Things That Matter

The Government Failed To Help Them So Drug Cartels Stepped In To Deliver Lifesaving Aid

In the aftermath of the tropical storm Priscilla, the Jalisco cartel has stepped in to provide humanitarian aid to victims. Fortunately, by the time Priscilla hit Mexico’s southwestern coast last week, it was downgraded to a tropical depression as it weakened after making landfall. 

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel was recorded on video using their organized crime infrastructure to distribute packages of food in Tomatlán. 

Cartel caught on video delivering aid to victims.

“Here we are with all the people giving them aid. The people are very grateful for this support. . .” a suspected CJNG gunman says in a video. 

Another man in the footage says the aid comes courtesy of Señor Mencho also known as Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera Cervantes. 

“This aid . . . comes from the boss, our boss, the señor Mencho,” the man says. “[I’m telling you] so that you know where it comes from, so that you don’t think that it’s from the [family services agency] DIF or another company.” 

In the video, two pickup trucks filled with packages of food and aid arrive. Residents of the community in Morelos are seen taking the package. 

This isn’t the first time the Jalisco cartel has done social work. 

According to Mexico News Daily, children in 15 municipalities in the Veracruz’s mountainous region received toys from the cartel on Children’s Day this summer. 

Each gift came with a card that read, “the CJNG wishes you a happy Children’s Day.” The cartel said on social media that it would deliver gifts to the “towns most forgotten by the authorities.” 

“We bring a moment of joy and happiness to the children. The Jalisco New Generation Cartel not only looks after the safety of the people of Veracruz, it also seeks to give support to those who need it the most,” they said. 

The cartel claims its job is, “is to look after and defend the rights of the working people.” As far as being up for the task? “We are here, steadfast and ready,” they wrote. 

Mexico News Daily says the cartel’s humanitarian efforts are really just recruitment methods to groom young children into trusting them. 

“The practice appears to be a part of efforts by organized crime to recruit new people. Security Secretary Alfredo Durazo said last September, before he took up his post, that at least 460,000 young people were employed by criminal gangs, according to estimates by various civil organizations,” the newspaper wrote. 

Cartels have provided emergency aid in Mexico before. 

In 2013, according to Mercury News, the Gulf Cartel which controls the country’s northeast, provided food, water, and medical supplies to a rural town effected by Hurricane Ingrid in Tamaulipas state. 

Mercury News notes that it is a common practice for cartels to present themselves as a positive force in society. 

“The powerful drug gangs strive to present themselves as the ‘good bad guys,’ interested only in smuggling narcotics to consumers in the United States while leaving Mexican communities in peace,” they wrote. 

In a 2014 video, the Gulf Cartel shared a YouTube video of members handing out cakes traditionally eaten by Catholics before Epiphany. The cartel members visited schools, hospitals, poor neighborhoods, and nursing homes. 

“We take care of our people and always help,” the video caption read, according to Newsweek. 

Cartels use social media to change their public image just like anyone else.

Newsweek suggests that as cartels used more inhumane tactics including throwing human heads into busy dance floors, sewing the face of a victim onto a soccer ball, and hanging bodies off bridges — they’ve also sought to rehab their public image. 

The public relations helps the public to “not see them as enemies but rather, as people who can help, so that when there is a police operation, the community does not report them,” says Jorge Chabat, a drug and security expert, told Newsweek

The practice was also used by Pablo Escobar, who built soccer fields and public housing in Colombia during the 1980s. However, with the rise of social media cartels have taken to YouTube and Facebook to create positive reputations. 

In a 2011 YouTube video, cartel members dressed in black with their faces obscured, holding rifles delivered a message.

“Since 2006, we have been fighting for the tranquility and safety of each and every one of our compatriots in the state,” a voice-over said. 

Like the social outreach initiatives of American gangs, cartel public service in Mexico exists in a morally grey area. As social services fail the poor, sometimes the more nefarious members of society are the only groups willing to help the most vulnerable. However, the help of the cartel will always come at a price if not for the individuals who face future recruitment than for the society at large.

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Two Weeks Ago He Lost His Home To Hurricane Eta And Now Hurricane Iota Threatens His Entire Community

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Two Weeks Ago He Lost His Home To Hurricane Eta And Now Hurricane Iota Threatens His Entire Community

WENDELL ESCOTO/AFP via Getty Images

Once again, the year 2020 is delivering a shocker but this time it‘s in the form of devastation caused by a record-breaking hurricane season. So far, the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season, which is set to end on Nov. 30, has had 30 named storms, 13 of them hurricanes. And six of those hurricanes were considered “major”— Eta and Iota among them — meaning they were Category 3 or higher.

Meteorologists have been forced to use the Greek alphabet to name the new systems after having exhausted the 21-name list that is prepared for each hurricane season. The last time the Greek alphabet was used was in 2005, when there were 28 storms strong enough to be named.

Now, as Hurricane Iota ravages Central America, it’s becoming clear that an imminent humanitarian catastrophe is setting up across the region.

Hurricane Iota is ravaging Central America just two weeks after communities there were hit by Hurricane Eta.

Late on Monday, Hurricane Iota made landfall as a powerful and “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane. Aside form the catastrophic winds and life-threatening storm surge, the hurricane is impacting already devastated communities recently hit by Hurricane Eta.

People across Central America will feel the impacts of this record breaking storm, which is expected to produce up to 30 inches of rain in some areas of Nicaragua and Honduras through Friday. The intense rainfall could lead to significant flash flooding and mudslides in higher elevations, the hurricane center said.

Dozens of Indigenous communities were evacuated throughout the weekend in Nicaragua and Honduras, where the military shared pictures on Twitter of soldiers helping people out of stilted wooden homes and carrying them to safety. One of the soldiers stood in knee deep water, holding a resident’s pink backpack in the same arm as his service weapon.

The forecast, at least, offers some hope for those in Iota’s path. The National Hurricane Center expects the storm to rapidly weaken over the next 36 hours as it moves toward El Salvador across the mountainous terrain of inland Nicaragua and Honduras.

Honduras was hit particularly hard by Hurricane Eta.

Central America is still reeling from Hurricane Eta, which struck less than two weeks ago and made landfall about 15 miles from where Iota did. Aid workers are still struggling to reach communities cut off by washed-out bridges, downed trees and flooded roads.

According to the Red Cross, more than 3.6 million people across the region have been affected by the storms.

Antonio Herrera told Mitú in an interview that his modest home had already been reduced to rubble by Eta. Herrera and his daughter were staying in an improvised shelter but it’s directly in the path of Hurricane Iota. A GoFundMe has been setup to help Herrera and his family recover from the devastation wrought by both hurricanes.

“This Hurricane Iota is a monster,” he said. “After Eta and the damaged it caused, I’m afraid for all of us.”

Herrera added that even without a disaster devastating the region, Honduras is a country where half the population doesn’t have enough food to eat. And now, because of Hurricane Eta, Herrera counts himself among that group of Hondurans.

He adds that, “Honduras is a challenging place just to make sure that the everyday needs are met. And of course, all of this happening during a global pandemic — no possibility of social distancing, obviously, in those sheltering situations.”

Many Central American leaders are blaming climate change for the disasters and are seeking international aid.

Credit: Josue Decavele/Getty Images

As the region is pummeled by storm after storm, the leaders of Honduras and Guatemala have called for in increase in international funding to help combat the effects of climate change – which are having an outsized impact on the region.

“Central America is not the producer of this climate change situation,” the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, said at a news conference. “Instead, we are the most affected.”

President Orlando has called on the United Nations to declare Central America as the region most affected by climate change worldwide.

“Hunger, poverty and destruction do not have years to wait,” said Alejandro Giammattei, the Guatemalan leader. “If we don’t want to see hordes of Central Americans looking to go to countries with a better quality of life, we have to create walls of prosperity in Central America.”

Disclaimer: The author of this story has a personal connection with Antonio Herrera, a victim of these storms in Honduras mentioned in this story. The GoFundMe for Herrera was created before this story was written but was included as many GoFundMe fundraisers are when relevant.

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Uplifting News: Mexican Man Used His Home to Shelter 300 Dogs From Hurricane Delta

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Uplifting News: Mexican Man Used His Home to Shelter 300 Dogs From Hurricane Delta

Photo: Tierra de Animales/Facebook

In some uplifting news, a Mexican man has gone viral for housing stray dogs in need of shelter before Hurricane Delta hit the Yucatan peninsula in early October. Ricardo Pimentel of Cancun, Mexico, wrote on Facebook that he had boarded up his home’s windows and was currently housing 300 rescue dogs before the storm hit.

As background, Hurricane Delta touched down in Cozumel and Cancun and was reported to have winds up to 110 mph. The storm caused power outages, fallen trees, and the destruction of buildings and businesses. Luckily, Pimentel decided to get creative when it came to protecting his helpless four-legged friends from the ravages of the outdoors.

Photo: tierradeanimales/Instagram

Pimentel already owns an animal sanctuary called Tierra de Animales, but he decided to open up his home to the homeless dogs. Naturally, he need all the help he could get to take care of the canine creatures. He took to his Facebook page to ask for donations.

“If I lived alone or nothing else with about 10 or 20 dogs, I would not worry much,” wrote Pimentel on his Facebook page. “But here are hundreds of animals and we can not afford to not have enough food stored.” According to Pimentel, he was worried about there being food shortages at the grocery stores in the aftermath of the unpredictable storm.

The post was accompanied by a a jaw-dropping photo of Pimentel surrounded by a sea of dogs packed into his home. The call-to-action quickly took off and Pimentel was soon receiving thousands of dollars in donations.

At first, Pimentel was distracted by the storm and wasn’t initially aware of how deeply he touched people. When he finally saw how people had rallied to support him and his sanctuary, he was humbled.

Photo: Tierra de Animales/Facebook

“Your support at this time has been invaluable, we deeply appreciate all your messages, calls, and shows of affection,” he wrote on Facebook. “Thank you on behalf of all the animals in the sanctuary!”

According to Pimentel, many of the dogs he’s rescued on his sanctuary have been saved from dog-fighting rings and abusive homes where they’ve been badly beaten. He founded Tierra de Animales around 20 years ago as a place where dogs and other animals (including cats, bunnies, and sheep) can be safe and live a good life.

He says that his animals have been adopted by homes in Mexico, Canada and the United States. He hopes that the attention that the rescue dogs got from his viral post will encourage people to adopt them.

“We would like to think that thanks to all this attention, somebody would like to be part of the story and say: ‘I adopted a dog saved from that famous Hurricane Delta,” he told The Associated Press.

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