Things That Matter

Mexico’s Drug Violence is Only Getting Worse During the Coronavirus Pandemic and It Doesn’t Show Signs of Stopping

As much of the world stays indoors to combat the pandemic, crime has fallen drastically in many places. In Chicago, drug arrests have dropped by 42% in the weeks since the city shut down, the Associated Press reports, while in Los Angeles, the rate of key crimes plummeted 30% after March 15. There are similar reports coming out of cities from across Latin America.

Unfortunately, the drop in violence hasn’t occurred in Mexico – a country that recorded its deadliest month ever in March (not counting the deaths caused by Coronavirus). While many Mexicans have followed the strict social-distancing guidelines promoted by the government, this hasn’t translated to a drop in crime.

Violent crime reached record highs across Mexico in March.

March was one of the deadliest months in Mexico’s modern history – and it wasn’t because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Drug-related violence continues to rage out of control across much of the country, suggesting that coronavirus-related social distancing measures were not enough to curb the violence. Other countries in the region saw a sudden fall in crime as the virus spread.

The country saw 2,585 murders in March, an average of around 83 per day, according to data on victims reported by state prosecutors and the federal government. That was the highest monthly number since June 2019. 

President Lopez Obrador (AMLO), who took office in December 2018, acknowledged on Friday that violence driven by organized crime had persisted in March, despite the government’s introduction of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, such as suspending classes and urging residents of the capital to stay home. 

“It seemed in late March, when the coronavirus had become more widespread, that we would have a considerable reduction (in violence),” he said during his regular morning news conference.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way.”

Violence has flared throughout the country, but it has been especially intense in the central state of Guanajuato.

In this central state, home to two major tourist attractions (the pueblos of Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende), criminal groups have battled over lucrative territories rife with theft from oil and natural gas pipelines.

The bloodshed has hit shocking levels in the city of Ceyala – home to a major automotive manufacturing plant – with gunmen engaging security forces in shootouts, blockading streets and torching businesses.

Experts blame the growing violence on the recent crackdown by government forces against fuel theft. The crackdown has weakened local cartels and caused the powerful Jalisco New Generation cartel (CJNG) to move in and attempt to take its territory.

AMLO came into power on a platform of “Abrazos No Balazos” but many are doubting that as an effective strategy against the violence.

The president promised to solve Mexico’s security woes by tacking what he considered the root causes of crime: poverty and corruption. But the strategy has so far failed to rein in the violence.

In a statement to The Guardian, Francisco Rivas, director of the National Citizen Observatory, said “The [anti-crime] strategy isn’t a strategy. The national guard isn’t pulling its weight because building an institution is difficult and expensive. Budget cuts to public security have been brutal. These all have serious effects.”

Then AMLO stirred up even more controversy when he decided to visit the mother of drug kingpin, Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán. He even broke social-distancing protocols by greeting her with a handshake. The president downplayed the meeting as little more than a courtesy to a mother who hasn’t seen her son in years.

Some Mexicans worry that coronavirus will only add to the likelihood that more and more of the nation will slip into lawlessness.

Billions of dollars are at stake as the economy winds down: Some tourist destinations, including Los Cabos, are closed temporarily because of coronavirus restrictions.

All-important remittances — money sent from migrants working in the U.S. back to their often-struggling families in Mexico — are being affected. Remittances reached an estimated $35 billion in 2019, or about 2.7% of total GDP, and they are expected to decline by at least 10 percent this year. Plummeting oil prices are a factor, too.

Meanwhile, crime rates rise.

“As millions of Mexicans lose their incomes, as kids potentially lose their parents, the social fabric will further fray,” said Shannon O’Neil, a senior fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan foreign-policy think tank and author of Two Nations Indivisible. “The same goes for police forces and the national guard, if members fall ill. The combination may increase lawlessness in a country already teetering.”

Someone Claims That They Discovered A Long-Lost Frida Kahlo Painting But Experts Don’t Agree

Things That Matter

Someone Claims That They Discovered A Long-Lost Frida Kahlo Painting But Experts Don’t Agree

Frida Kahlo - La Mesa Herida - The wounded Table - Der verwundete Tisch / YouTube

Frida Kahlo is one of the most iconic artists in global history. The Mexican artist was known for blazing her own path both in art and in society. One of her most famous paintings “The Wounded Table” has been missing for 65 years but one art dealer claims he found it.

A Spanish art dealer claims to have found a long-lost Frida Kahlo painting.

Kahlo painted “The Wounded Table” in 1940 and over the years it disappeared. It is unknown if it was returned to Moscow, was lost, or destroyed. All that is known is that Kahlo’s largest painting to that date is gone.

Cristian López Márquez, a little known art dealer in Spain, claims to have found the long-lost and highly sought after painting. According to La Voz de Galicia, the art dealers claims to have acquired the painting from some who settled in Spain from Mexico.

The painting is one of Kahlo’s most famous works of art.

The decades-long mystery about where the painting ended up does add to the allure of the claim. However, people are not convinced that the painting is a fake that is being peddled by someone who is after money by selling an inauthentic painting. To make matters more skeptical, the art dealer has very few details but is adamant about its authenticity.

“Time will give us the truth,” Márquez told AP. “Whoever proves genuine interest and the ability to pay the figure of 40 million euros, can spend as much time as wanted with their experts analyzing the work.”

Despite Márquez’s claims, art historians are very skeptical that the painting is true.

Márquez claims to have the painting safe in a warehouse in London. He has put the painting on sale asking for $45 million. No one seems to be biting but Márquez continues to say the painting is an original.

READ: Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul Is Celebrating Her 113th Birthday With A Week Full Of Digital Events

No Fireworks, No Character Greets: Walt Disney World Prepares For Weekend Reopening

Entertainment

No Fireworks, No Character Greets: Walt Disney World Prepares For Weekend Reopening

Todd Anderson / Disney Parks via Getty Images

Walt Disney World was one of the first major closures brought on by COVID-19. After months of being closed, Wat Disney World announced that they will be partially reopening this weekend. Some Floridians are begging for the company to reconsider.

Walt Disney World is planning to reopen Saturday, July 11.

For Central Florida, the reopening of Walt Disney World after Universal Studios and SeaWorld is a welcomed influx of money. However, the park’s reopening is concerning Floridians who say that the state is not ready for such a reopening because of the current spike of COVID-19 cases in the Sunshine State.

A petition is pleading with Governor Ron DeSantis to postpone Walt Disney World’s reopening.

Credit: MoveOn.Org

Florida is among the states experiencing major spikes in COVID-19 cases. Recently, Florida reported more than 11,000 cases in a single day. The MoveOn.Org petition is calling for Gov. DeSantis to prioritize the health of residents over the opening of Disney World.

“This virus is not gone, unfortunately it’s only become worse in this state. Having our theme parks remain closed until cases are steadily decreasing would keep our guests, our employees and their families safe,” reads the petition. “Re-opening the theme parks is only putting our guests, employees, and families at higher risk for contracting COVID-19. While theme parks are a great way to relax and enjoy free time, it is a non-essential business; it is not fair to the people who work there to risk their lives, especially if they are at risk or have family members who are at risk. People are more important than making a profit.”

The theme park had a reopening preview to show the new normal while at the park.

Disney cast members were given a chance to explore the park and the new safety regulations in place to protect guests from COVID-19. For two days, “guests” were able to enjoy the full park for the first time since March when the theme park had to close because of COVID-19.

One union has filed a grievance with Walt Disney World ahead of the reopening.

The Actors’ Equity Association, which represents 750 Walt Disney World performers filed a grievance of retaliation. The union claims that their members are being punished by Disney after demanding tests for performers because they are not able to social distance on June 25. On June 26, Disney rescinded notice recalling the performers for work.

“Seven unions signed agreements to have their employees return to work, the Actors’ Equity rejected our safety protocols and have not made themselves available to continue negotiations, which is unfortunate,” a Disney spokeswoman said in a statement, according to WTVBAM. “We are exercising our right to open without Equity performers.”

Some people were quick to use Disney’s own creations to highlight the kind of reopening they expect.

Oof. So far, there has been no mention so signaling from Walt Disney World that the reopening will be postponed. Twitter is filled with people both excited and appalled that the happiest place on earth is reopening. Some people hope that Disney magic will be worth the risk.

READ: Demi Lovato Says She Left Disney Channel Because Of Her Eating Disorder