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.”

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Peru’s Indigenous Are Turning To Ancestral Medicines To Fight The Coronavirus

Culture

Peru’s Indigenous Are Turning To Ancestral Medicines To Fight The Coronavirus

Joao Laet / Getty Images

With news headlines like “How Covid-19 could destroy indigenous communities”, it’s hard to understate the affect that the Coronavirus has had on Indigenous communities across the world.

Even before the pandemic hit, native populations were already at increased risk of health complications, poor access to medical care, lack of proper education, and even premature death. The pandemic has only exacerbated these issues as government programs and NGOs who delivered aid to far flung communities have grind to a halt.

However, many communities have started taking the matter into their own hands by creating their own impromptu healthcare systems based on ancestral techniques and others have barricaded off their villages from the outside world in an effort to stem the flow of the virus.

In Peru, many Indigenous communities are turning to centuries-old medicines to fight back against the Coronavirus.

The Coronavirus has had a devastating impact on Peru – the country with the world’s highest per capita Covid-19 mortality rate. At particular risk is the nation’s large Indigenous community, who often lack proper access to education efforts and medical care. This has forced many Indigenous groups to find their own remedies.

In the Ucayali region, government rapid response teams deployed to a handful of Indigenous communities have found infection rates as high as 80% through antibody testing. Food and medicine donations have reached only a fraction of the population. Many say the only state presence they have seen is from a group responsible for collecting bodies of the dead.

At least one community, the Indigenous Shipibo from Peru’s Amazon region, have decided to rely on the wisdom of their ancestors. With hospitals far away, doctors stretch too thin and a lack of beds, many have accepted the alternative medicine.

In a report by the Associated Press, one villager, Mery Fasabi, speaks about gathering herbs, steeping them in boiling water and instructing her loved ones to breathe in the vapors. She also makes syrups of onion and ginger to help clear congested airways.

“We had knowledge about these plants, but we didn’t know if they’d really help treat COVID,” the teacher told the AP. “With the pandemic we are discovering new things.”

One of the plants the Shipibo are using is known locally as ‘matico.’ The plant has green leaves and brightly colored flowers. And although Fasabi admits that these ancestral remedies are by no means a cure, the holistic approach is proving successful. She says that “We are giving tranquility to our patients,” through words of encouragement and physical touch.

Even before the Coronavirus, Indigenous communities were at a greater risk for infectious diseases.

Indigenous peoples around the globe tend to be at higher risk from emerging infectious diseases compared to other populations. During the H1N1 pandemic in Canada in 2009, for example, aboriginal Canadians made up 16% of admissions to hospital, despite making up 3.4% of the population.

Covid-19 is no exception. In the US, one in every 2,300 indigenous Americans has died, compared to one in 3,600 white Americans.

Indigenous groups are particularly vulnerable to dying from Covid-19 because they often live days away from professional medical help. As of July 28, the disease had killed 1,108 indigenous people and there had been 27,517 recorded cases, with the majority in Brazil, according to data published by Red Eclesial Panamazonia (Repam).

Some communities are turning inward to survive COVID-19, barricading villages and growing their own food.

Despite the immense threat they face, Indigenous communities are fighting back.

“I am amazed to see the ways that indigenous peoples are stepping up to provide support where governments have not,” Tauli-Corpuz, a teacher at Mexico’s UNAM, told The Conversation. “They are providing PPE and sanitation, making their own masks, and ensuring that information on Covid-19 is available in local languages, and are distributing food and other necessities.”

They are also choosing to isolate. In Ecuador’s Siekopai nation, about 45 Indigenous elders, adults and children traveled deep into the forest to their ancestral heartland of Lagartococha to escape exposure to the Coronavirus, says the nation’s president Justino Piaguaje.

Despite their best efforts, many experts are extremely concerned for the survival of many Indigenous communities.

Credit: Ginebra Peña / Amazonian Alliance

They are already facing the ‘tipping point’ of ecological collapse due to increased threats of deforestation, fires, industrial extraction, agribusiness expansion and climate change,” Amazon Watch executive director Leila Salazar-Lopez told UNESCO of Amazonian Indigenous groups.

“Now, the pandemic has created one more crisis, and as each day passes, the risk of ethnocide becomes more real.”

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Viva Mexico Is Trending On Twitter Proving That Mexico Is More Than Just A Country

Culture

Viva Mexico Is Trending On Twitter Proving That Mexico Is More Than Just A Country

Carlos Vivas / Getty Images

It is Mexico’s Independence Day and that means that Mexicans around the world are honoring their roots. Twitter is buzzing with people who might not be in Mexico but they will forever have Mexico in their hearts. Here are just a few of the loving messages from people who are Mexican through and through.

Viva Mexico is trending on social media and the tweets are filled with love and passion for the country.

Mexico received its independence from Spain on September 16, 1810 and since then the day has been marked with celebration. The day is marked with parties of pride and culture no matter where you are in the world.

Mexicans everywhere are letting their Mexican flag fly.

Tbh, who doesn’t want to be Mexican to enjoy the day of puro pinche pride? The celebration for Mexican Independence Day starts on Sept. 15 with El Grito. The tradition is that the president of Mexico stands on the balcony on Sept. 15 at 11 p.m. and rings the same church bell that Roman Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang in 1810 to trigger the Mexican Revolution.

People are loving all of the celebrations for their homeland.

The original El Grito took place in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato in 1810. While most El Grito celebrations take place at the National Palace, some presidents, especially on their last year, celebrate El Grito in the town where it originated.

Honestly, no one celebrates their independence day like Mexico and we love them for it.

¡Viva Mexico! Mexico lindo y querido. How are you celebrating the Mexican Independence Day this year? Show us what you have planned.

READ: Many Mexicans Are Calling Out Fragile Masculinity As Some Continue To Protest A Controversial Zapata Painting

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