Future

Free WiFi For All? Cities (And Nations) Making Universal Digital Access A Right

Whether it's to bridge the socioeconomic digital divide or to attract tourists, foreign businesses and digital nomads, the time may be ripe to offer free internet access across society. Here are some of those leading the push.

For years, certain big cities have been wooing tourists and remote workers by offering free WiFi hotspots to help find the best restaurants or connect for meetings from a park bench. This month, Mexico City won the Guinness World Record for most free WiFi hotspots in the world, with 21,500.

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Police Bust Mexican Drug Gang For Recruiting Boys Via Video Games

The three victims, 14 and younger, were contacted while playing the online game Free Fire, and promised paid work.

OAXACA — Police in Mexico have intervened to rescue three minors, aged 11 to 14, from recruitment into a drug gang that had enticed them through online gaming.

A top Mexican police agency official Ricardo Mejía Berdeja, said the gang had contacted the youths in the south-central city of Oaxaca, chatting through a free-to-download game called Free Fire, which involves shooting at rivals with virtual firearms.

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Columbus Statue In Mexico City Is Coming Back — Quietly

Target of vandalism and anti-colonial protests, the Christopher Columbus statue in the emblematic Plaza Colón (Columbus Place) lost its place to an indigenous woman statue. But now officials have voted to put it back up in a quiet and chic district called Polanco.

MEXICO CITY — Christopher Columbus, the 15th century "discoverer" of the Americas, has recently been having a bad run in the Western Hemisphere, among the European conquerors getting a bitter anti-colonial reassessment of their supposed heroic role in history. In Mexico City, authorities recently decided not to restore the prominent Columbus statue to the spot it had occupied since the 19th century, after it was taken down for repairs in October 2020.

Now, Mexico's Council of Monuments, a state body, decided unanimously to move Columbus from the emblematic Plaza Colón (Columbus Place) along the city's most prestigious avenue, to a quieter, residential district called Polanco, the Heraldo de México daily reported.

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Nurse In Mexico "Too Tired" To Inject COVID Vaccine

Video captures doseless jab...

VERACRUZ — A nurse in the eastern Mexican port of Veracruz has become the poster child for "pandemic fatigue" after a video showing her jabbing a patient but failing to actually inject the COVID-19 vaccine made the rounds of social media.

Her excuse? The healthcare worker says she was simply "too tired" to administer the dose, the newspaper Excelsior reported this week. She noted that staff working at the vaccination point, in the state's Luis Pirata Fuente stadium, had been working long days for the vaccinations.

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GLOBAL PRESS JOURNAL
Adriana Alcázar González, Mar García and Marissa Revilla 

Why So Many In Mexico Don't Trust The Coronavirus Vaccine

Despite the pandemic's heavy toll, people remain reluctant to inoculate, in part because of persistent doubts about the country's public health system.

TUXTLA GUTIÉRREZ Sitting in her sister's restaurant in the smothering midday heat of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, in Mexico's southernmost state of Chiapas, Ricarda Jiménez Tevera prepares a cuchunuc flower freshly cut from the tree for cooking. Later the flower will be part of traditional dishes such as quesadillas or tamales, but for now Jiménez Tevera is fired up about something else.

"I've never been vaccinated; I don't believe in vaccines," says the forceful Jiménez Tevera, gray-white hair tied in a ponytail. "We're used to taking herbs. A lot of people aren't going to get vaccinated."

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Geopolitics
Luis Rubio

President AMLO's Misguided Nostalgia Creeps Toward Despotism

Mexico's socialist president is determined to restore a 'strong' presidency he believes will put things right in Mexico. To many, he is starting to look like another tropical dictator of sort.

-OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — Napoleon Bonaparte once declared that one must be petty to win power, but high-minded and generous in its exercise. Three years into his presidency, Mexico's Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) seems only to have grasped the "petty" part. He doesn't — or refuses to — understand the difference.

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food / travel
Alidad Vassigh

Poll: 29% Of Tourists Choose Mexico City For Its *Beaches

*¿Dónde está la playa?

A quick look at a map of Mexico will tell you that its capital, Mexico City, lies pretty much smack dab in the middle of the country. With the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico a five-hour drive in either direction, Mexico City is as landlocked as they come. Unlike many other major cities, it doesn't even have a river.

So this may come as a bit of a surprise that a study on tourism in the Mexican capital, conducted by the city's business association COPARMEX, found that almost 30% of potential foreign visitors to the bustling megalopolis said they were particularly looking forward to enjoying "its beaches."

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WORLDCRUNCH
Alidad Vassigh

In Mexico, Drop In Life Expectancy Linked To Drug Cartel Violence

MEXICO CITY — Crime in Mexico related to gangs and drug cartels is believed to have shortened the lifespan of the country's residents, according to a new study.

The National Police report has found that life expectancy fell by one to six months in the five-year period beginning in 2005, as a veritable war began between the government and drug traffickers, Milenio newspaper reported this week. The report also found that life expectancy dropped six months to one year in 10 of the country's 32 states that are most affected by gang-related violence.

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Geopolitics
Alidad Vassigh

Mexican Riot Police Training Turns Into A Riot Of Its Own

SAN LUIS POTOSÍ — As Mexican National guardsmen were busy training to learn new methods to limit street violence, they began to, well, fight among themselves.

The National Guard, founded in 2019 as a better-trained, more disciplined gendarmerie corps to fight organized crime, confirmed that videos circulating of the sordid incident were real — and training in San Luis Potosí in northern Mexico, had "gotten out of control," Azteca television and La Jornada newspaper reported this week.

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Sources
Luis Rubio

Post-Trump, Mexico Won't Rush To Reconcile With Washington

Mexican President López Obrador has made it clear that he prefers keeping the United States at arm's length.

-OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — When divorce is not an option, the parties must get on as best they can. That's the logic that Mexico and the United States have long followed over their shared border. And it isn't, as a quick look around the globe reminds us, the worst of arrangements.

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WHAT THE WORLD
Alidad Vassigh

Montachoques Extorsion: Accidents Waiting To Happen In Mexico City

For drivers in Mexico, the rule of thumb for traffic accidents is simple: el que pega, paga! In other words, the perpetrator of a crash — i.e. the incoming vehicle — pays.

In a country where many are uninsured, that kind of unspoken understanding makes sense. But the pega-paga approach has also created an opportunity for scammers to pocket some ill-gained pesos through a practice known as montachoques, the operative word being choque, Spanish for "crash."

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Sources
Luis Rubio

AMLO-19: Why The Pandemic Has Hit Mexico Harder

Faced with an unprecedented health crisis, the López-Obrador administration has proven itself to be incompetent, overpoliticized and self-involved.

-OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — Beijing, in 1980, was little more than a town, though with some grand avenues leading to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, the city's political heart. Bicycles circulated intermittently. They were the average vehicle used to transport people and a range of goods. The city's neighborhoods, in varying states of deterioration, sprawled outwards from these ceremonial centers.

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Sources
Luis Rubio

What Mexico Can Learn From Trump's Desperate Last Stand

Mexico's current leader, and loud-and-proud leftist, has more in common with the outgoing U.S. president, a conservative Republican, than many people realize.

-OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — Conflict is essential to politics, and politics, in turn, provide a means for facing, administering and processing that conflict. Societies thus differ fundamentally not in whether they have conflicts, but in how they resolve them.

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Coronavirus
Samantha Montiel

China To Mexico, COVID-19 Exposes Violence Against Women

People are dying, economies are tanking and politics are awry. But that's no excuse to short-shrift the struggle for equality and protections for women.

-Analysis-

PUEBLA — From politicians to activists to the news media, everyone, it seems, has something to say about the impact of the coronavirus and the subsequent lockdowns — mostly in terms of health care and the economy. But there are also social effects to consider, along with a pending question: What happens to gender policies in a pandemic?

Since the #MeToo movement of 2017, feminist movements worldwide have intensified their contacts as they share similar priorities of assuring justice, equality and security for women regardless of geography. But the quarantine that governments across the globe imposed to curb the pandemic have dramatically downgraded the living conditions of many women, especially in Latin America.

The vulnerability of women is reflected in the daily situations they encounter, both at home and in public spaces, and that are more prone to violence and therefore less safe.

What happens to gender policies in a pandemic?

While staying at home is one of the measures needed to mitigate contagion, most countries have not given due consideration to its consequences, which include increased marital violence and the defenselessness of women against their aggressors. World Health Organization (WHO) figures from May 7, 2020 showed that among WHO members, there was a 60% increase in emergency calls from women reporting violence by partners or by people with whom they were confined.

Experts warn that continued confinement could yield around 31 million incidents of domestic violence. In most cases, this is invisible and does not appear in the official count, which makes it difficult to act to help victims.

China and Mexico are two countries where domestic violence levels have risen with confinement. In China, feminist groups and activists have been working on particular strategies to help victims. One group, Free Chinese Feminists, has launched online campaigns and courses meant for women facing violence at home. With slogans like "Fight the virus, not your family," it seeks to foment a culture of prevention and reporting in China.

A Women's Day protest in Mexico — Photo: El Universal/ZUMA

The Yuanzhong organization has in turn created a manual with steps to take to receive legal assistance for a divorce and phone numbers to call for immediate, cost-free psychological support. The country's oldest feminist group, All China Women's Federation, founded in March 1949 and official in nature, is in turn contemplating creating a database of people with histories of violence or abuse against women.

Beyond government and civil strategies, China's strict confinement measures — with entire cities closed down and a ban on leaving home for millions — had the effect of greatly impeding attention to isolated people and weakening the networks protecting those wanting to report abuses.

Domestic violence has also increased in Mexico, which already had an established and pervasive ocurrence of femicides. In spite of the existing Law for Women's Access to a Life Free of Violence, many victims have regrettably never enjoyed its protection.

In Mexico, domestic violence and murders of women complement a steady rise in criminal attacks and disappearances of women, and a range of systemic complications. Early in 2019 the government suspended payments to aid women's shelters across the country and is now threatening to end federal subsidies for another government initiative, the Gender Violence Alarm, in seven states.

Confinement could yield around 31 million incidents of domestic violence.

The pandemic situation is not only doing harm now; it's is also pushing back various socio-political advances made in favor of gender rights. While the fourth feminist wave and its various movements have made considerable progress in recent years, no country has yet to attain substantial gender equality.

The cases of Mexico and China show that the gender agenda cannot be put aside in a pandemic. Women need to strengthen their ties and protective networks and remain present in the formulation and implementation of public, gender policies, but also act to ensure that governments are following through on the commitments they already made.

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Geopolitics
Luis Rubio

The AMLO Brand Of Populism Puts Mexico's Future At Risk

Mexico's socialist president is fanning class resentments and threatening Mexico's fragile social peace, while delivering little of the welfare he promised in 2018.

MEXICO CITY — Resentment, especially of the poor toward the rich, is nothing new. Nor is there any novelty in politicians exploiting grievances, both real and imagined. Isocrates, a great orator of the 4th century BC, deplored hostility but recognized it as a typical emotion in democracy. Jeremy Engels, author of The Politics of Resentment, notes that while citizens aired their own views in the "direct" democracy of a Greek city state, today their grievances are handled by politicians. As a tool for governing, however, the political use of public demands has both limits and risks.

The ancient Greeks saw democracy as a fraternity aimed at preventing tyranny, though their ideas barely influenced the 18th century Federalists who molded the U.S. political system. They were determined to avoid the tyranny not of a citizen but of the majority: A democracy, they believed, must protect minorities. Their particular concern was to keep the violent mob in check.

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Economy
Luis Rubio

PEMEX And The President: AMLO Must Take On Mexico's Oil Giant

If the López Obrador government really wants to restore the state oil firm's status as a cash cow, it needs to stop treating it like a sacred cow.

-Analysis-

MEXICO CITY — Whether Mexico's oil resources are a blessing or, as the poet López Velarde opined, a curse, is an open question. What is clear is that PEMEX, our national oil company, is a dead weight that is sinking public finances and with them, the country.

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