Things That Matter

He Started Selling Nopales To Survive The Pandemic, And Mexicans Helped This Abuelito’s Business Go Viral

Economies around the world are in free fall as the global pandemic forces business to close and workers to stay at home. A portion of the population is fortunate enough to be able to work from the safety of their home, but for many that’s not an option.

Across Latin America, the majority of the population works in the informal economy – running street food stalls, selling electronics on the metro, or cleaning homes. For these workers, a day without work could mean the difference between eating or not.

Street vendors across Mexico are suffering as their customer base is forced to stay indoors amid the pandemic.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

It’s estimated that about 60% of Mexico’s population works in the informal economy – meaning they’re unregulated and don’t have access to government or employer benefits like paid time off, health insurance, etc. They’re especially at risk when it comes to the economic costs of the global Coronavirus pandemic.

Their predicament is widespread throughout the developing world. Hundreds of millions of workers and self-employed service providers form a vast informal economy, from Mexico to Colombia to Brazil. Most have no access to unemployment insurance or much in the way of savings.

Alfredo is a nopal vendor who has lost most of his business due to the pandemic and struggled to feed his family.

Credit: Productos Riveras / Facebook

In Mexico’s Sonora state, Alfredo Rivera has spent the last 40 years selling nopales and he’s never struggled as much as he is now under the Coronavirus pandemic. His business has all but dried up as his customers are forced to stay indoors for their own safety.

In an interview with El Universal, Rivera says “It’s very difficult to sell because the streets are basically empty. For us, it’s so hard because we live day to day and we don’t have other options. This is why we continue to fight.”

He added: “We have had it hard because people don’t want to go out, let alone have contact with other people. Likewise, since some people in our town aren’t working, they also can’t afford to buy from us.”

Workers are getting creative and turning to technology to help boost their sales.

Credit: Adriana Magallanes / Flickr

The nopal vendor in Sonora, on the advice of his wife, created a Facebook page to help draw in more clients. To his surprise, the Facebook page has helped boost demand and he’s sod out his entire supply of nopales for the rest of April.

And the family is extremely grateful to the community for their support.

They were extremely worried about the economic effects of the pandemic because they have a son with a disability which puts him at increased risk of contracting the virus.

Rivera isn’t the only informal worker worried about the economic ramifications of the pandemic.

Credit: Evaristo Sa / Getty

Across the globe, communities are struggling to make ends meet amid an economic slowdown. Protests have broken out in cities in the United States, India, and Brazil against the quarantine measures many governments have put into place.

Such sentiments could prove combustible across a swath of countries where there already is anger at ruling elites—a possibility not lost on government officials, who have scrambled to put together emergency aid packages.

For such people, “if the alternative is to starve to death, they’re going to want to go back to work,” said Cynthia Arnson, who heads the Latin America Program at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars. “People are going to say, ‘What are my odds of getting Covid-19 and really suffering from it as opposed to not being able to feed my family?’”

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Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Things That Matter

Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Hector Vivas / Getty Images

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador criticized the historic role of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Mexico after a former Mexican army chief was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles on drug charges at the request of the DEA.

The former Mexican Defense Minister was arrested by the DEA on drug charges.

Salvador Cienfuegos Zepedas was the secretary of National Defense in the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto from 2012 to 2018. President Lopez Obrador claims that the arrest is proof of corruption from past governments.

President Lopez Obrador used the arrest to criticize the U.S. government and the DEA.

President Lopez Obrador, speaking at a press conference in Oaxaca, claimed that there is a double standard. While Cienfuegos Zepedas has been arrested by the DEA, the president claims U.S. officials have not been held accountable for trafficking arms into Mexico to track them to the cartels. According to the president, Mexican officials are being held at a higher and harsher standard than U.S. officials.

“Why is it that it’s just the people in Mexico who took part in these acts being accused or implicated, and (the DEA) aren’t criticizing themselves, reflecting on the meddling by all these agencies in Mexico,” Lopez Obrador said at the press conference. “They came into the country with complete freedom, they did whatever they wanted.”

The former defense minister’s arrest sent shockwaves through Mexico.

Cienfuegos Zepedas was the first high-ranking Mexican military official to be arrested in the U.S. with drug-related corruption. He was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport and will be facing drug and money-laundering charges. It’s been less than a year since Genaro Garcia Luna was charged with taking bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

President Lopez Obrador wants to protect the military’s reputation.

Lopez Obrador also said he hopes that the armed forces aren’t blamed for this scandal and that Mexico must take care of institutions as important as the Secretary of National Defense. Mexico does not currently have an ongoing investigation of the retired general and will await the result of the U.S. investigation, according to the president of Mexico. 

Cienfuegos Zepedas is due to make a court appearance related to four charges in California on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020.

READ: This Is What Mexico’s AMLO Wants From The Pope For The Churches Crimes Against Indigenous Mexicans

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


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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