Things That Matter

Mexicans Are Questioning Their Government’s Decision To Release El Chapo’s Son After A Massive Gun Battle

An operation to capture one of Mexico’s most powerful drug lords failed disastrously Thursday as several Mexican security officers were held hostage by heavily armed cartel fighters who laid siege to the northern Mexican city of Culiacan.

Authorities had sought to detain Ovidio Guzman Lopez, a leader of the powerful Sinaloa cartel and the son of notorious drug boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. But after briefly capturing their target, security forces ultimately retreated without him, a move Mexico’s leaders defended as necessary to save lives.

Police had attempted to capture one of El Chapo’s sons but a massive gun battle took place across the capital of Sinaloa – Culiacán.

When authorities arrived at the home in an upscale Culiacan neighborhood where Guzman was staying, they were fired upon, Mexican Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said at a news conference. Authorities returned fire, took control of the house and found four occupants inside, including 28-year-old Guzman, he said.

But soon, Guzman’s defenders arrived and “surrounded the house with a greater force,” Durazo said. It was then, apparently, that cartel gunman took several soldiers or National Guard members hostage.

Videos published on social media showed a scene resembling a war zone, with gunmen, some wearing black ski masks over their faces, riding in the back of trucks firing mounted machine guns as vehicles burned. People could be seen running for cover as machine gun fire rattled around them. Drivers drove in reverse frantically to get away from the clashes.

“With the goal of safeguarding the well-being and tranquillity of Culiacan society, officials in the security Cabinet decided to suspend the actions,” Durazo said.

The cartel’s victory in subduing authorities was a stunning humiliation for the Mexican government, which has struggled to quell growing violence across the country.

Credit: AP / Scott Reusak

On Friday, security officials gave more details about exactly how Mexican authorities found themselves so overpowered.

Secretary of Defense Luis Cresencio Sandoval said at a news conference in Culiacan that members of the army and the newly formed National Guard were seeking to execute an extradition arrest warrant for Guzman that was issued by a federal judge in the United States.

The security forces decided to try to capture Guzman without authorization from their supervisors, he said.

“The group responsible for this action, in eagerness to achieve positive results, acted in a hasty manner, with poor planning,” he said, adding that the troops who carried out the operation had failed to obtain approval from a command superior.

Though Mexican President AMLO has declared the operation a success and praised his forces for having freed El Chapo’s son.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Friday that he backed the decisions of his security officials, and added that the army operation was based on an arrest warrant.

“The capture of one criminal cannot be worth more than the lives of people,” López Obrador said, calling the response to the operation “very violent” and saying many lives were put at risk.

“This decision was made to protect citizens. … You cannot fight fire with fire,” he added. “We do not want deaths. We do not want war.”

But many Mexicans took to social media to express their outrage and embarrassment over the failed operation.

Many expressed disappointment in the decision to release Guzman while recognizing that it may have been the only option to protect those living in the city. Some also pointed out that the failure of the operation and the poor planning that must of gone into such a massive operation for it to have failed so terribly.

Others expressed doubt in their ability to trust the government to protect them and whether or not the government can even claim sovereignty over a state that the cartel seems to control.

And if the whole situation couldn’t get more intense, El Chapo’s family is holding a press conference to thank the Mexican President.

El Chapo’s family, who are high-profile celebrities in their home state of Sinaloa, held a press conference to thank the President for supporting the release of one of their own.

Guzman had been wanted by authorities in the United States, but despite his extradition request, Mexican authorities said they had no choice but to release him to avoid further bloodshed.

Gun violence driven by Mexico’s thriving drug cartels has been spiraling out of control for months.

In fact, 2019 is set to break records when it comes to the number of homicides across the country. So far there have been more than 15,000 homicides – putting the country on course to surpass the 29,111 murders of last year, an all-time high.

That’s what makes this story all that more startling. It’s another massive shoot out involving police and drug cartels, but it’s making headlines around the world because of its intensity and the fact that one of El Chapo’s sons was the intended target.

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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

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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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