proper HIV treatment because they [the HIV medications] are not adequate. In many cases we found the use of old medicines, we found the use of the first HIV drug that was invented or discovered at the beginning of the 80s. It is a drug that is already obsolete worldwide and in Mexico was still being used,” he said.

According to the government, however, it was the fault of the drug companies that were gaming a public health system.

Credit: Gobierno de Mexico

“What did we find?” That here were pressures from representatives of the pharmaceutical industry. We discovered that it was one group who made the medicines and that there were very few who distributed them. But they tie up the government with exclusive agreements to the different companies that manufacture the medicines,” he explained.

So basically, the distributors put pressure on doctors who specifically prescribed retroviral medications. He also clarified that purchases have always been made at the national level, however, they made no sense with the amounts of what they asked for in each state.

Despite this troubling revelation, the Ministry of Health has restated its commitment to securing the best care for those in need of HIV treatment.

Credit: Gilead Sciences

The undersecretary added: “In May, we completely modified the HIV treatment scheme. First, we made it clear that we wanted the best medications, the most effective, the safest; second, we identified how many people could have this ideal medication scheme and it turns out that there were many more than those who were taking advantage of it.”

This latest news comes just months after the country reformed its HIV treatment regime, leaving many fearful of shortages.

Public health officials warned of the possibility that thousands of Mexicans who rely on HIV treatment could be left without life-saving services after the government changed the way it funds treatment.

Reforms announced last month to centralize drug procurement risk sparking shortages, they say, while the government counters that it has ample supplies and hopes its changes will save money and cut corruption in the drug buying process. It’s these reforms they say that will help combat problems such as being sold outdated and obsolete drugs.

However, many HIV activists warn of a public health crisis.

In February, the government also said that it would no longer fund civil society organizations, leaving more than 200 groups fighting the disease without resources for core activities, such as HIV testing.

Mexico Pushes Back Against Migrant Caravan: Children Are Missing And Families Separated

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Mexico Pushes Back Against Migrant Caravan: Children Are Missing And Families Separated

Jose Torres / Getty

Last week news broke that another migrant caravan was forming in Honduras, in an attempt to safely cross Guatemala and Mexico on the way to the United States. Immediately, the reports were met with a mix of panic and indignity among Central American leaders who vowed to stop the caravan before reaching the US-Mexican border.

And it looks like that plan has been put into motion. Although Guatemala allowed many migrants through its territory, upon reaching the border with Mexico, many migrants were turned away, or worse.

A caravan of nearly 3,000 people has been met with force as they’ve tried to cross into Mexico from Guatemala.

Credit: Jose Torres / Getty

According to Guatemala, at least 4,000 people entered from Honduras since Wednesday, making for one of the biggest surges since three Central American governments signed agreements with the Trump administration giving them more of the responsibility for dealing with migrants. Even though these exact same countries are ill-equipped to handle the influx of migrants – let alone fight back against their country’s own poverty, violence, and corruption that force many migrants to flee in the first place.

Mexican government officials ordered them to block entry into the country. 

Mexico’s National Immigration Institute issued a statement saying it would detain any migrants without legal status, and deport them if they couldn’t legalize their status. 

Video footage showed scattered groups of migrants throwing rocks at a few members of the National Guard militarized police who were on the banks of the river attempting to thwart illegal crossings, while hundreds of others ran past into Mexico.

Hopes were raised on Friday after Mexican President AMLO announced that there were 4,000 jobs along the southern border available to migrants.

The day after AMLO’s statement regarding possible job opportunities, more than 1,000 migrants attempted to cross into Mexico. According to the country’s National Institute of Migration (INM), each migrant was interviewed and told about opportunities with two government development programs. which will be implemented along the southern border and in both El Salvador and Honduras.

Meanwhile, as migrants waited to be processed for entry into Mexico, a loudspeakers warned migrants against applying for asylum in the US. However, many migrants are doubtful when it comes to Mexico’s offer of work.

“I don’t believe that. It is a lie,” one migrant told Al Jazeera. “They are just trying to find a means trap us and to debilitate the caravan.”

The violence at the Mexico-Guatemala border has left children separated from their families as crowds were sent fleeing from pepper spray.

Credit: Jeff Abbott / Flickr

As Mexican security forces launched tear gas and pepper spray into a crowd of migrants attempting to enter the country – hundreds were forced to flee. The ensuing chaos left children lost without their parents and mothers and fathers desperately searching for their children.

A Reuters witness spoke to at least two mothers said their children went missing amid the chaos, as the migrants on Mexican soil scattered in an attempt to avoid being detained by Mexican officials.

“We didn’t come to stay here. We just want to cross to the other side,” said Ingrid, 18, a Honduran migrant. “I don’t want to go back to my country because there is nothing there, just hunger.”

Many have harsh words for Mexico’s President AMLO – calling him a puppet and a coward.

Although most agree that every country has the right to enforce its own immigration laws, many are upset with AMLO for the way his administration has cracked down on Central American migrants. Many see the crackdown as little more than bowing to pressure from Trump – turning him into a puppet of the US.

So what should AMLO do when dealing with unauthorized migrants and pressure from a US President?

First, violence and attacks on migrants simply crossing territory should never be on the table. Second, AMLO’s administration should let the caravan reach the US-border and let the asylum process play out as it was meant to do under international law. Just because Trump wants AMLO to join him in breaking international norms, doesn’t mean he should.

But many doubt that will ever happen. Neither of these presidents, Trump nor AMLO, will change course to support legal asylum claims.

So what’s next? Will Mexico relent and agree to pay for Trump’s border wall? Don’t dismiss the idea, not when the Mexican president has so far carried out Trump’s every whim.