Things That Matter

Hoping To Stop The Drug War, Mexico’s President Asks Drug Cartel Leaders To ‘Think Of Your Mother’

Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador came out with an appeal recently to the country’s cartels to think about their mamás. And, if we’re really honest, it almost sounded like the kind of lecture we’d suffer from our own mamás if we decided to act up. But, unlike the earful we get from our mamás, it seems unlikely that Lopez Obrador’s speech is going to create the guilt trip it needs to, in order to get Mexico’s cartels to clean up their act.

Okay, tell us what AMLO’s impression of a mamá-lecture sounds like.

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During what was a relatively routine kind of visit at the Tula rural hospital in southwestern Tamaulipas on Saturday, Lopez Obrador commented on recent gang violence. “They are in the wrong, it shouldn’t be like this, I call on them to find other things to do, to think about themselves, their families, their mothers: they know how much their mothers suffer because of the sublime love they have for their children, and they need to think about that,” he said to the locals.

But to be fair, it’s not all the President said.

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And, okay, he didn’t just say that and then that was the end of it. Lopez Obrador’s comments were part of a larger statement about crime and violence in the state of Tamaulipas. While he didn’t make any specific statements about what and whose violence he found most concerning, it was implied that the biggest challenge on the horizon has appeared in the form of the Cartel del Noreste – a splinter group formed from the Los Zetas cartel. “To hell with crime,” Lopez Obrador said. “It’s gross! Disgusting!”

So what’s the Cartel del Noreste been doing that’s got everyone so worked up?

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It was only a week ago reports had surfaced that gas stations towards the north of Tamaulipas were refusing to fill the tanks of army and police vehicles. The reason? Cartel del Noreste had threatened to attack any service stations that sold gas to the military and police. At the time of writing, the debacle is being investigated as a criminal case of refusal of service, with authorities seeking to address the issue without punishing the gas stations themselves.

Recently, cartels have stepped up their violent attacks – including ones on the police and military.

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The incident is only the latest that’s come from the cartels operating in the area. In fact, gang members have been responsible for direct attacks on army bases and patrols. It’s not uncommon for the cartels to wear counterfeit military uniforms, travel in large convoys, drive armored trucks and even redirect traffic, mimicking military activity. Believe it or not, in some areas of Tamaulipas, the cartels have set up their own surveillance systems in the streets in order to monitor the activities of local officials. Ultimately, while it’s great to see Lopez Obrador publicly putting his voice behind the authorities, gang activity has become considerably sophisticated

Surely AMLO doesn’t think that his speech is going to make that much of a difference to what’s been happening?

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At this stage, it’s a little late in the piece to start lecturing gang members on their activities, and bringing their mothers, of all people, into the conversation. If the cartels were that concerned about the effect their illicit activities were going to have on their mamás, then they wouldn’t be involved in the scene in the first place. And in all frankness, it’s more likely that the gang members stay in the cartels because they would be more afraid of retribution from gangs for trying to leave, than potential punishment from the government, should they choose to stay.

Many feel the President was trying to make a point that his administration doesn’t condone crime.

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Unfortunately, it would seem that Lopez Obrador is most likely making these comments to try and drive home the message that his administration doesn’t condone crime. It was only a few days beforehand that he was publicly talking about how the current administration has eliminated corruption within the government … since he’s come under fire for not doing enough to lower the crime rate in Mexico. However, it is worth noting that part of the reason why authorities are having issues cracking down on gang violence is because of the threat of violence against the officials friends and loved ones. And, of course, the kind of stunts that see businesses refusing to deal with authorities for fear of attracting attention from the likes of Cartel de Noreste. 

In the grand scheme of things, though, it is vital that gang violence be addressed within Mexico – and not just for the sanity of the locals. After all, plenty of places around Mexico are now responsible for holding asylum seekers while they wait to have their case heard by the US judicial system. The rise in gang violence is not only threatening the safety of Mexicans, but refugees alike.

Video Of A Mariachi Band Serenading A Hospital Full Of Health Workers And Covid-19 Patients In Mexico Goes Viral And OMG It’s Amazing

Things That Matter

Video Of A Mariachi Band Serenading A Hospital Full Of Health Workers And Covid-19 Patients In Mexico Goes Viral And OMG It’s Amazing

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Like the rest of the world, Mexico has been struggling during the Coronavirus pandemic. But as most of the country is in lockdown, tens of thousands of healthcare workers are on the frontlines. They’re logging long and hard hours – putting themselves at a huge risk to confront this growing beast.

From New York to Milan, and now in Mexico City, creative residents have come up with moving tributes to these heroes.

With few audiences to play to these days, a group of Mariachi players staged a show outside one of Mexico City’s largest hospitals.

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Plaza Garibaldi, in the historical center of Mexico City, is typically a Mariachi haven. There are usually hundreds of bands roving the square for willing customers asking for classic Mariachi hits – and it can be a lucrative job.

But on Tuesday, about 120 mariachis got together at a hospital to serenade those affected by the pandemic.

Julio César Barragán, the National Mariachi Association spokesman, said that the goal of the musicians was to lift the spirits of patients and health care workers at Mexico’s National Institute of Respiratory Diseases.

“We did this to give encouragement, solidarity and hope to the sick and to medical staff,” Barragán said, according to Mexican news portal Eje Central.

Obviously, such a powerful tribute quickly started going viral.

Wearing face masks (which trumpeters lowered temporarily in order to play their instruments) and maintaining a “healthy distance” from each other, the musicians assembled outside the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases, where they played a range of classic mariachi songs.

The serenata coincided with World Health Day, a World Health Organization initiative whose main purpose this year is to celebrate the work of nurses and midwives and remind world leaders of the critical role they play in keeping the world healthy.

The show of support comes at a time when most street musicians in Mexico City struggle with unemployment.

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Demand for Mariachis has fallen by 70%, as the COVID-19 crisis dealt a serious blow to the tourism industry in the capital.

“The situation is very critical,” according to Antonio Guzmán, a 35-year mariachi veteran in Mexico City. Adding: “I used to arrive at Plaza Garibaldi at 10 in the morning and leave at 8 at night. Now, with coronavirus, I have to arrive earlier, around 8 in the morning, without having had breakfast and I go home at 10 or 11 with nothing in my stomach,” he said.

“Sometimes I arrive home with my hands empty,” added Guzmán.

According to the Mexican newspaper Milenio, starting Thursday the mariachi association will start offering events on an online platform to raise money for the more than 2,000 families of mariachi musicians affected by the pandemic.

At the same time these healthcare workers are being celebrated, others across the country are facing discrimination.

According to a report by El Universal, fake news and ignorance are creating a hostile environment for healthcare workers across the country. Many are being discriminaed against, threatened, and even attacked.

Just days ago, residents in Morelos state (just south of Mexico City) protested outside a public hospital demanding Covid-19 patients not be treated in their city – they even threatened to burn down the building. One protester, even threatened the head doctor with being burned alive.

Healthcare workers have even stopped wearing their uniforms on their way to and from work for fear of being attacked.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.