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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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Things That Matter

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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Met Gala 2021 Is Happening And Amanda Gorman Is Set To Host The America-Themed Fashion Event

Entertainment

Met Gala 2021 Is Happening And Amanda Gorman Is Set To Host The America-Themed Fashion Event

Alex Wong/Getty Images

It’s 2021 and the Met Gala is back this year – after being canceled in 2020 thanks to a pandemic – with superstar poet Amanda Gorman being eyed to host the fashion event of the year. Given the 23-year-old’s show-stopping performance at the inauguration, the theme fittingly will be a celebration of America and American designers.

The Met Gala will return in 2021 with a very special guest as host.

Vogue’s “Oscars of Fashion” famously takes place on the first Monday of May. However, this year it’s been pushed back to September 13, in hopes that life will have returned to something closer to normal by then.

Epic poet Amanda Gorman is reportedly in talks to co-host the event alongside Tom Ford, who is the academy’s president. The breakout star of President Biden’s inauguration, Gorman is on the cover of the magazine’s May issue and the subject of a relentlessly glowing profile inside.

The black-tie gala, which raises funds for Met’s Costume Institute, is normally fashion’s biggest night and sees guests from Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B to Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and even Maluma.

The event was canceled in 2020 thanks to a global pandemic.

The world’s most glamorous party was canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19, which was (and still is) raging the planet at the time. There was a virtual event in place of the 2020 event, with celebs like Julia Roberts, Priyanka Chopra and Amanda Seyfried showing off their looks from home and stars like Mindy Kaling and Adam Rippon taking part in the #MetGalaChallenge, recreating looks from past years.

This year’s event will draw inspiration from all things USA.

The theme of this year’s Met Gala has not been announced, but Page Six says the night will be devoted to honoring America and American designers, following the 18-month-long COVID crisis in this country.

Recent past themes for the event have included “Camp: Notes on Fashion” (2019), “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” (2018), and “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between (2017). And don’t forget 2016, when Zayn Malik wore robot-arms to Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.

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