Things That Matter

The Diplomatic Incident Between Mexico And Bolivia Has Intensified With One Bolivian Official Calling AMLO A ‘Cowardly Thug’

What started as a dispute over asylum status for nine supporters of former Bolivian President Evo Morales has now spiraled out of control into a full international crisis.

Bolivia’s interim government initially contested Mexico’s decision to grant asylum to Evo Morales who fled the country. But it was Mexico’s granting of asylum to nine former Morales’ supporters within the Mexican embassy in La Paz that has started this entire diplomatic row. Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Minister complained that the embassy was ‘under siege’ as Bolivian security forces surrounded the complex.

This situation grew even larger on Friday, as Spain was pulled into the confrontation.

The diplomatic crisis between Mexico and Bolivia has now even pulled in the likes of Spain into the chaos.

The diplomatic situation between Bolivia and Mexico continues to reach new lows. According to Bolivian Foreign Minister Karen Longaric, Spanish diplomats visiting the Mexican compound were joined by masked and armed men. She called that a brazen attack on Bolivian sovereignty and said she’d lodge a complaint with the United Nations.

The interim government already has been feuding with Mexico, which not only gave refuge to the nine, but also sheltered ousted leader Evo Morales when he resigned the presidency on November 10 after losing the support of the military and police following days of turbulent protests over alleged fraud in his reelection bid.

The Mexican embassy in La Paz is housing nine opponents to the current Bolivian government and the government is intensifying police presence around the building.

Embassies have a different jurisdictional status in the countries that house them compared to normal office buildings of houses. According to international law and agreements, security forces in the host country do not have full rights to enter embassies as they are considered de facto territories of the guest nations.

This is why when someone is fearing for their life or escaping the law on a matter that they deem unjust, some countries decide to open its embassies for political dissidents and activists. We can think, for example, of the super famous Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder who spent years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Now supporters of Evo Morales are seeking refuge in foreign embassies of countries whose governments were politically aligned with Morales, such as AMLO’s government in Mexico.

Nine Bolivians are now housed in the Mexican embassy in La Paz, but the new government has increased police presence around the building, making staff feel threatened and basically holding the embassy under siege.

As AAP indicates: “Since Monday, Mexico has accused the new conservative Bolivian government of heightening the police presence outside the embassy in La Paz and intimidating its staff”. 

The situation is so tense that Mexico is taking matters to the international court of The Hague.

Mexico’s highest ranking diplomatic official, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, has gotten involved. As the Australian Associated Press reports: “Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told a regular news briefing on Thursday that his government was appealing to the court, based in The Hague, to mediate in the dispute, which centres on Mexico’s decision to grant asylum to nine people at its embassy.”

Ebrard weighed what is at stake in this matter, which could set a precedent in terms of what the interim government of Bolivia, a far-right coalition, might do. He said: “What is in between here is the integrity of a representation of Mexico, it is our territory. In addition to calling into question the right to asylum.”

Mexican president AMLO was also quick to weigh in: “Let us hope that the right of asylum will be reconsidered, the right to be respected, and it will deviate from any temptation to take or violate our sovereignty, by wanting to penetrate the Mexican embassy in Bolivia.” He also said that not even Pinochet acted that way, referring to the Chilean far-right dictator who ruled over the South American country with an iron fist.  

But of course the response from his Bolivian counterpart was quick to come… 

Bolivian officials have blasted Mexico’s move, claiming that Mexico asked for increased security in the first place.

Bolivia’s chancellor, Karen Longaric, has criticized Mexico’s move, saying: “No one can forward claims for actions that are not proved or based on assumptions voiced by the Mexican Foreign Ministry.” She said that it was Mexican officials themselves who asked for increased security when massive protests erupted and violence in the streets of La Paz became commonplace for weeks.

According to Sputnik News Service: “Longaric pointed out the interim government’s commitment to international law and reassured that the country’s leadership would never order security forces to enter the embassy’s territory without the due permission of the diplomatic mission.” 

In the meantime, Evo Morales has accused the United States of orchestrating a coup to oust him and to dig into the country’s lithium reserves.

Credit: Robert Sieland

In the meantime, Evo Morales, the ousted president, told AFP that big mining money is behind the change of government. He said: “It was a national and international coup d’etat. Industrialised countries don’t want competition.”

From Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he is currently living in exile, Morales said that his government was seeking Chinese and Russian investment to mine the vast reserves of lithium that lay under Bolivian soil. The United States, he believes, did not want the competition and wants to mine the reserves themselves. Lithium is key for the manufacturing of computers and mobile devices, and an extremely coveted commodity in the digital age. 

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This Teacher Received A Nissan Pickup Truck Decked Out As A Mobile Classroom

Things That Matter

This Teacher Received A Nissan Pickup Truck Decked Out As A Mobile Classroom

Like students around the world, kids in Mexico have been forced to take school online or tune into programming on public TV in order to learn. But that’s just the kids who are lucky enough to have access to Internet or a TV. Many students live in rural areas and lack the adequate resources to continue their studies amid the global pandemic.

But thankfully, there are many good samaritans out there (aka compassionate teachers) who have invented their own ways to bring the classroom to kids wherever they are.

A Mexican teacher was gifted a decked out pickup truck by Nissan.

Since schools were forced to close last year in April, Aguascalientes special education teacher Nallely Esparza Flores, has been driving four hours a day to educate students one-on-one at their homes from her truck bed, outfitted with a small table and chairs.

News of her project spread across social media, eventually reaching the corporate offices of Nissan México. This week, the company surprised Esparza with the gift of a new pickup truck specially outfitted with a small open-air mobile classroom built into the truck’s bed.

“Today I feel like my labors and the help that we give each day to children and their families is unstoppable,” she said on Twitter Wednesday, sharing photos of her new vehicle. “My students no longer have to take classes in the full heat of the sun,” she said.

Nissan representatives said they decided to give Esparza the adapted NP300 model, 4-cylinder truck after hearing her story because she was “an example of perseverance and empathy.”

“When we learned about the incredible work of this teacher, we got together to discuss in what way we could contribute to this noble work,” said Armando Ávila, a vice president of manufacturing.

The mobile classroom is pretty legit and will allow Esparza to continue her good deed.

Esparza inside her new classroom.

The decked out Nissan pickup truck has three walls (the other is a retractable sheeting) and a ceiling made with translucent panels to protect teacher and student from the elements while letting in natural light.

It also has retractable steps for easy access to the classroom, electrical connections, a whiteboard and an easily disinfected acrylic table and benches that are foldable into the wall to provide space. The table also has a built-in plexiglass barrier to allow social distancing.

Access to education in Mexico is highly inequitable.

Esparza, like many teachers across the country, found that not all distance learning was equal. Many of her students in Cavillo were from poor families without internet access. So she used social media networks to keep in touch with such students via cell phones, but even that was not necessarily an available option for all — and not ideal. Finally, she decided to solve the problem by hitting the road in her pickup truck.

According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), only 58% of students in Mexico had a home computer – the lowest percentage among all OECD countries. And only about one third (32%) of the school computers in rural schools in Mexico were connected to
the Internet, compared to more than 90% for schools located in urban areas.

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Sen. Ted Cruz Makes Quick U-Turn From Mexico After Outrage He Abandoned His Frozen Texas

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Sen. Ted Cruz Makes Quick U-Turn From Mexico After Outrage He Abandoned His Frozen Texas

Sen. Ted Cruz has faced a series of outrages since being accused of helping to incite the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The latest problem plaguing Sen. Cruz is his trip to Mexico while his constituents in Texas freeze during an extreme weather event.

Sen. Ted Cruz was caught boarding a flight to Mexico as Texans are left freezing.

Texas is being slammed with a historic extreme winter weather storm. Hundreds of thousands of Texans are without power for the fifth day in a row while the senator from Texas was heading off to Cancun. Critics are angered that Sen. Cruz would leave the state while his constituents are forced to boil water to survive one of the worst winter storms on record.

Politicians are calling Sen. Cruz out for leaving his constituents during a natural disaster.

The Castro brothers are speaking up as well. Texans are dying from the extreme weather after the power grid was overloaded from sudden demand. The power outages have lasted for multiple days and the death toll continues to climb from the freezing temperatures. So far, 24 people have died from the winter storm.

Part of the problem is that Texas has their own power grid separated from the rest of the nation in an attempt to avoid federal regulations. The decision was made in the 1930s after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed the Federal Power Act. This allowed the federal government to oversee interstate electricity sales. However, Texas utilities did not cross state lines. This created an electricity island.

People are not letting the trip go unnoticed.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is responsible for overseeing the power grid and officials had a grim revelation about the power outages. On Tuesday, ERCOT CEO Bill Magness addressed the media about the power outages.

“We needed to step in and make sure that we were not going to end up with Texas in a blackout, which could keep folks without power — not just some people without power but everyone in our region without power — for much, much longer than we believe this event is going to last, as long and as difficult as this event is right now,” Magness said about the call to cut power to some customers as the icy conditions settled in on the area.

He further explained that some of the power outages could last for an undetermined amount of time.

This is not the first time Texas had weather-induced power outages because of winter weather. The state saw the same situation on a smaller scale play out in 2011. The winter storm in 2011 knocked out power across the state and yet Texas officials did not follow suggestions to prevent the current crisis.

A report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation called on Texas to “winterize” their energy infrastructure. The report highlights how the current infrastructure was not ready to take on the weather it experienced in 2011 and, according to The Texas Tribune, Texas didn’t heed the warning.

On Tuesday, 60 percent of Houston businesses and households remained without power because of the weather.

Sen. Cruz quickly booked a return flight to Houston after the outrage.

Facing mounting anger over his warm escape from Texas, Sen Cruz quickly U-turned back to Houston. He claims to have been accompanying his daughters to Mexico and not going on the vacation himself.

A flurry of tweets about the situation show a growing number of people who are skeptical of the senator’s statement. Ted Cruz was photographed with luggage both in Texas and coming back through the Cancun airport. The luggage has set off a debate about whether or not Sen. Cruz honestly went to Mexico to drop his daughters.

READ: Sen. Joe Manchin Calls On Senate To Expel Sen. Ted Cruz After Insurrection

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