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.

Video Of A Mariachi Band Serenading A Hospital Full Of Health Workers And Covid-19 Patients In Mexico Goes Viral And OMG It’s Amazing

Things That Matter

Video Of A Mariachi Band Serenading A Hospital Full Of Health Workers And Covid-19 Patients In Mexico Goes Viral And OMG It’s Amazing

@Notimex / Twitter

Like the rest of the world, Mexico has been struggling during the Coronavirus pandemic. But as most of the country is in lockdown, tens of thousands of healthcare workers are on the frontlines. They’re logging long and hard hours – putting themselves at a huge risk to confront this growing beast.

From New York to Milan, and now in Mexico City, creative residents have come up with moving tributes to these heroes.

With few audiences to play to these days, a group of Mariachi players staged a show outside one of Mexico City’s largest hospitals.

Credit: @NotiMex / Twitter

Plaza Garibaldi, in the historical center of Mexico City, is typically a Mariachi haven. There are usually hundreds of bands roving the square for willing customers asking for classic Mariachi hits – and it can be a lucrative job.

But on Tuesday, about 120 mariachis got together at a hospital to serenade those affected by the pandemic.

Julio César Barragán, the National Mariachi Association spokesman, said that the goal of the musicians was to lift the spirits of patients and health care workers at Mexico’s National Institute of Respiratory Diseases.

“We did this to give encouragement, solidarity and hope to the sick and to medical staff,” Barragán said, according to Mexican news portal Eje Central.

Obviously, such a powerful tribute quickly started going viral.

Wearing face masks (which trumpeters lowered temporarily in order to play their instruments) and maintaining a “healthy distance” from each other, the musicians assembled outside the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases, where they played a range of classic mariachi songs.

The serenata coincided with World Health Day, a World Health Organization initiative whose main purpose this year is to celebrate the work of nurses and midwives and remind world leaders of the critical role they play in keeping the world healthy.

The show of support comes at a time when most street musicians in Mexico City struggle with unemployment.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Demand for Mariachis has fallen by 70%, as the COVID-19 crisis dealt a serious blow to the tourism industry in the capital.

“The situation is very critical,” according to Antonio Guzmán, a 35-year mariachi veteran in Mexico City. Adding: “I used to arrive at Plaza Garibaldi at 10 in the morning and leave at 8 at night. Now, with coronavirus, I have to arrive earlier, around 8 in the morning, without having had breakfast and I go home at 10 or 11 with nothing in my stomach,” he said.

“Sometimes I arrive home with my hands empty,” added Guzmán.

According to the Mexican newspaper Milenio, starting Thursday the mariachi association will start offering events on an online platform to raise money for the more than 2,000 families of mariachi musicians affected by the pandemic.

At the same time these healthcare workers are being celebrated, others across the country are facing discrimination.

According to a report by El Universal, fake news and ignorance are creating a hostile environment for healthcare workers across the country. Many are being discriminaed against, threatened, and even attacked.

Just days ago, residents in Morelos state (just south of Mexico City) protested outside a public hospital demanding Covid-19 patients not be treated in their city – they even threatened to burn down the building. One protester, even threatened the head doctor with being burned alive.

Healthcare workers have even stopped wearing their uniforms on their way to and from work for fear of being attacked.

Mexico’s Beaches Are Still Full Of Crowds Celebrating Semana Santa Despite Calls For Social Distancing

Things That Matter

Mexico’s Beaches Are Still Full Of Crowds Celebrating Semana Santa Despite Calls For Social Distancing

@YucatanPareja / Twitter

Although Mexico’s President has come under fire from much of the international community for his relaxed approach to confronting the Covid-19 crisis, many municipalities and states are taking an aggressive stance to halt the pandemic.

In fact, all of Mexico’s more than 6,000 miles of coastline have been closed. That means zero access to beaches – a major draw for millions of local and international tourists.

Officially, all of Mexico’s beaches are closed.

Credit: @localesoaxaca / Twitter

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell told a press conference on Thursday that the closure order applies to every beach in the country until the end of the national emergency on April 30.

“The order has been given. It obliges state and municipal authorities to take coherent measures and suspend tourist activity on beaches, be it international or local tourism,” he said.

Other states had already begun to close beaches earlier this week.

Those closures impacted some of the county’s most popular tourist attractions, including Baja California Sur, Baja California and Oaxaca, where local authorities closed down the country’s only nudist beach, Zipolite. Like beaches throughout Mexico, Zipolite is a big draw during the Semana Santa (Easter Week) vacation in April.

Authorities in Tamaulipas and Sonora had also begun to close beaches before the order, and Guerrero announced Wednesday that its beaches would be closed beginning Thursday.

“The state government makes this delicate decision in an unsatisfactory setting: we have had to choose between protecting life and suspending economic activity,” the state government said in a press release.

These authorities recognize that the economy – although it will be impacted – will recover.

Credit: Secretaria de Salud / Gobierno de Mexico

It said that the economy will always be recoverable as long as the human factor still exists and urged citizens to stay at home and practice other methods of social distancing.

But not everyone seems to have got the memo – as miles of beaches remained full of vacationers.

Credit: Pixabay

Even though it’s been proven that social distancing is our greatest tool against the growing pandemic, some are choosing to ignore these guidelines. And as a result, their risking the health of millions.

Over the weekend, people decided to defy the government’s order to stay at home and instead enjoy a day out at the beach in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz. The newspaper Milenio reported that Playa Villa del Mar near the port city of Veracruz was packed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with both revelers and vendors offering products such as swimming suits, food and alcoholic beverages.

President López Obrador on Friday ruled out any possibility of implementing “draconian measures” such as a curfew to contain the spread of Covid-19, while he said two weeks ago that he wanted to avoid a complete shutdown of the economy because it would disproportionately hurt the poor.

As if people needed another reason to stay clear of beaches – other than you know, a global pandemic – wild animals are making a comeback in less populated areas.

Credit: @infolliteras / Twitter

Videos have captured the animals in Quintana Roo, where the resorts of Cancun and Riviera Maya are located.

One video, which has been watched 120,000 times on Facebook, shows a huge crocodile swimming along a canal between balconies. The people filming express their shock at the animal as he swims past without stopping for the people watching him.

Another video captured a jaguar roaming the streets of Tulum. According to local media, the big cat was spotted near the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort & Spa.