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.

Instagram / @bbeatrizgm

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.

Pinterest / Eaiara

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?

Instagram / @mttbrogan

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.

Instagram / @mexicanspecialforces

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?

Instagram / @revolucionmorena

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.

Instagram / @razielsforza

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.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Armed Police In Tulum Arrested A Gay Couple For Allegedly Kissing On The Beach

Things That Matter

Armed Police In Tulum Arrested A Gay Couple For Allegedly Kissing On The Beach

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Mexico has remained a popular tourist destination as people seek out places with fewer restrictions. However, Mexico’s popular beach destination of Tulum apparently still has some restrictions – for LGBTQ folks – that the police are quick to enforce.

A Canadian couple was briefly detained by police for allegedly kissing on the beach.

Police in the popular resort town of Tulum, about 90-minutes south of Cancun, briefly arrested a gay couple for kissing in public on a beach, alleging that the couple was not allowed to kiss in public because children were present.

According to local media reports, police said they were reacting to a report by someone else on the beach who had claimed that the men were “committing immoral acts.”

The couple were handcuffed together and ordered in to the back of a patrol vehicle until a crowd of onlookers formed and began to shout disapprovingly at police after one of the men explained to the crowd why they were being detained.

Outraged bystanders gathered around the couple and urged the police to let the men go.

The crowd began shouting in support of the couple, calling the actions homophobic and demanding the couple’s release.

The pressure from the crowd apparently prompted officers to release the men after a few minutes of dialogue. The presence of Escalante herself might also have been a factor.

In response to the arrest, Quintana Roo Tulum Police said: ‘We are an inclusive and impartial police both for residents and tourists who visit the state of Quintana Roo. So no abuse of authority will be tolerated.’

Video of the incident quickly went viral on social media with outrage being the common reaction.

Video and photos of the arrest went viral after on social media accounts, including that of local politician Maritza Escalante Morales, who denounced the actions of the officers. Escalante happened to be at the beach with her family when she noticed the officers approach the couple, she said, and joined the crowd to advocate for the couple’s release.

“I want to file a PUBLIC COMPLAINT, because the treatment and type of authorities we have in our municipality is inexcusable. Yesterday while I was on the beach with my family, we noticed around 4:30 that 2 police squads in their ATVs approached a group of young foreigners. After about 20 minutes, a patrol arrived and proceeded to arrest them with handcuffs,” she explained on TikTok.

“The policemen were VIOLENT,” Morales added, “and gave arguments such as ‘there are families and children and they cannot be seeing this. I am FURIOUS because it is not possible that in the XXI century this type of oppression against the LGBT+ community continues. We all deserve the same treatment, and appropriate sanctions must be applied to these authorities.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Teacher Received A Nissan Pickup Truck Decked Out As A Mobile Classroom

Things That Matter

This Teacher Received A Nissan Pickup Truck Decked Out As A Mobile Classroom

Like students around the world, kids in Mexico have been forced to take school online or tune into programming on public TV in order to learn. But that’s just the kids who are lucky enough to have access to Internet or a TV. Many students live in rural areas and lack the adequate resources to continue their studies amid the global pandemic.

But thankfully, there are many good samaritans out there (aka compassionate teachers) who have invented their own ways to bring the classroom to kids wherever they are.

A Mexican teacher was gifted a decked out pickup truck by Nissan.

Since schools were forced to close last year in April, Aguascalientes special education teacher Nallely Esparza Flores, has been driving four hours a day to educate students one-on-one at their homes from her truck bed, outfitted with a small table and chairs.

News of her project spread across social media, eventually reaching the corporate offices of Nissan México. This week, the company surprised Esparza with the gift of a new pickup truck specially outfitted with a small open-air mobile classroom built into the truck’s bed.

“Today I feel like my labors and the help that we give each day to children and their families is unstoppable,” she said on Twitter Wednesday, sharing photos of her new vehicle. “My students no longer have to take classes in the full heat of the sun,” she said.

Nissan representatives said they decided to give Esparza the adapted NP300 model, 4-cylinder truck after hearing her story because she was “an example of perseverance and empathy.”

“When we learned about the incredible work of this teacher, we got together to discuss in what way we could contribute to this noble work,” said Armando Ávila, a vice president of manufacturing.

The mobile classroom is pretty legit and will allow Esparza to continue her good deed.

Esparza inside her new classroom.

The decked out Nissan pickup truck has three walls (the other is a retractable sheeting) and a ceiling made with translucent panels to protect teacher and student from the elements while letting in natural light.

It also has retractable steps for easy access to the classroom, electrical connections, a whiteboard and an easily disinfected acrylic table and benches that are foldable into the wall to provide space. The table also has a built-in plexiglass barrier to allow social distancing.

Access to education in Mexico is highly inequitable.

Esparza, like many teachers across the country, found that not all distance learning was equal. Many of her students in Cavillo were from poor families without internet access. So she used social media networks to keep in touch with such students via cell phones, but even that was not necessarily an available option for all — and not ideal. Finally, she decided to solve the problem by hitting the road in her pickup truck.

According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), only 58% of students in Mexico had a home computer – the lowest percentage among all OECD countries. And only about one third (32%) of the school computers in rural schools in Mexico were connected to
the Internet, compared to more than 90% for schools located in urban areas.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com