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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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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