Things That Matter

Two Migrants From Cameroon Drowned Off The Coast Of Chiapas As Mexico Continues To Crackdown On Caravans

Mexico and U.S. relations is a tricky and complicated mess — as history shows, it’s always been that way. These days, however, the concerns of these neighboring countries lie mainly on migration and border security. The surge of Central Americans migrants has put a strain on the U.S. and Mexico. And, it’s not just Central Americans that are making their way to the Mexican border with hope of reaching the U.S. There are also migrants coming from Cuba, Haiti, and Africa. So, what was once an issue between Mexico and the United States, is now concerning migrants from various parts of the world who are fleeing their native countries.

Last week as Mexico’s national guard continues to block migration into their country, at least two people from Cameroon drowned off the coast of Puerto Arista in Chiapas, Mexico. 

Credit: YouTube

The dead bodies washed up to shore after a small boat capsized on Oct. 11 that left two dead and two others missing. The rest of the migrants (six men and one woman) were rescued, AZcentral.com reports. All migrants were from “a country that has seen a growing exodus of refugees amid an increasingly violent conflict between its French- and English-speaking communities,” Voa News reports. 

Pueblo Sin Fronteras, a migrant advocacy organization, said that hostile Mexican forces broke up the caravan, but resulted in many fleeing toward the mountains. 

Credit: Pueblo Sin Fronteras / Facebook

“Yesterday morning, a caravan of migrants of many different nationalities left from Tapachula on foot, Pueblo Sin Fronteras stated on Facebook. “In the afternoon, the Mexican government, with a very large number of the national guard and the national institute of migration, blocked their passage, arrested many of its members, and dismantled it, sending many migrant families to hide in the mountain. The deployment of the military was like a full-fledged operation, but in reality it was to hunt migrants, women, girls, boys and men migrants, migrants who do not want to stay in Mexico, who do not take anything away from Mexico, who only want to pass, and flee violence and hunger in their places of origin.”

The crackdown of migrant caravans comes after President Donald Trump urged President Andres Manuel López Obrador to curb migration into Mexico. 

Credit: @mamendoza480 / Twitter

As a result, President López Obrador sent thousands of National Guard troops to defend Mexico’s southern border that neighbors GuatemalaLast month, President Trump publicly thanked President López Obrador for securing Mexico’s border during the United Nations General Assembly.

“I would like to thank President López Obrador of Mexico for the great cooperation we are receiving, and for right now putting 27,000 troops on our southern border,” President Trump said. “Mexico is showing us great respect, and I respect them in return.”

While that appreciation may have seemed sincere, a few days later, Trump said that he was “using Mexico to protect our border.” President López Obrador didn’t think President Trump’s words disrespectful because he said, according to the New York Times, “There’s nothing we should be ashamed of. We protect Mexico’s sovereignty. At the same time, we try to avoid confrontation.”

Now, critics of President Trump are saying that Mexico is actually paying for Trump’s border wall by creating a human fence with the Mexican national guard.

Credit: Pueblo Sin Fronteras / Facebook

Mexico foreign ministry spokesman Roberto Velasco told CNN that since the deployment of the Mexican national guard, migrant caravans had decreased significantly. “The number of migrants presented before Mexican authorities has decreased by 70 percent from June to September,” Velasco said to CNN. 

In an op-ed in the New York Times, Jorge Ramos wrote that at least one Mexican official went on the record to state that Mexico is basically the wall that President Trump wants. “Armando Santacruz, president of Mexico United Against Crime, told me in an interview. ‘Yes, we are the wall. And [Mexico’s] National Guard is now spending a lot of its resources keeping immigrants away,” Ramos wrote. 

Pueblo Sin Fronteras stated that the Mexican government is doing the “dirty work of the United States.” They also said that President López Obrador is wrong when with his claims that migrants are criminals. Pueblo Sin Fronteras say these are displaced people who fled their home due to violence, discrimination, and bureaucracy. 

READ: Under Pressure From Trump, Mexican Soldiers Are Making Life For Migrants Passing Through Mexico A Living Hell

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Mexico Wants To Be The Hub Of Latin America’s Space Industry And This Is Their Incredible Plan

Things That Matter

Mexico Wants To Be The Hub Of Latin America’s Space Industry And This Is Their Incredible Plan

Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/Getty

Although the world is still struggling with how best to contain the Coronavirus pandemic, many governments are forging ahead with long term goals and development programs.

One of the most important to new programs to launch in Mexico is central to its economic and scientific future – its future in space. Together with other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (some of which already have their own independent agencies), Mexico is looking to become the leader in the region when it comes to space research and exploration.

The country recently announced its intentions for just such an agency, that they hope would be based in Mexico with foreign capital providing the seed money to get the project off the ground.

Mexico announced its intention to head up a Latin American and Caribbean space agency.

Mexico has launched an ambitious new project – creating a Latin American Space and Caribbean Space Agency that would facilitate the sharing of satellite images and aims to observe the planet. The agency would be dedicated to earth observation, satellite image sharing and multi-sector dialogue.

The project was presented by Javier López Casarín, Honorary President of the Technical Council of Knowledge and Innovation of the Mexican Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AMEXCID). López Casarín attended the meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), where he presented the project for the creation of the Latin American and Caribbean Space Agency, an entity that will be at the same level as other agencies (think NASA and the European Space Agency) of world space research with which it hopes to exchange information.

As part of the same meeting, the Latin American coordinators highlighted the role of Mexico in charge of the presidency of the community of Latin American states and appreciated the proposal to create a joint space agency.

Mexico has had a space agency of its own since 2010 but they’re looking to expand the operations.

Mexico has had its own space agency, the Agencia Espacial Mexicana, since 2010. Plus, several other countries across Latin America and the Caribbean have their own similar departments that over see satellites, information gathering, meteorological date, etc.

Mexico’s space agency has been tasked with carrying out study programs, research, and academic support, however, its duties have never included the aim of space exploration with its own infrastructure.

One of the agency’s key objectives is to help increase internet connectivity across the region.

In 2019, the Agencia Espacial Mexicana announced it was developing its space program around the needs of Mexican society – that it would be for the social benefit.

Among other techonoligcal solutions, the government has made it a core principle to help expand access to Internet across the country. By merging various space agencies into one, this increased Internet connectivity will likely spread to other countries in Latin America.

Internet connectivity rates vary from around 27% in El Salvador to close to 80% in Brazil – so bringing that wide gap is seen as critical for sustained development in the region.

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The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico

Culture

The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico

Tyrone Turner / Getty Images

Latinos make up the largest minority group in the country, yet our history is so frequently left out of classrooms. From Chicano communities in Texas and California to Latinos in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and the Underground Railroad – which also had a route into Mexico – Latinos have helped shape and advance this country.

And as the U.S. is undergoing a racial reckoning around policing and systemic racism, Mexico’s route of the Underground Railroad is getting renewed attention – particularly because Mexico (for the very first time in history) has counted its Afro-Mexican population as its own category in this year’s census.

The Underground Railroad also ran south into Mexico and it’s getting renewed attention.

Most of us are familiar with stories of the Underground Railroad. It was a network of clandestine routes and safe houses established in the U.S. during the early to mid-19th century. It was used by enslaved African Americans to escape into free states and Canada. It grew steadily until the Civil War began, and by one estimate it was used by more than 100,000 enslaved people to escape bondage.

In a story reported on by the Associated Press, there is renewed interest in another route on the Underground Railroad, one that went south into Mexico. Bacha-Garza, a historian, dug into oral family histories and heard an unexpected story: ranches served as a stop on the Underground Railroad to Mexico. Across Texas and parts of Louisiana, Alabama, and Arkansas, scholars and preservation advocates are working to piece together the story of a largely forgotten part of American history: a network that helped thousands of Black slaves escape to Mexico.

According to Maria Hammack, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin studying the passage of escapees who crossed the borderlands for sanctuary in Mexico, about 5,000 to 10,000 people broke free from bondage into the southern country. Currently, no reliable figures currently exist detailing how many left to Mexico, unlike the more prominent transit into Canada’s safe haven.

Mexico abolished slavery a generation before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Thirty-four years before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, in 1829, Mexican President Vicente Guerrero, who was of mixed background, including African heritage, abolished slavery in the country. The measure freed an estimated 200,000 enslaved Africans Spain forcefully brought over into what was then called New Spain and would later open a pathway for Blacks seeking freedom in the Southern U.S.

And he did so while Texas was still part of the country, in part prompting white, slave-holding immigrants to fight for independence in the Texas Revolution. Once they formed the Republic of Texas in 1836, they made slavery legal again, and it continued to be legal when Texas joined the U.S. as a state in 1845.

With the north’s popular underground railroad out of reach for many on the southern margins, Mexico was a more plausible route to freedom for these men and women.

Just like with the northern route, helping people along the route was dangerous and could land you in serious trouble.

Credit: Library of Congress / Public Domain

Much like on the railway’s northern route into Canada, anyone caught helping African-Americans fleeing slavery faced serious and severe consequences.

Slaveholders were aware that people were escaping south, and attempted to get Mexico to sign a fugitive slave treaty that would, like the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that demanded free states to return escapees, require Mexico to deliver those who had left. Mexico, however, refused to sign, contending that all enslaved people were free once they reached Mexican soil. Despite this, Hammock said that some Texans hired what was called “slave catchers” or “slave hunters” to illegally cross into the country, where they had no jurisdiction, to kidnap escapees.

“The organization that we know today as the Texas Rangers was born out of an organization of men that were slave hunters,” Hammack, who is currently researching how often these actions took place, told the AP. “They were bounty hunters trying to retrieve enslaved property that crossed the Rio Grande for slave owners and would get paid according to how far into Mexico the slaves were found.”

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