Things That Matter

Twenty-Nine Victims Were Found Buried In Mass Grave But Many Wonder If The Government Will Even Attempt To Identify Them

Ever since then president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa decided to wage a frontal war against the Mexican drug cartels in 2006, gruesome scenes have been found throughout Mexico. Other events such as the capture of El Chapo Guzman and the formation of the Los Zetas cartel has also led to the fragmentation of the cartels. 

Whereas in the 1990s and early 2000s the Sinaloa Cartel and the Gulf Cartel has a strict demarcation of their territories, today there are about a dozen cartels that are fighting for control of the main passageway for drugs into the United States, which is by far the largest and most profitable market in the world. This turf war has led to Dantesque violence and suffering. One of the most heartbreaking legacies of the Cartel Wars is the discovery of dozens of clandestine mass graves sprinkled all throughout Mexico. These deaths are the product of multiple local and geopolitical factors, such as the demand for drugs in the United States, the availability of guns North of the Border and corruption in Mexico. 

A new clandestine mass grave has been found in Jalisco, Mexico: 29 bodies were left in plastic bags.

Credit: Vice en Español / YouTube

Gerardo Solis, Attorney General in Jalisco, said that the discovery is located in the affluent municipality of Zapopan. 13 complete and 16 incomplete bodies were found. At least two of the victims are women and as the site is scrapped more bodies could be found. The bodies were dismembered and dumped inside a total of 119 bags. As reported by Vanguard,  the state’s special prosecutor for missing persons cases, Blanca Trujillo, said: “Different body parts are being examined by forensic anthropologists and analysts to determine to what extent the number is going to increase”. 

The gruesome discovery was made in the state of Jalisco, home of the increasingly powerful Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion or CJNG.

Credit: Mazatlán Post / Screenshot

This cartel is famous for its brutal methods and for the total control they hold over their territory. They are so oblivious to the authorities that they parade through rural roads and highways on trucks marked with their logo. This cartel has been ranked by United States Authorities as one of the five most dangerous criminal organizations in the world. 

This is not the first of such gruesome discoveries: on the contrary, mass graves are a constant in contemporary Mexico.

Credit: fosas-clandestinas-mexico-1110×580. Digital image. Sopitas. 

In Jalisco alone, multiple burial sites have been found in recent months. As reported by Mail Online: “In July, prosecutors found 21 bodies in the yard of a house near Guadalajara. In May, the remains of at least 34 people were found at two separate properties in Jalisco. In March, workers were removing mud and debris to clear a storm drain at another spot on the outskirts of Guadalajara, when they began finding plastic bags with the odor of dead bodies. In the end, they pulled a total of 20 bodies out of the storm drain”. Almost 2,000 clandestine mass graves have been found in Mexico over the past eleven years. Some of the bodies belong to Central American migrants who are trying to reach the United States in hope for better life. 

Some people just disappear and families are left to their own devices when it comes to finding their loved one’s remains.

Credit: Screen capture. El Dia Despues. YouTube 

There are over 40,000 people reported missing in Mexico. Authorities are often negligent and missing persons are never found. After families have given up hope of seeing their loved ones alive, they start looking for remains. It takes years to gather clues. Many mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters take matters into their own hands and look for bones, clothes or any sort of evidence in mountains, forests and deserts. This documentary explores the issue. 

The state of Coahuila has been the site of unspeakable atrocities 

Clandestine mass graves have been found in other states, but Coahuila is infamous for sites, such as the municipality of Patrocinio, that have been described as extermination camps. Families have found multiple remains and clothes that indicate that bodies have been burnt to erase traces. The remains of women and children have also been found.

In 2017, Mail Online reported on the discovery of a site that housed the remains of 3,000 victims: “Activists found the skeletal remains on Saturday after an anonymous tip-off that the area was being used as an ‘extermination center’ by gangsters. They say the bodies were likely dissolved in acid, burned, then broken up with shovels in an attempt to dispose of them. The bodies were burned ‘for hours’, the activists said, with diesel, scrap tires and pieces of wood thrown in to help the blaze.Once the fire was out whatever was left was poured on to the floor where it was smashed to pieces with shovels”.

We have no words for the sheer brutality of these acts.  

2019 has been one of the most violent years, if not the most, for Mexico. But most crimes are not reported.

Credit: Giphy. @ViceEnEspanol

According to The Scottish Sun: “This year, the number of deaths attributed to the drug wars between January and June was recorded at 17,000 – a new record”. Let that sink in: 17,000, enough to fill a small arena. Most disappearances and crimes in general, however, are not reported in fear of being targeted by organized crime or corrupt authorities.

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Armed Police In Tulum Arrested A Gay Couple For Allegedly Kissing On The Beach

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Armed Police In Tulum Arrested A Gay Couple For Allegedly Kissing On The Beach

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Mexico has remained a popular tourist destination as people seek out places with fewer restrictions. However, Mexico’s popular beach destination of Tulum apparently still has some restrictions – for LGBTQ folks – that the police are quick to enforce.

A Canadian couple was briefly detained by police for allegedly kissing on the beach.

Police in the popular resort town of Tulum, about 90-minutes south of Cancun, briefly arrested a gay couple for kissing in public on a beach, alleging that the couple was not allowed to kiss in public because children were present.

According to local media reports, police said they were reacting to a report by someone else on the beach who had claimed that the men were “committing immoral acts.”

The couple were handcuffed together and ordered in to the back of a patrol vehicle until a crowd of onlookers formed and began to shout disapprovingly at police after one of the men explained to the crowd why they were being detained.

Outraged bystanders gathered around the couple and urged the police to let the men go.

The crowd began shouting in support of the couple, calling the actions homophobic and demanding the couple’s release.

The pressure from the crowd apparently prompted officers to release the men after a few minutes of dialogue. The presence of Escalante herself might also have been a factor.

In response to the arrest, Quintana Roo Tulum Police said: ‘We are an inclusive and impartial police both for residents and tourists who visit the state of Quintana Roo. So no abuse of authority will be tolerated.’

Video of the incident quickly went viral on social media with outrage being the common reaction.

Video and photos of the arrest went viral after on social media accounts, including that of local politician Maritza Escalante Morales, who denounced the actions of the officers. Escalante happened to be at the beach with her family when she noticed the officers approach the couple, she said, and joined the crowd to advocate for the couple’s release.

“I want to file a PUBLIC COMPLAINT, because the treatment and type of authorities we have in our municipality is inexcusable. Yesterday while I was on the beach with my family, we noticed around 4:30 that 2 police squads in their ATVs approached a group of young foreigners. After about 20 minutes, a patrol arrived and proceeded to arrest them with handcuffs,” she explained on TikTok.

“The policemen were VIOLENT,” Morales added, “and gave arguments such as ‘there are families and children and they cannot be seeing this. I am FURIOUS because it is not possible that in the XXI century this type of oppression against the LGBT+ community continues. We all deserve the same treatment, and appropriate sanctions must be applied to these authorities.”

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This Teacher Received A Nissan Pickup Truck Decked Out As A Mobile Classroom

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This Teacher Received A Nissan Pickup Truck Decked Out As A Mobile Classroom

Like students around the world, kids in Mexico have been forced to take school online or tune into programming on public TV in order to learn. But that’s just the kids who are lucky enough to have access to Internet or a TV. Many students live in rural areas and lack the adequate resources to continue their studies amid the global pandemic.

But thankfully, there are many good samaritans out there (aka compassionate teachers) who have invented their own ways to bring the classroom to kids wherever they are.

A Mexican teacher was gifted a decked out pickup truck by Nissan.

Since schools were forced to close last year in April, Aguascalientes special education teacher Nallely Esparza Flores, has been driving four hours a day to educate students one-on-one at their homes from her truck bed, outfitted with a small table and chairs.

News of her project spread across social media, eventually reaching the corporate offices of Nissan México. This week, the company surprised Esparza with the gift of a new pickup truck specially outfitted with a small open-air mobile classroom built into the truck’s bed.

“Today I feel like my labors and the help that we give each day to children and their families is unstoppable,” she said on Twitter Wednesday, sharing photos of her new vehicle. “My students no longer have to take classes in the full heat of the sun,” she said.

Nissan representatives said they decided to give Esparza the adapted NP300 model, 4-cylinder truck after hearing her story because she was “an example of perseverance and empathy.”

“When we learned about the incredible work of this teacher, we got together to discuss in what way we could contribute to this noble work,” said Armando Ávila, a vice president of manufacturing.

The mobile classroom is pretty legit and will allow Esparza to continue her good deed.

Esparza inside her new classroom.

The decked out Nissan pickup truck has three walls (the other is a retractable sheeting) and a ceiling made with translucent panels to protect teacher and student from the elements while letting in natural light.

It also has retractable steps for easy access to the classroom, electrical connections, a whiteboard and an easily disinfected acrylic table and benches that are foldable into the wall to provide space. The table also has a built-in plexiglass barrier to allow social distancing.

Access to education in Mexico is highly inequitable.

Esparza, like many teachers across the country, found that not all distance learning was equal. Many of her students in Cavillo were from poor families without internet access. So she used social media networks to keep in touch with such students via cell phones, but even that was not necessarily an available option for all — and not ideal. Finally, she decided to solve the problem by hitting the road in her pickup truck.

According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), only 58% of students in Mexico had a home computer – the lowest percentage among all OECD countries. And only about one third (32%) of the school computers in rural schools in Mexico were connected to
the Internet, compared to more than 90% for schools located in urban areas.

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