Things That Matter

Mexican Children As Young At 6 Are Training To Be Child Soldiers Against The Growing Violence At The Hands Of Cartels

Mexico has long been battling a drug war against a sprawling network of powerful cartels. However, in many parts of the country, the government isn’t focused on helping end the violence.

Most federal forces and national guard troops are sent to protect major cities or tourist destinations – think Acapulco, Cancun, or Mexico City.

This lack of protection is leading many across the country to come up with their own ways to defend themselves.

In the midst of a cartel war zone, children as young as six are taking up arms to fight back against growing cartels.

Credit: @nela_minded / Twitter

The Mexican Drug War started over a decade ago but with each passing year, it becomes more violent, despite promises from the new president to begin winding it down. The first three months of 2019 were the deadliest yet – with nearly 9,000 murders across the country.

Guerrero, a state that is home to the tourist resort of Acapulco and just south of the capital of Mexico City, is particularly deadly. It often tops the list of most deadly states in the country and is actually designated a ‘no-go zone’ by the US State Department.

It’s here in the Nahua village of Rincòn de Chautla where children as young as six are being trained to fight back against the cartels.

They march, train, and carry fake rifles made of tree branches while their instructor is armed with a real gun.

Credit: @RolandHuschke / Twitter

In a recent report, The Daily Beast spoke to several of these child soldiers. One six-year-old, Jeremías Ramìrez, said: “We’re practicing to defend our town, so los sicarios won’t be able to kill us.”

Angélica Flores, 12, when said: “If they come, we’ll be ready for them.” She wants her village to have “peace, justice, and to keep out the criminals.”

Both children are members of the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities (CRAC). Under Mexican law, indigenous peoples have traditionally been allowed to form policías comunitarias (community police) groups like CRAC.

As cartel violence has surged in recent years, these comunitarios, as they’re commonly called, are often the only protection available against ruthless and predatory cartels. Rincón de Chautla and the surrounding pueblos – all of which sit on an important shipping corridor for drugs and other contraband – are no exception.

In just the past month, seven villagers have been murdered or abducted.

Credit: @rebeccaplevin / Twitter

There have been seven Nahua murdered or abducted in the last month alone, five of whom were high-ranking members of the CRAC.

Two of these were dismembered by the Ardillos Cartel and left in trash bags at the side of the road running into Chilapa city in late May. The most recent victim, a retired community policeman named Eugenio Máximo, was dumped just outside of Rincón de Chautla on June 2nd.

The Nahua people can’t trust anyone but themselves for defense.

The communities of these rugged mountains say they are powerless without their own forces. They can’t rely on the soldiers or the police as they know they’re working with Los Ardillos.

One villager told The Daily Beast, “Once we’re dead our children must know how to defend themselves. The government is never going to save them.”

Even human rights organizations see few other options for the people of Rincòn de Chautla. “These communities are desperate,” one organization leader told The Daily Beast, “and there’s no one to turn to for help.”

But all-female brigade commander Rodrìguez has an even simpler answer for CRAC’s critics.“If those in the government don’t like women and niños training,” she says, “then let them do their job and protect us.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

An Alleged Rapist Is Running For Governor In Mexico And Still Has The Support Of President AMLO

Things That Matter

An Alleged Rapist Is Running For Governor In Mexico And Still Has The Support Of President AMLO

For years, Mexicans have been taking to the streets to denounce violence against women and to demand accountability from their leaders. However, much of that messaging doesn’t seem to have reached the very top as President Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) continues to support a candidate for governor facing multiple allegations of sexual assault.

A candidate for governor faces multiple sexual assault allegations and still enjoys widespread support.

Félix Salgado Macedonio, a federal senator (currently on leave) is accused of sexually assaulting five women and yet is still in the running for governor of Guerrero.

Despite the accusations he faces, 64-year-old Salgado, has maintained the support of President AMLO, who has claimed that the allegations are politically motivated, and other high-ranking party officials including national party president Mario Delgado. He was considered the frontrunner in the election for governor.

AMLO came to the candidates defense, calling on people to stop politicking and avoid “media lynchings” and asserting that people should trust the party process that was used to select Salgado as candidate.

“We have to have confidence in the people, it’s the people who decide. If polls are taken and and the people say ‘I agree with this colleague [being candidate],’ I think that must be respected. Politics is a matter for everyone, not just the elites,” López Obrador said.

The MORENA party has committed to reselecting its candidate for governor but Salgado is still in the running.

Officials from the MORENA party announced that they would conduct a new selection process to find a contender for the June 6 election. The party’s honesty and justice commission said its members had voted unanimously to order a repeat of the selection process.

While the honesty and justice commission has ordered a new candidate selection process, Salgado was not precluded from participating in it. He indicated in a social media post on Friday night that he planned to seek the party’s backing for a second time.

“Cheer up colleagues! There is [still fight in the] bull,” Salgado wrote on Facebook.

Activists continue to fight back against his candidacy and the president’s support for an alleged rapist.

Women have protested in Mexico City and Guerrero state capital Chilpancingo and the hashtag #NingúnVioladorSeráGobernador (No Rapist Will be Governor) has been used countless times on Twitter.

Yolitzin Jaimes, a member of the feminist collective Las Revueltas, said the withdrawal of Salgado’s candidacy is a positive first step but urged the authorities to continue investigating the rape allegations.

“… He has to go to jail, … he mustn’t return to the Senate and he mustn’t be nominated [for governor] by any political party because … it’s very probable that he’s seeking to go to the Labor Party [a Morena ally],” she said.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Americans Are Flocking To Mexico Amid The Pandemic And Being Terrible Tourists In The Process

Things That Matter

Americans Are Flocking To Mexico Amid The Pandemic And Being Terrible Tourists In The Process

Despite being one of the world’s hardest hit countries by the Covid-19 pandemic, Mexico never once closed its doors to international tourism. In fact, the country has worked hard to lure travelers from the U.S. as Americans faced increasingly tough restrictions at home. This has had a profound impact on the country’s experience with Covid-19, with so many Mexicans either falling ill themselves or knowing someone who has.

With so many Mexicans having first hand experience with the virus, it makes sense why so many have strong opinions about tourist’s behaviors while visiting the country.

Tourists are still welcomed in Mexico but their bad behavior is not.

Most Mexicans agree with their government’s open borders approach during the pandemic, since the alternative would have meant even worse economic situation for a country already suffering record levels of poverty. But the influx of tourists to the country has brought with it a level of resentment at those who fail to follow local health guidelines while on vacation.

Mexico never closed its airports to tourists and one walk down a block in Mexico City’s popular Condesa or Roma neighborhoods and you’ll spot American tourists within minutes – many failing to wear a mask. The problem is even more severe in popular tourist destinations like Oaxaca.

There, tourists often travel from the bustling city of Oaxaca into remote villages where Indigenous residents have even less access to proper medical care.

Residents fear that tourists feel they are exempt from local Covid-19 guidelines.

Many residents who have had their own personal experience with the coronavirus has made them sensitive to the pandemic situation in their community. As case numbers continued to rise, many noticed more tourists defying widely practiced public-health protocols, like wearing face masks in public.

On Feb. 25, a popular photographer from Oaxaca, Frank Coronado, posted a plea to his 171,000 Instagram followers: “Dear travelers, you are welcome in Oaxaca, but you should ALWAYS wear a mask when you are in public places.”

He wanted to publicly address the issue and encourage visitors to do better — particularly foreigners who travel from Oaxaca City into smaller rural villages, where artisans are even more vulnerable. He told the Washington Post, “I get mad because I already went through [covid-19] and know how bad it feels. I don’t want my people, the people of Oaxaca, to get sick.”

With an economy based on services, many don’t have the freedom to work from home.

Many in Mexico don’t have the luxury of isolating from tourists — such as Aurora Tostado, who owns the downtown coffee shop Marito & Moglie with her husband.

“People in Mexico, we have to get out of our homes to work. It’s not like we can work remotely like most of the people in the U.S.,” Tostado told the Washington Post. Like others in hospitality, Tostado benefits financially from having tourists, and she is happy to welcome them back, she says. She just hopes they will consider the chain reaction of their behavior as they enjoy the culture that makes her city special

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com