Things That Matter

As Violence Rages On In Tijuana, One City Newspaper Has Started Publishing A ‘Deathometer’

The border town of Tijuana has long been a hot spot of criminal activity due to the proximity with the United States. This port of entry is one of the busiest border crossings in the world. The city is also a convergence point for migrants from all over the world who wish to get to the United States, and criminal gangs, sometimes aided by corrupt authorities, have taken advantage of this situation. These factors, of course, brings numerous challenges when it comes to achieving a much needed and wished for stability. 

But illegal markets for drugs, prostitution and all sorts of illicit activities have made security a real challenge for tijuanenses. And today the consumption of meth has boomed in Tijuana. Drug related violence in Mexico is usually attributed to external markets, but today Tijuana is facing what experts call a meth epidemic. Academics blame this surge in the local market for the ever-increasing body count in the city. 

Murder numbers have not been lowered by the authorities and the bloodshed seems to have no end.

Credit: Balacera Sacude

Regardless on who sits in the presidency (casualties of the cartel wars have not gone down during the Andrés Manuel López Obrador administration, as many had hoped), criminality is hard to curb in Tijuana. Since the days of the once untouchable Arellano Félix brothers, two of the most powerful drug lords in Mexican history, networks of corruption and crime have dug deep roots into the city’s political and social life. This has made it an inhospitable territory for anyone who dissents, from activists to journalists who are constantly targeted.

Today, a Tijuana newspaper even has a Deathometer: there have been 1,800 murders in 2019 alone.

It might sound as a joke to some, but a Deathometer is an indication of hopelessness, an acknowledgement that the savage dogs of war will continue to be fed. A Deathometer is a sort of acceptance of defeat.

As recently reported in an investigative journalism piece in The Guardian, 2019 has been a particularly deathly year in the city, with murders expected to reach 2,000 by the time 2020 arrives. As the Guardian reports: “Tijuana has seen a methamphetamine-fuelled murder epidemic which produced a record 2,518 murders in 2018 and looks set to cause even more this year”. In Mexico overall, there are 100 murders per day on average. Those are wartime statistics. 

Women, men… no one seems to be safe.

Tom Phillips visited Tijuana for a week to write his piece in The Guardian. And he encountered a grisly scenario in just his second day. He writes: “At 6am a man’s body was found dumped in the eastern neighbourhood of EmperadoresAt 11.35am a decomposing pair of legs were spotted on wasteland in the city’s south. And at 2.45pm an unidentified killer barged into a home on Calle Tamaulipas, pulled out a gun and brought an unidentified male’s life to an end”.

This is the daily life of a city of 1.3 million inhabitants and other handful of millions of visitors per year. The authorities have stated that the murder rate has not affected the vibrant and growing economy, but critics say that this is basically tapar el Sol con un dedo (covering the Sun with a finger, a traditional Mexican saying). 

The high cost of impunity: only 10% of crimes end in actual sentencing.

Crime and impunity are like two monsters that feed off each other. In Mexico, about 90% of crimes go unpunished. This is a scandalous statistic that puts into question the efficacy (if any at all) of the judiciary system. Sometimes criminals are found and then set free due to a lack of evidence, corruption or fear of retaliation.

The AMLO government is predicating a strategy based on fixing the social fabric of the country to fight crime. “Abrazos no balazos” (hugs, not bullets) has been used as a mantra when it comes to the new government’s approach to crime. However, as the bloodshed in Culiacan to liberate Ovidio Guzman (El Chapo’s son) and the wave of killings in states like Guerrero and Michoacan have proved, so far this strategy has proven ineffective. 

Let’s not forget that for years Tijuana has been used as a frat boy playground by gringos.

Of course, the influx of American tourism is not the only or most important culprit for the inestability in Tijuana, but it is certainly a factor. Thousands of US citizens cross the border every year to party hard and with very little repercussions. This has led to a constant demand for drugs, but also to human trafficking and child abuse.

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Things That Matter

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

Things That Matter

Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

When it comes to international happiness rankings, Mexico has long done well in many measurements. In fact, in 2019, Mexico placed number 23 beating out every other Latin American country except for Costa Rica. But in 2020, things looks a lot different as the country slipped 23 spots on the list. What does this mean for Mexico and its residents? 

Mexico slips 23 spots on the World Happiness Report thanks to a variety of compelling factors.

Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, the new report indicates.

“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.

The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.

Mexico has struggled especially hard against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started, Mexico has fared far worse than many other countries across Latin America. Today, there are reports that Mexico has been undercounting and underreporting both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths. Given this reality, the country is 2nd worst in the world when it comes to number of suspected deaths, with more than 200,000 people dead. 

Could the happiness level have an impact on this year’s elections?

Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.

But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.

Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.

Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.

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