Things That Matter

They Discovered Mass Graves And Now These Grieving Mothers Are Being Threatened By Drug Cartels

Latin American history is full of brutal cases of disappearances that most likely translate into the death of a loved one. From the crimes perpetuated by the military dictatorships in Chile and Argentina, to the attacks on indigenous communities in Central America, numerous citizens have been killed and then their remains disposed of illegally.

Mexico is the latest country to be hit by a wave of desaparecidos, whose desperate relatives literally get down on their knees to dig the Earth and try to find an indication, anything, that could provide a clue on the ultimate fate of their loved ones. We cannot even imagine the pain of not knowing if a family member is alive or dead. Closure is also hard to attain as the circumstances of killings are rarely, if ever, clarified. 

Since 2006, when then president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa waged a direct, and many claimed poorly planned, war against the Mexican drug cartels, the country has become a mass graveyard.

 It is now common, although never ever acceptable, to hear about rural spots in which bones, clothes and other objects indicate that people have been killed. This reminds us, sadly, of dark passages in history, such as the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia, which saw people of all ages and backgrounds murdered in what is infamously known as “the killing fields”. Well, some areas of Mexico are today’s cemeteries for those who faced death in a violent way, while possibly having been tortured. 

It is not only cartel members that are being found in clandestine burial grounds: rotting infant clothes are a common, heartbreaking sight.

In the past 13 or so years, numerous sites have been dug up by desperate relatives, and some by the authorities. In states such as Coahuila they have found the remains of numerous women and children who were caught at the crossfire of the cartel wars. Some migrants coming from Central America have allegedly also been murdered and then buried in the desert. Some corpses indicate that they were burnt or dipped in acid.

This is the true, dehumanizing face of the war on drugs that has plagued Mexico for decades, product of local corruption, weapons being sold by US arms dealers and the insatiable thirst for drugs in Global North markets including the United States, Australia and Western European countries. 

Families in states like Sonora take matters into their own hands and volunteer to form search parties: they are now being threatened.

The Northern state of Sonora, which borders with Arizona and New Mexico, is at the epicenter of the cartel wars. It has a vast border area that is prime “real estate” for traffickers trying to get their product (drugs or, increasingly, victims of human trafficking), from Mexico into the United States. A group of citizens has formed voluntary search parties looking for human remains under the blistering Sonoran sun. As if the task itself wasn’t taxing enough, they are now being threatened by armed men. 

A recent discovery in Puerto Peñasco by the “Searching Mothers of Sonora” group raised a red flag.

The Sonora state prosecutor has revealed that while the mothers were waiting for the authorities to arrive and start investigations on a recently discovered burial pit, a group of sicarios arrived and, gun in hand, threatened them and ordered them to leave. Excavations produced four skeletons, which now need to be identified through a lengthy and costly process of DNA matching. The number of disappeared in Mexico is in the thousands, so even if a body is found matching it with one of the entries in the vast databases (many of which don’t “talk to each other” in the sense that there is no reliable list of desaparecidos) is a hard task. 

These mothers have lost almost everything, so they are proud and fearless.

It is likely that these mothers won’t budge. Their work has extended for years and just last month they found another burial site containing 42 skeletons near an area known as Rocky Point. As Arizona Central reported, when these volunteers found the mass grave they clearly stated their drive behind such a consuming task that basically takes over their lives: “to bring peace to other families that are going through the same pain”.

The figures are overwhelming:  an estimated 40,000 people have gone missing and more than 3,000 graves had been found across the country, according to media reports. Just trying to grasp this figures makes our heads in. It is a geopolitical crisis that needs to be addressed by all parties involved, it is not merely a local problem. 

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Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

Entertainment

Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

tecolotes_2_laredos / Instagram

Sports have a way of bringing people together. The experience of rooting for your team is a unifying feeling that transcends borders and culture. Showtime is exploring the importance of sports through the lens of the Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos.

“Bad Hombres” is a documentary highlighting immigration under President Trump through baseball.

Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos are the only binational professional baseball team in the world. The team splits their home games between stadiums in Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Director Andrew Glazer wanted to highlight the immigration issue through a sports lens to offer a different layer to the narrative.

“Most of the people trying to come into the U.S. are families and children trying to escape horrible violence in Central America,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “That story has been told, so what I wanted to do was show people in a way that I thought would be relatable to what life is like on the border. What life is like on those two sides and how interconnected they are. The thing that struck me to be honest is that initially in Laredo, Texas was how pervasive Spanish is spoken.”

The documentary shows the struggles of the baseball team trying to make sense of the volatile U.S.-Mexico border relations.

The Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos split time playing their home games between two stadiums in the U.S. and Mexico. The Trump administration’s constant battle with Mexico and threats to close the border put the team’s season in jeopardy. A first look teaser shows team managers trying to coordinate the release of game tickets in time with the ever-changing immigration announcements from the Trump administration.

“Bad Hombres” speaks politics without directly addressing politics.

“Even though my film has an overarching political message, the players are not covertly or overtly political in any way,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “They are baseball players and they are living their lives and a lot of them are trying to make it to the majors and some of them were in the majors and are now finishing their careers. There wasn’t a whole lot of political discussions.”

Glazer made sure to highlight the depths and complexities of the team members dealing with the political climate without politics.

“Inherently, what made the team fascinating is you had players from the U.S. who were Anglo-American players and Mexican American players who had a different perspective,” Glazer told DJ Sixsmith. “Then you had Mexican players and some Dominican players and Cuban and people from everywhere else. There were different languages and different perspectives. Seeing how that developed over time was pretty fascinating.”

“Bad Hombres” is streaming on Showtime.

READ: Veronica Alvarez Is The Coach For The Oakland A’s And Her Presence Is Giving Girls A Chance To Pursue Baseball

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Social Media Shows Up To Help Abuela Living In Dire Straights While Taking Care Of Disabled Great-Grandson

Things That Matter

Social Media Shows Up To Help Abuela Living In Dire Straights While Taking Care Of Disabled Great-Grandson

Isabel Zamudio / Getty Images

All too often we hear stories involving social media that don’t paint the best picture of the digital platforms. From trolls coming for people or fights and arguments going public to sexual harassment and doxxing, social media has so often been used as a tool to do harm.

Thankfully, though, that’s not always the case.

Now we get to tell the story of how one viral video has helped rescue a 90-year-old abuelita and her disabled 17-year-old great-grandson from dire straights.

A 90-year-old abuela and her great-grandson will soon have a new home thanks to support from social media.

Last week, a video was posted to social media about the dangerous and unsanitary conditions a 90-year-old woman and her great-grandson were living in. The woman, from Veracruz, Mexico, lived with her great-grandson, Pedro Miguel, in a shack with tarps for walls and rusted-out tin roof.

The shack was furnished with not much more than a bed, which got wet every time it rained. López’s children have died, her grandchildren have abandoned her, and Pedro is basically the only family she has.

Since the video went viral, DIF Family Services agency met with López and her grandson to assess their health and announced both would get the medications they need. Meanwhile, Leonor López, has been housed in a shelter for the elderly and Pedro was placed in a state-run home where each will remain until authorities can find a home for her and Pedro.

The great-grandmother and her great-grandson are all the other has.

Credit: Isabel Zamudio / Getty Images

Leonora has cared for Pedro ever since he was abandoned by his mother shortly after birth. The 17-year-old does not speak and suffers from epileptic seizures.

Before being placed in supportive housing, each day Leonor would leave her house with a rope tied to the arm of her great-grandson as they went out to collect whatever they could to earn money. Some days they’d collect aluminum cans or cardboard to sell and some days they’d visit verdulerías or even private homes to dig through the garbage to find something to eat.

Every two months Leonora would receive her disability pension of $2,500 pesos (or about $125 USD), which she had to use to buy medicines for Pedro. She also told Milenio that she owes money from the last time Pedro got severely ill.

“When he gets sick I take him to the hospital or to the Red Cross, but they charge me a lot, because he has seizures. This time he got sick I took him but they charged me $6,400 [pesos or ($320 USD)] for three days of care.”

However, since being taken into assisted care, Pedro has also been enrolled to receive his own disability pension, which will definitely help address his medical costs.

Sadly, there misfortunes haven’t ended there.

In what is truly a disappointing story, often times when Leonor and Pedro have gone out to try and earn what money they can, they’re home is robbed of what little they have. According to their neighbor Rogelio, the community hasn’t come to their support – instead they steal from the family.

“I don’t see someone coming to help her, on the contrary, what little she has there they steal from her, even though she is alone in her house they steal what little she can gather; people take advantage,” Rogelio told Milenio.

Thankfully, the viral video has helped spur change for the family and they’ll soon have a proper home and the government benefits they’re both entitled to.

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