Things That Matter

Mexican Border Officials Arrested A Texas Woman Trying To Bring Gifts To Children Stuck In Border Camps

While millions of people were celebrating Noche Buena, Christmas, Chanukah and the other winter holidays this season brings, thousands remained in limbo because of the harmful immigration and amnesty laws that the United States has enacted under the Trump administration. Families separated from each other for months with no word on when they might reunite with their loved ones had no reason to celebrate. Older children caring for the babies and smaller children imprisoned alongside them tried to make the week slightly more festive — a difficult task for kids who should be enjoying the holidays themselves. 

Although there was no shortage of donation offerings throughout the year, the US government has turned away gifts of money and item donations to benefit detained migrants. While the winter holidays seem like an ideal time to revoke this policy, it was only redoubled — at least for the United States. Migrants stuck in south of the border because of the “Remain in Mexico” plan would hypothetically be able to get these much needed donations. 

Keeping this in mind, one Texas mom headed south with a car full of gifts and items for those in need but what she got in return was much less than holiday cheer.   

The Monday before Christmas, Anamichelle Castellano headed out of Brownsville with her car loaded with 300 individually-wrapped presents. The gifts were intended to be passed out to children at the make-shift migrant camps in Matamoros, Mexico. Castellano was travelling with an unnamed woman in her car and her husband and young daughter following in a second vehicle — also coming to help pass out gifts. 

However, instead of being able to drive through, her car was required to undergo a total x-ray scan because of the wrapped boxes and it picked up something that alerted border police. Apparently, Castellano’s husband had gone hunting sometime before and had left a lone carton of bullets in the car’s glove box. 

“Her husband had put them in there a long time ago and forgotten all about them,” Castellano’s mother, Mary Lopez, told local Houston, Texas news station KTRK.

Due to this small amount of ammunition, both women were arrested by Mexican police on the Gateway Bridge crossing from Brownsville into Matamoros. 

Castellano was charged with possession of ammunition and both women were held until late Monday night. Though they were released after only one day, the pair faced serious scrutiny while in custody. According to Castellano’s dad, who talked with local KTRK, jailers and prosecutors were threatening in nature when they addressed his daughter and the other volunteer. 

“[They were] kind of threatening her with federal prison, federal this and federal charges and we believe this is all a big set up where they’re trying to see what they can get out of it,” her father, Genaro Lopez, explained.

Castellano’s husband, Jehu, also experienced this severity. Mr. Castellano described to local KTRK that he had contacted a prosecutor in Matamoros while is wife was still in jail but the attorney “refuse[d] to compromise to anything even though it’s something so minor…he [was] not bending.” Mr. Castellano also explained that defense attorneys he contacted also wanted “ridiculous amounts of money, in the thousands” in order to help his wife. 

Though she has been released, Castellano will have to return to Mexico to face the courts about her ammunition charge.  

Castellano herself was a bit baffled over the entire run in with the law. 

In an interview she gave to KTRK once she was freshly released, the attempted gift-giver was genuinely surprised that what she saw to be a simple mistake escalated into an arrest by Mexican police. 

“I mean, I’m dressed as Mrs. Claus. I’m here bringing gifts to children. Certainly they could see that this was not a criminal smuggling attempt but, unfortunately, they didn’t see it like that.” 

Another thing the Texas mom wanted to focus on in her brief interview is the danger of the migrant camps. As Castellano explained to KTRK, the International Bridge where the migrant camps are set up is a dangerous area where girls and woman have gone missing. She attributed the peril that these migrants face to the new “Remain in Mexico” plan that the Trump Administration has forced onto the Mexican government. 

“As an America, as a human, I just can’t see that this is the right way to treat refugees. This is not how I would want to be treated.”

Her time being detained unfortunately delayed her ability to spread gifts to the migrant children of Matamoros but Castellano and her family were able to pass out needed products like diapers, soap, and other important goods.

This wasn’t the first car-full of toys Castellano has driven down for the detained children of these camps. The deliveries are part of her non-profit the Socorro Foundation. The South Texas organization helps migrant families get supplies, shelter, food, education and connects them with those who can help them through the migration process. The organization aims to remember immigrants all year, not just during this most festive time. We encourage you to do the same.

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

Things That Matter

Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

When it comes to international happiness rankings, Mexico has long done well in many measurements. In fact, in 2019, Mexico placed number 23 beating out every other Latin American country except for Costa Rica. But in 2020, things looks a lot different as the country slipped 23 spots on the list. What does this mean for Mexico and its residents? 

Mexico slips 23 spots on the World Happiness Report thanks to a variety of compelling factors.

Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, the new report indicates.

“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.

The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.

Mexico has struggled especially hard against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started, Mexico has fared far worse than many other countries across Latin America. Today, there are reports that Mexico has been undercounting and underreporting both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths. Given this reality, the country is 2nd worst in the world when it comes to number of suspected deaths, with more than 200,000 people dead. 

Could the happiness level have an impact on this year’s elections?

Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.

But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.

Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.

Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.

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Mexico Is Owning The Instagram-Worthy World Of Glamping With These Bubble Hotels

Culture

Mexico Is Owning The Instagram-Worthy World Of Glamping With These Bubble Hotels

Right now just about everyone is itching to go on vacation. But considering that we’re still mid-pandemic and the call remains to socially distance, what can one do?

Sure, glamping is nothing new – it’s filled our Instagram feeds for years and was around long before that – but it may just provide travelers with that socially-distanced staycation that so many of us need right about now. Or, better yet, wait a little while longer and get yourself to Mexico where several new glamping bubble hotels are popping up.

Mexico will soon have three “bubble hotel” options for tourists looking for the next level of “glamping.”

When you think of camping, many of us think of bugs, not showering, and doing our private business behind a bush somewhere. While that’s still definitely an option for those of us that are into it, glamping has been a trend towards making the camping experience a more comfortable one.

Glamping has been gaining popularity among nature lovers, who also want to enjoy those everyday creature comforts, but in the midst of beautiful landscapes. That’s why bubble hotels have been popping up across Mexico, to offer clients a unique stay, close to nature they’re the perfect ‘getaway’ to get out of your daily routine.

From the bosque outside Mexico City to the deserts of Baja, Mexico is a glamping paradise. 

These bubble hotels have rooms described by travel guidebook publisher Lonely Planet as essentially inflatable, transparent domes designed to allow guests to cocoon themselves in nature without quite leaving their material comforts behind. 

There are already two such properties across Mexico with a third which will begin welcoming guests sometime toward the end of this year.

One of those that is already operational is Alpino Bubble Glamping in Mexico City while the other is the Campera Bubble Hotel in the Valle de Guadalupe wine region of Baja California.

Located in the Cumbres de Ajusco National Park in the south of the capital, the former has just two “bubbles,” a 40-square-meter deluxe one that goes for 4,500 pesos (about US $220) a night and a 25-square-meter standard where a stay costs a slightly more affordable 4,000 pesos.

Both have views of the Pico del Águila, the highest point of the Ajusco, or Xitle, volcano, and come equipped with telescopes that guests can use to get a better view of the surrounding scenery and night sky.

Bubble glamping isn’t the camping our parents dragged us out to do in the woods as kids.

Credit: Alpino Bubble Hotel

Sure you may be connecting with nature and enjoying awesome activities like horseback riding, stargazing, hiking or rafting, but these properties come with all the creature comforts we’re used to. 

Move nights, wifi, breakfast in bed, warm showers, luxurious bedding, and even a full bar are all standard amenities at many of these properties.

What do you think? Would you be up to stay the night at one of these bubble hotels?

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