Things That Matter

Mexico’s President AMLO Says He Doesn’t Support A Bill Ending The Separation Of Church & State

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known fondly as AMLO, has opposed a bill that would soften Mexico’s separation of church and state. The draft bill was proposed by a member of his left-wing Morena party. The legal separation of church and state has become all the more essential to maintaining democracy and protecting non-Christians (particularly indigenous people and Muslims) who have become increasing targets of right-wing extremist governments in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

According to the Associated Press, the new law would change the Law of Religious Associations and Public Worship to remove language that legally separates the state and churches. Experts have already weighed in claiming the law would benefit mostly evangelicals. 

AMLO thinks this issue was resolved 50 years ago. 

“I think it’s a subject that shouldn’t be touched,” Lopez Obrador said at a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City.  “It’s been resolved for more than a century and a half. The majority of Mexicans are in agreement with the lay state prevailing, what the constitution establishes.”

The controversial measure submitted by Senator Soledad Luévano Cantú would have allowed religious groups more access to “all manner of media, including TV, radio and newspapers,” and soften church property ownership regulations. It would allow the church and state to partner for social projects, allow chaplains to work on military bases and security forces, along with providing protections for conscientious objectors. 

AMLO says the separation is not an indicator of anti-religiousness but rather the law exists to provide protections for believers and non-believers. 

“‘Render unto God what is God’s and unto Caesar what is Caesar’s’” López Obrador said

Many religious leaders in Mexico agree with AMLO. 

The most senior Catholic leader of the country agrees with AMLO. Mexico has had a contentious relationship with the Catholic church, which had powerful overreach, leading to a civil war known as the “Cristiada.” However, in 1992 tensions eased following a meeting with the Vatican that resulted in looser restrictions for religious organizations. 

“I completely agree with the president’s statement this morning, that a secular state is one that guarantees freedoms and therefore religious freedom. The president said it very clearly and we agree,” said Carlos Aguiar Retes, primate archbishop of Mexico.

The president of the National Brotherhood of Evangelical Christian Churches, Arturo Farela, also spoke out in support of AMLO, however, he doesn’t believe the bill would have ended the separation of church and state altogether. 

“When he [López Obrador] asserts that the lay state is immovable and the separation of church and state must remain, we agree with that thought. The lay state must be a guarantor of freedoms including religious beliefs. The bill proposes that . . .” Farela said. “It doesn’t seek to end the separation [of church and state], it only proposes religious freedom,” 

Luévano’s plans would help evangelicals seize more power.

“With respect, tolerance and without taboos, we can work together so that thousands of religious associations in our country can help Mexico become a country where we all live better-off,” Luévano wrote on Twitter. 

The Senator describes her religious as “Guadalupana.” The Virgin of Guadalupe is a symbol of the Roman Catholic church, but also a saint that many Mexicans identify with regardless of their religious affiliations.  

“Andrew Chesnut, professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, said Luévano’s initiative would appear to benefit mostly evangelicals and other minority religious groups in a country where 81% are Roman Catholic and the church enjoys more influence than probably anywhere else in the hemisphere,” according to the Associated Press. “Chesnut said evangelicals likely see an opportunity to win more space in Mexican society under the administration of a ‘fellow traveler.’”

While evangelicalism has been on the rise in Mexico for a least a decade, U.S. Evangelical Christians began targeting Latin American countries in 2014 — after the United States federal government began to pursue the legalization of same-sex marriage. 

“If I were to speculate, the Religious Right in the U.S. sees the writing on the wall regarding gay marriage, and are going to try to influence global movements in Latin American and Africa – two places that still have very strong anti-gay secular and religious sentiments,” said Arlene Sanchez-Walsh, a Latino church expert told Reuters in 2014. 

Right-wing evangelical leaders have since taken over Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile while infiltrating other countries like Mexico and the Dominican Republic. While the intentions of the bill may have been innocent (although are religious bills in politics ever innocent?) it could pose a great threat to Mexico’s future. Fortunately, it has no chance of being approved with AMLO’s opposition to it. 

However, based on the rise in right-wing leaders around the globe, one should keep a close eye on what’s happening in Mexico. 

“The lay state in Mexico almost has a kind of sacred status,” Chestnut said.

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

Things That Matter

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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Mexico Is Owning The Instagram-Worthy World Of Glamping With These Bubble Hotels

Culture

Mexico Is Owning The Instagram-Worthy World Of Glamping With These Bubble Hotels

Right now just about everyone is itching to go on vacation. But considering that we’re still mid-pandemic and the call remains to socially distance, what can one do?

Sure, glamping is nothing new – it’s filled our Instagram feeds for years and was around long before that – but it may just provide travelers with that socially-distanced staycation that so many of us need right about now. Or, better yet, wait a little while longer and get yourself to Mexico where several new glamping bubble hotels are popping up.

Mexico will soon have three “bubble hotel” options for tourists looking for the next level of “glamping.”

When you think of camping, many of us think of bugs, not showering, and doing our private business behind a bush somewhere. While that’s still definitely an option for those of us that are into it, glamping has been a trend towards making the camping experience a more comfortable one.

Glamping has been gaining popularity among nature lovers, who also want to enjoy those everyday creature comforts, but in the midst of beautiful landscapes. That’s why bubble hotels have been popping up across Mexico, to offer clients a unique stay, close to nature they’re the perfect ‘getaway’ to get out of your daily routine.

From the bosque outside Mexico City to the deserts of Baja, Mexico is a glamping paradise. 

These bubble hotels have rooms described by travel guidebook publisher Lonely Planet as essentially inflatable, transparent domes designed to allow guests to cocoon themselves in nature without quite leaving their material comforts behind. 

There are already two such properties across Mexico with a third which will begin welcoming guests sometime toward the end of this year.

One of those that is already operational is Alpino Bubble Glamping in Mexico City while the other is the Campera Bubble Hotel in the Valle de Guadalupe wine region of Baja California.

Located in the Cumbres de Ajusco National Park in the south of the capital, the former has just two “bubbles,” a 40-square-meter deluxe one that goes for 4,500 pesos (about US $220) a night and a 25-square-meter standard where a stay costs a slightly more affordable 4,000 pesos.

Both have views of the Pico del Águila, the highest point of the Ajusco, or Xitle, volcano, and come equipped with telescopes that guests can use to get a better view of the surrounding scenery and night sky.

Bubble glamping isn’t the camping our parents dragged us out to do in the woods as kids.

Credit: Alpino Bubble Hotel

Sure you may be connecting with nature and enjoying awesome activities like horseback riding, stargazing, hiking or rafting, but these properties come with all the creature comforts we’re used to. 

Move nights, wifi, breakfast in bed, warm showers, luxurious bedding, and even a full bar are all standard amenities at many of these properties.

What do you think? Would you be up to stay the night at one of these bubble hotels?

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