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.”

El Chapo’s Daughter Is Using His Name And Face to Launch A Beer Brand After She Launched A Fashion Line

Culture

El Chapo’s Daughter Is Using His Name And Face to Launch A Beer Brand After She Launched A Fashion Line

elchapo701 / Instagram

It seems like everybody today is trying to get in on the alcohol business. Whether it’s The Rock with a new tequila brand or Ryan Reynolds buying a gin company, it seems to be all the rage right now that even “El Chapo” is getting his own line of beers. 

Say hello to the “El Chapo 701” brand run by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s daughter Alejandrina Guzman Salazar, who also is behind a fashion and lifestyle company built around her jailed father’s brand. The new line of beer, called El Chapo Mexican Lager, was unveiled for the first time to the public on Jan. 14 at a fashion trade show in Guadalajara, Mexico. 

“It hasn’t been released for sale to the public yet. I just brought some to display,” spokeswoman Adriana Ituarte told AFP, as the beer line is currently still waiting on government approval to sell beer in Mexico. The alcohol displayed at the trade showed brown, black and white labeled craft beer bottles with the Sinaloa cartel leader’s infamous mustache face adorned on them. 

Alejandrina Guzman Salazar’s company is banking on the idea that people will want to buy craft beer, labeled and named after her infamous father, at bars and markets in Mexico. 

Beer lovers won’t have to break the bank either when it comes to purchasing the new line of beer which comes in at 70.10 pesos, or about $3.73, for a 355 ml bottle. There is also the name of the brand, “El Chapo 701” which has an interesting meaning behind it. The “701” is a reference to El Chapo’s place on the 2009 list of the world’s richest persons from Forbes magazine (estimated at $1 billion). 

The “El Chapo” beer is expected to have a large fan base due to the notoriety of the imprisoned drug cartel leader and a growing market for collectible celebrity alcoholic beverages like these. The company is hoping that, besides just the name and branding of the beer, fans will actually enjoy the drink and keep coming back to it.

“I don’t know if we take the label off and the beer is good if it’s going to sell,’  Ituarte told the Daily Mail. “But obviously the brand gives the plus of sale, we continue with the idea that we are selling and as long as the product is good, people buy it and like it.”

Ituarte said at the trade show that the product will be sold at bars throughout Mexico that also sell stock craft beer, a market that has flourished in Mexico City in recent years due to the growth of microbreweries. The lager was produced by La Chingonería, a Mexico City-based brewery company. 

“This is an artisanal beer, with 4 percent alcohol. This prototype is a lager, and it’s made up of malt, rice, and honey so it’s good,” Ituarte told Daily Mail. “And the idea is for it to be sold at bars that stock craft beer.”

This is not the first time that “El Chapo” has seen his name being cashed in on by his family. There has been a clothing and accessories line made in tribute of Guzman.

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Salazar’s company has already cashed in on her father’s name with a line of T items such as t-shirts, belts, purses, and jackets all adorned with imagery of Guzman and the 701 logo. The brand has been quite successful in under a year of going public which shows the power of “El Chapo’s” name. 

Salazar isn’t the only one getting in on the drug lord’s name. Last March Guzmán’s wife, Emma Coronel, launched a fashion and leisurewear line, licensed by her husband. “I’m very excited to start this project, which was based on ideas and concepts that my husband and I had years ago,” Coronel told CNN in a statement at the time of the launch. “It is a project dedicated to our daughters.”

These dedicated “El Chapo” brands show the notoriety and the power of his name when it comes to marketing. If this new beer line is anything like the clothing and accessories already released under his name, there is sure to be a market for this too. 

Guzman is currently serving a life sentence at a supermax prison in Colorado after being convicted on drug trafficking and weapons charges in 2019. El Chapo was forced to forfeit $12.6 billion as part of his punishment.

READ: California Man Is Using His Culture To Create Hilarious And Super Relevant Mexican Greet Cards

Mexico Admits That Hundreds Of HIV-Positive Mexicans Were Being Treated With Obsolete And Ineffective Medications

Things That Matter

Mexico Admits That Hundreds Of HIV-Positive Mexicans Were Being Treated With Obsolete And Ineffective Medications

Gobierno de Mexico

For a long time, it was considered that Mexico had averted the worst of the HIV/AIDS crisis that has plagued much of the Americas. For a country of its size and population, Mexico historically has had a very low incidence rate of HIV infection – even among populations considered at a high-risk.

Mexico is also a nation that has a robust public healthcare system that provides medical care to its citizens free-of-charge or at very low prices, including HIV medications.

Many looked to Mexico as a role model for developing countries confronting the worldwide HIV epidemic. However, after recent reports about obsolete medications being given to HIV and AIDS patients many are beginning to question that way of thinking.

Mexico’s Health ministry revealed that Mexico had been buying outdated medications from suppliers that no longer worked.

Credit: Gobierno de Mexico

Hugo López-Gatell, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, revealed this morning that some drug providers were selling outdated and obsolete HIV drugs to the federal government. Many of the drug being used by the government to treat HIV-positive patients were from the 1980s and have been proven ineffective around the world.

At a press conference, he explained that in late 2019, authorities realized that drug companies were intentionally manipulating the public bidding process in a scheme to sell outdated drugs to the public health ministry.

“The combination of medicines tells us about the enormous lack of proper HIV treatment because they [the HIV medications] are not adequate. In many cases we found the use of old medicines, we found the use of the first HIV drug that was invented or discovered at the beginning of the 80s. It is a drug that is already obsolete worldwide and in Mexico was still being used,” he said.

According to the government, however, it was the fault of the drug companies that were gaming a public health system.

Credit: Gobierno de Mexico

“What did we find?” That here were pressures from representatives of the pharmaceutical industry. We discovered that it was one group who made the medicines and that there were very few who distributed them. But they tie up the government with exclusive agreements to the different companies that manufacture the medicines,” he explained.

So basically, the distributors put pressure on doctors who specifically prescribed retroviral medications. He also clarified that purchases have always been made at the national level, however, they made no sense with the amounts of what they asked for in each state.

Despite this troubling revelation, the Ministry of Health has restated its commitment to securing the best care for those in need of HIV treatment.

Credit: Gilead Sciences

The undersecretary added: “In May, we completely modified the HIV treatment scheme. First, we made it clear that we wanted the best medications, the most effective, the safest; second, we identified how many people could have this ideal medication scheme and it turns out that there were many more than those who were taking advantage of it.”

This latest news comes just months after the country reformed its HIV treatment regime, leaving many fearful of shortages.

Public health officials warned of the possibility that thousands of Mexicans who rely on HIV treatment could be left without life-saving services after the government changed the way it funds treatment.

Reforms announced last month to centralize drug procurement risk sparking shortages, they say, while the government counters that it has ample supplies and hopes its changes will save money and cut corruption in the drug buying process. It’s these reforms they say that will help combat problems such as being sold outdated and obsolete drugs.

However, many HIV activists warn of a public health crisis.

In February, the government also said that it would no longer fund civil society organizations, leaving more than 200 groups fighting the disease without resources for core activities, such as HIV testing.