Things That Matter

Mexico’s Murder Rate Is At A Historical High And The Debate About Border Policies Is More Caliente Than Ever

Since former president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa launched a full-fledged military attack on Mexico’s drug cartels back in 2006, the country has been locked in a humanitarian crisis. Clandestine graveyards pop up all around the country and families take matters into their own hands and try to find their loved ones’ remains.

Entire towns live in fear of both the army and the cartel sicarios (hitmen). Young men are lured or kidnapped to become “soldiers” for organized crime, and young women fall prey to human traffickers who exploit their bodies. Some politicians and journalists live in fear of being executed. There are regions, such as particular municipalities in states such as Guerrero and Michoacán, where the authorities have ceased to try to restore the order and self-defense groups have popped up. Things in some regions of the country are, to say the least, dire. 

In 2018, a leftist candidate who had sought the presidency in two previous occasions, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, won the election and promised to stop violence and corruption. Things have been a bit more complicated than that. 

The first half of 2019 has seen the all-time high murder rate in the country’s history: at least 17,608 people have been murdered.

Credit: @Mauricio_35M / Twitter

Let that sink in. This number is just unbelievable: translate the figure into a small town and you will get the magnitude of the problem. Of course, many are blaming the incumbent president. To the murders one has to add the number of sexual assaults, kidnappings and other crimes that put people at risk. 

This figure translates into 97 murders per day!

Credit: @elarmadoguerra / Twitter

As the Associated Press reports, “Since Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador entered office in December 2018, there have been 20,599 murders recorded”. Things definitely cannot change de un dia para otro, but reality has really bitten deep into people’s hopes in the new administration. 

Numbers are actually increasing.

Credit: @AlDiaDallas / Twitter

The Daily Mail breaks down the numbers: “The number of murders grew by 5.3% compared to the same period of 2018, when 16,714 people were killed.

Mexico saw 3,080 killings in June, an increase of over 8% from the same month a year ago, according to official figures. The nation of almost 125 million now sees as many as 100 killings per day nationwide.”

Violence is particularly concentrated in the Northern states, as reported by the AP: “The northeastern state of Nuevo León reported 486 murders from January until June in contrast with 282 during the same period in 2018. In particular, drug cartel turf wars have become increasingly bloody in the northern state of Sonora, where the number of homicides was up by 69% in the first half of 2019. Officials registered 564 killings after 337 were murdered last year. But in Sinaloa, where the cartel of convicted drug lord Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán is based, homicides declined by 23% so far this year compared to last.” 

North of the Border conservative anti-immigration voices have seen this as an opportunity to spill their bile.

Credit: @ApostleRichThomas / Twitter

Like this dude, whose logic is just not right: man, people are FLEEING the violence, they are victims, not perpetrators! This type of logic makes us think of how damaging the label of “bad hombres” continues to be.

This is also the stance taken by the highest levels of government, as reported by Daily News Sri Lanka: “However, President Trump has often referred to Mexico ‘one of the most dangerous countries in the world’ and claimed the murder rate in the country has increased. A recent Trump tweet said “The Coyotes and Drug Cartels are in total control of the Mexico side of the Southern Border. They have labs nearby where they make drugs to sell into the U.S. Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries in the world, must eradicate this problem now. Also, stop the MARCH to U.S.”, and could raise questions about it being a ‘safe country’.”

Human rights activists, on the contrary, use this murder rate record to point out how inadequate the #RemainInMexico policy is.

Credit: @HumanRightsFirst / Twitter

Let’s repeat this again for those anti immigration voices: people migrate because they have no other choice in their home countries, not because they want to. They see it as a way of survival rather than as an opportunity to profit from the system. 

The crisis has also emboldened some pro-legalization voices.

Credit: Twitter. @mcgovern

He has got a point: the main problem is that Mexico is the passageway of drugs into the most profitable market in the world, the United States. A new legal framework would certainly reshuffle the status quo of criminal networks. Reality is a bit more complicated.

Others in the United States point out that some cities in the country are as violent as towns South of the Border.

Credit: @ChrisCoons / Twitter

Violence in Mexico is also a good opportunity to talk about communities that live at risk, such as some areas of Detroit – right here in the US.

El Chapo’s Daughter Is Using His Name And Face to Launch A Beer Brand After She Launched A Fashion Line

Culture

El Chapo’s Daughter Is Using His Name And Face to Launch A Beer Brand After She Launched A Fashion Line

elchapo701 / Instagram

It seems like everybody today is trying to get in on the alcohol business. Whether it’s The Rock with a new tequila brand or Ryan Reynolds buying a gin company, it seems to be all the rage right now that even “El Chapo” is getting his own line of beers. 

Say hello to the “El Chapo 701” brand run by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s daughter Alejandrina Guzman Salazar, who also is behind a fashion and lifestyle company built around her jailed father’s brand. The new line of beer, called El Chapo Mexican Lager, was unveiled for the first time to the public on Jan. 14 at a fashion trade show in Guadalajara, Mexico. 

“It hasn’t been released for sale to the public yet. I just brought some to display,” spokeswoman Adriana Ituarte told AFP, as the beer line is currently still waiting on government approval to sell beer in Mexico. The alcohol displayed at the trade showed brown, black and white labeled craft beer bottles with the Sinaloa cartel leader’s infamous mustache face adorned on them. 

Alejandrina Guzman Salazar’s company is banking on the idea that people will want to buy craft beer, labeled and named after her infamous father, at bars and markets in Mexico. 

Beer lovers won’t have to break the bank either when it comes to purchasing the new line of beer which comes in at 70.10 pesos, or about $3.73, for a 355 ml bottle. There is also the name of the brand, “El Chapo 701” which has an interesting meaning behind it. The “701” is a reference to El Chapo’s place on the 2009 list of the world’s richest persons from Forbes magazine (estimated at $1 billion). 

The “El Chapo” beer is expected to have a large fan base due to the notoriety of the imprisoned drug cartel leader and a growing market for collectible celebrity alcoholic beverages like these. The company is hoping that, besides just the name and branding of the beer, fans will actually enjoy the drink and keep coming back to it.

“I don’t know if we take the label off and the beer is good if it’s going to sell,’  Ituarte told the Daily Mail. “But obviously the brand gives the plus of sale, we continue with the idea that we are selling and as long as the product is good, people buy it and like it.”

Ituarte said at the trade show that the product will be sold at bars throughout Mexico that also sell stock craft beer, a market that has flourished in Mexico City in recent years due to the growth of microbreweries. The lager was produced by La Chingonería, a Mexico City-based brewery company. 

“This is an artisanal beer, with 4 percent alcohol. This prototype is a lager, and it’s made up of malt, rice, and honey so it’s good,” Ituarte told Daily Mail. “And the idea is for it to be sold at bars that stock craft beer.”

This is not the first time that “El Chapo” has seen his name being cashed in on by his family. There has been a clothing and accessories line made in tribute of Guzman.

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Salazar’s company has already cashed in on her father’s name with a line of T items such as t-shirts, belts, purses, and jackets all adorned with imagery of Guzman and the 701 logo. The brand has been quite successful in under a year of going public which shows the power of “El Chapo’s” name. 

Salazar isn’t the only one getting in on the drug lord’s name. Last March Guzmán’s wife, Emma Coronel, launched a fashion and leisurewear line, licensed by her husband. “I’m very excited to start this project, which was based on ideas and concepts that my husband and I had years ago,” Coronel told CNN in a statement at the time of the launch. “It is a project dedicated to our daughters.”

These dedicated “El Chapo” brands show the notoriety and the power of his name when it comes to marketing. If this new beer line is anything like the clothing and accessories already released under his name, there is sure to be a market for this too. 

Guzman is currently serving a life sentence at a supermax prison in Colorado after being convicted on drug trafficking and weapons charges in 2019. El Chapo was forced to forfeit $12.6 billion as part of his punishment.

READ: California Man Is Using His Culture To Create Hilarious And Super Relevant Mexican Greet Cards

The Bodies Of A California Couple Were Found On Their Tijuana Property And Now Police Have Uncovered Two More

Things That Matter

The Bodies Of A California Couple Were Found On Their Tijuana Property And Now Police Have Uncovered Two More

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Last week a California couple was reported missing by their family in Garden Grove – a suburb of Los Angeles. The couple had traveled to Tijuana (where they were originally from) to collect the rent from the tenant who was living on their property. Unfortunately, they never returned home.

With the ever increasing violence in Tijuana, their family feared the worse and a few days later was confirmed when police located their bodies. However, the story continues to develop as a total of three more bodies have been found on their property.

Investigators say that two more bodies (for a total of 5) have been discovered on a Tijuana property where a California couple disappeared.

Credit: Fiscalía General / Baja California

Jesus Ruben Lopez Guillen, 70, and his wife Maria Teresa Lopez, 65, of Garden Grove, a couple with dual U.S.-Mexico citizenship, vanished on January 10 after they crossed the border to collect more than $6,700 in rent from tenants of two houses they owned in Tijuana. Their bodies turned up in one of the houses, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported, citing Mexican investigators.

The attorney general’s office for the state of Baja California, just south of San Diego, said late Saturday the second set of bodies – one male and the other female – are in a state of advanced decomposition. All four bodies were covered in lime when they were found by investigators.

The story started when the couple traveled to Tijuana to collect rent on properties they owned – and then never returned to California.

Credit: Garden Grove Police Department

When the couple failed to return home the next day, their daughter, Norma Lopez, reported the couple missing.

Garden Grove police opened a missing person case after the Guilléns were reported missing. Garden Grove police Lt. Carl Whitney said their daughter had been tracking her parents though the Find My iPhone app, which last showed the couple at their property in the Colonia Obrero neighborhood south of downtown Tijuana, about four miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. Then the phone went dead, and she could not track them anymore, Whitney said.

Police have since arrested their son-in-law in connection with the murders.

The man accused of killing the couple, their son-in-law, was ordered by a judge to remain in police custody while the state’s prosector’s office continues to gather evidence. According to authorities, they likely have enough evidence to charge him the murders of each of the victims found on the two properties.

Authorities suspect the man killed his in-laws in a dispute over money. They say he confessed to burying them on one of their properties, where he lived.

The judge during the hearing Sunday ruled Santiago will remain in jail under “forced disappearance” charges.

A “forced disappearance” charge is not as serious as a homicide charge, but it is still a felony in Mexico. It means the man is accused of trying to make the couple disappear. The charge can be used in cases of living or deceased victims. The man also was accused of something similar to obstruction of justice, for allegedly misleading investigators and refusing to assist in the investigation.

Prosecutors said investigators have obtained cell phone records, text messages and video camera footage of the defendant and of the victims’ truck — evidence prosecutors said contradicted his statements to police.