Things That Matter

The Peso Plummets After Mexico’s Finance Minister Quits And Calls Out Corruption In AMLO’s Government

Mexico’s peso has taken a hit in value after the country’s finance minister decided to quit his job over disagreements with the president.

The decision by a top adviser to the Mexican president to resign while denouncing conflicts of interest in the government stunned the nation and its financial markets.

After news broke that the finance minister was resigning, the Mexican Peso lost a lot of value.

Credit: @CNBCNow / Twitter

Finance Minister Carlos Urzua’s abrupt decision to quit on Tuesday was the first major cabinet loss since Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office in December. The scorching tone of his resignation letter, from a public official known for extreme politeness and addressed to a president who made fighting corruption his central campaign issue, made the departure all the more surprising.

The unexpected departure of Carlos Urzua seven months into Lopez Obrador’s presidency sent stocks and the peso plunging and renewed worries among investors still wary after the president’s cancellation of a $13-billion airport project that was underway outside Mexico City.

In his resignation letter, Urzua called out corruption and conflicts of interest inside the government.

Credit: @CarlosM_Urzua / Twitter

“I’m convinced economic policy should be based on evidence, considering the various effects it may have and free from all extremism, whether from the right or left,” Urzua wrote in the letter posted on his Twitter account, adding that decisions by Lopez Obrador’s government on matters of public administration have lacked foundation. “However, during my term, these convictions weren’t shared.”

His tweet already has more than 25,000 retweets and nearly 7,000 comments.

By midday, the peso had fallen over 2% against the US dollar – a major slide for a currency considered to be quite healthy.

Credit: @LocalBusPod / Twitter

Within an hour, AMLO, as the leftist leader is known, nominated Arturo Herrera, Urzua’s deputy, to replace him. That helped to limit a tumble in the peso, which fell 1.2% at 3:23 pm local time, stopping losses of as much as 2.3% that had followed the publication of Urzua’s letter. The nation’s main stock index fell as much as 2%.

Markets are worried because according to many sources, Urzua was seen as the most responsible official at the finance ministry.

Credit: @GMonroyEnergy / Twitter

Many have admitted that it was not a secret that there were disagreements within AMLO’s government over economic policy.

Urzua had publicly opposed a law proposed by Lopez Obrador’s Morena party to reduce bank fees. He also opposed a proposal that the government dip into central bank reserves to fund infrastructure plans.

Some bickering is to be expected with any government, according to Coutiño, “there should be a consensus in terms of what the administration wants to do in the country.”

And the news simply shocked many, since Urzua had been one of AMLO’s most vocal allies and supporters.

Urzua has been a long-standing ally of Lopez Obrador, having been his finance secretary when AMLO was mayor of Mexico City at the start of the last decade. Herrera is also a former finance minister of AMLO’s in the nation’s capital.

READ: Protests In Mexico Over Increasing Gas Prices Turned Violent

Mexican YouTuber Eats Habanero Chillies And Ends Up In Hospital, Do Not Try At Home!

Entertainment

Mexican YouTuber Eats Habanero Chillies And Ends Up In Hospital, Do Not Try At Home!

Los Hermanos Lara Oficial / YouTube

Oh my, what some people are willing to do for a few thousand views! YouTuber and influencer culture has become an incredibly competitive field and only the most outrageous manage to stand out among literally thousands of individuals who offer a look into their lives and fight to get at least 15 minutes of fame. We have seen it all, from the early days of the Internet and fake identities being created, to the case of a woman in Australia who faked cancer recovery to become a wellness and health celebrity.

But a recent case in Mexico became much talked-about for all the wrong reasons… introducing the case of the man who ended up in hospital for eating two habanero chillies, one of the most picosa varieties that you can find.

Los Hermanos Lara are a comedic duo out of Yucatan, and Hugo went far beyond duty and faced one of his biggest fears… 

Credit: Los Hermanos Lara Oficial / YouTube

Hugo stated that he doesn’t eat chili, but was dared to eat two habaneros at once. He said yes, but said he would have one after the other. The rest of the crew said absolutely not…  And then all spicy hell broke loose!

Hugo put both chilies in his mouth at once… and started chewing 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Credit: Los Hermanos Lara Oficial / YouTube

We just cannot stress this enough: please do not try at home. If you suspect you won’t be able to handle the heat (quite literally), please just don’t! Besides risking a respiratory shock due to the sudden attack on your throat lining, your stomach can also suffer greatly, as the oils from some chili species can damage the inner layer of your gut. You will regret it. Do not succumb to peer pressure, repeat, do not succumb to peer pressure. 

Look at this face: it is a face of a guy who is about to experience real hell on Earth… 

Credit: Los Hermanos Lara Oficial / YouTube

Wait for it, wait for it… 

Wow! His tongue and lips and throat are exploding in a thousand sparks of flavor and pain!

Credit: Los Hermanos Lara Oficial / YouTube

Someone please call the firemen! This poor man just had a complete shock to his system and as funny as it might be it is actually pretty darn dangerous. Lara immediately turned red due to a sudden rush of blood to his face, and started to cough as the chili oils were being released, acting as an irritant in his mouth and upper respiratory tract. 

Then things started to get really, really bad…

Credit: Los Hermanos Lara Oficial / YouTube

Hugo was overcome by an uncontrollable coughing fit after he spit the habaneros. His companions started to get real worried and Hugo could just not stop coughing… 

An ambulance was called! 

Credit: Los Hermanos Lara Oficial / YouTube

They gave him water, panicked… things went from laughter to chaos in a few seconds, which reminds us that in life unexpected turns are always there waiting for us. 

Hugo is fine now, thanks for asking, but the incident was like straight out of a telenovela (but also a reminder to not do silly things that can put us in danger.)

Credit: Los Hermanos Lara Oficial / YouTube

The other half of the Lara duo released an announcement on social media, stating that Hugo was fine and that they decided to release the video so rumors didn’t get too out of control: “Hugo Lara is in stable condition. We didn’t think that this would get so out of control, and we will show you the video we recorded, so that you can see what really happened…”

You can watch the incident here. We are glad that Hugo is fine, but it could have ended very, very badly for him. Sometimes people have allergic reactions that they are unaware of, so that coughing fit could have signaled a much more serious issue.

So what are habaneros anyway and why are they so damn hot (and delicious)?

Credit: Bonnie Plants

Habaneros are a staple of yucateca food, and one of the most profitable crops in the state. The habanero chili comes originally from the Amazon, but its popularity spread up, reaching Mexico. Its scientific name is Capsicum chinense Habanero Group and it is considered one of the hottest chilies in the world. Like other chilies, habaneros contain a substance called capsaicin that stimulates areas of the skin and tongue that are sensitive to heat and pain.

And when you say that a chili is burning your tongue you are onto something: capsaicin tricks the brain into thinking that the body’s surface is actually on fire, so the fright and flight response is well justified! Trivia fact: chili species developed their heat to stop fungus from developing on them and killing them. Damn, nature can be pretty smart, much smarter than us mortal humans. 

People Are Celebrating Mexico’s Planned Bill To Fine Companies That Copy Indigenous Designs

Culture

People Are Celebrating Mexico’s Planned Bill To Fine Companies That Copy Indigenous Designs

MasdeMx.com

Much has been said and written about the material pillaging that indigenous communities in what is now the Americas have been subject to since Christopher Columbus “discovered” the continent. Mineral resources, agricultural knowledge and dignity: they were all taken in the name of “civilization”. These processes of abuse towards the original owners of a land that was never willingly ceded have continued well into today. 

Some goods are immaterial, which means that more than objects or places, they are cultural goods such as knowledge, practices and methods of doing things.

Credit: secadero_uno / Instagram

 Such an immaterial good are the designs that indigenous communities imprint on clothes, pottery and art. However, because there is no single author for these, creations are nor protected under intellectual property, which is how companies and designers take advantage and basically steal designs. These are not homages, but direct acts of plagiarism! 

But there have been people that have been profiting from traditional designs

Credit: Mexico News Daily

Zara, the massive Spanish retailer, has been accused of stealing designs both from indigenous communities and from independent designers. Indigenous groups from the Mexican state of Chiapas, for example, have said that the copycat designs affect their livelihood because potential customers, including tourists, can just go to the shops and get them.

As reported by Mexico Daily News, there is a discrepancy in the hours of labor that indigenous artisans invest in each garment and what they get paid, compared to the profit made by brands like Zara. as artisans “dedicate more than 50 hours to making each embroidered garment, selling them for 200 pesos (US $10). In contrast, Zara manufactures the same garment and sells it at 599 pesos ($32.)”

And let’s not forget that Zara and other international companies have been found to use abusive and exploitative production methods in other countries such as Bangladesh. Consumers are also to blame, as a representative for the advocacy group Impacto told Mexico Daily News: “There’s also a contradiction, because they pay high prices at a store but then don’t want to spend in an indigenous community.”

So if you visit Mexico or another developing country and you want to take the price down, regatear as they say in Spanish, when buying from a local artisan, well, then shame on you! 

And if we think a bit further, international brands like Zara sometimes profit from a global network of abuse and injustice.

Let’s not forget that six years ago a fatal collapse in Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza building, where brands such as H&M and Zara outsourced clothes manufacturing, caused deaths and revealed the industry malpractices that do not guarantee workers’ safety. Since then international brands have looked into their production processes, but problems remain. Needless to say, what Global South workers get is a minuscule amount compared to what US or Spanish workers would demand, so the profit on each piece is huge. All in the name of money, right? So the chain of mistreatment sometimes start with stealing designs and continues with paying super low wages to people that cannot afford not to be employed, even if it is under very precarious conditions. 

So the motion that is being considered in the Mexican Senate makes a ton of sense.

Credit: masdemx.com

The Mexican Senate is considering imposing a hefty fine to those who copy indigenous designs, which are de facto intellectual and cultural property that can make money, so there is a monetary value attached to them.

As reported by Mexico Daily News, “The proposal being discussed by the Senate culture commission would penalize the theft of indigenous cultural elements with fines up to 4.2 million pesos (US $218,000.)”

The proposal includes a legal framework through which indigenous communities can denounce cases in which they feel like their creative and cultural property has been stolen. The Senate’s cultural commission has focused on indigenous affairs since MORENA, the incumbent president’s party, got into power earlier this year. For all its controversial decisions, the current government has in fact done more to protect indigenous communities than previous administrations.

In some cases the copycat models are blatantly direct: such is the case of a chinanteco design copied by the brand Intropia and sold in over 170 euros. Other brands that have appropriated designs from indigenous communities from Chiapas, Oaxaca and other states such as Hidalgo are  Carolina Herrera, Dior, Isabel Marant, Nestlé, Madewell, Mango and Desigual. The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has found at least 39 cases of this type of theft. If the proposal goes through, a database of designs of indigenous and Afro-Mexican designs will be created.