Category Archives: Features

Once prickly, U.S. and Mexico bound by trade

The Atlantic -The grandiose promise of trade is that it binds countries together, breeding peace and cooperation. This is a risible overstatement when applied generally to the world. But in the case of the countries separated by the Rio Grande, it has proved wondrously true. A generation after the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the United States and Mexico couldn’t be more interdependent.

Doggy ice cream has tails wagging in Mexico City

Reuters – Dogs with a sweet tooth can finally satisfy their ice cream cravings – at the Don Paletto parlor in Mexico City. Made of natural yogurt and lactobacilli bacteria, it can help digestion while normal ice cream can cause pain and diarrhea in dogs, according to shop owner Mauricio Montoya, who said the food is also safe for humans.

Oil drillers face angry mob in Tecpatan

Bloomberg – When an angry mob torched City Hall in the southern Mexican town of Tecpatan last month, it sent a warning flare across a country already thrown into turmoil by Donald Trump.

The outrage was over oil, specifically the government’s plan to auction off a swath of land around their farming community to private drillers. The fact that today’s target is the government’s energy policy could spell trouble ahead.

Berliners react to Trump’s U.S.-Mexico wall

Al Jazeera – Germany was split for nearly 50 years, with Berlin and its wall coming to symbolise the division between Eastern and Western Europe. As the new US administration begins to make its plan a reality, some Berliners say that the legacy of their wall, and the suffering it caused, should serve as a powerful reminder as to why walls shouldn’t be built.

Tarahumara are being displaced

Men’s Journal – The Tarahumara, a tribe of northwestern Mexico known for their long-distance running prowess, have been struggling in the face of displacement. A relentless five-year rain shortage has decimated crops, depleted seeds, and stripped the soil’s nutrition. Last year, thousands of people were forced to leave the canyon to job hunt or sell their belongings for corn and beans.

How a Mexican border city is reacting to Trump

Economist -UNLIKE conventional wars, the one that has broken out between Mexico and the United States is not starting on the border. Some 178,000 people still cross over daily from Tijuana to San Diego through the busiest border post between the two countries. But the conflict that Donald Trump has provoked with Mexico is causing unease, even dread in Tijuana, a city of 1.7m people.

Behind fence, Juarez is wary of Trump’s wall

People walk on the international border bridge Paso del Norte to cross to El Paso EEUU from Ciudad Juarez in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico December 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Jose Luis GonzalezReuters – Mexicans overwhelmingly say they oppose the wall U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has promised to build along their northern border. But in Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez, where extensive fencing was erected by the United States to secure the border between 2007 and 2010, residents have a more nuanced view of what a wall can mean. They say the Juarez fence has both caused and relieved problems in the city and nearby areas.

Will next Deepwater Horizon be in Mexico?

NYT – Mexico’s Energy Ministry began auctioning off the crown jewels of its oil reserves, deepwater tracts that, along with those for fracking, are supposed to set off an oil-and-gas rush south of the border. The auctions are a result of a 2013 law that opened the country’s oil and gas industry to private companies, after 75 years of public ownership. What could go wrong?

Plenty, as recent experiences in the United States suggest.

Invite to 15th birthday party attracts 1.2 million acceptances

15th-party-inviteBBC – Police will be deployed to a village in Mexico after an invitation to a girl’s birthday party went viral and 1.2 million people said they would attend. A video in which the girl’s father says that “everyone is welcome” to the party featuring local bands, a meal and a horse race was posted on Facebook on a public setting. He said the idea had been to invite neighbors and friends only. But he has since confirmed he would not turn anyone away.

Mexico: Land of impunity

Al Jazeera – Over the past decade Mexico has been beset by violence, as the state has battled drug cartels and criminal gangs for control of the streets. But critics say this endemic conflict has created a culture of impunity in law enforcement, with even ordinary citizens now routinely subjected to human rights abuses. So what lies behind Mexico’s troubled relationship with justice?

Proposal to ban embryo research would stifle science

Nature – Mexico’s legislature is weighing an amendment to the national health law that would ban experiments with human embryos. The amendment is intended to regulate assisted reproduction, including the payment of surrogate mothers, donations to egg and sperm banks and the fertilization of more than three eggs at a time. But it would also ban the creation of human embryos for any purpose except reproduction and any research with existing human embryos.

Newcomers wait years for water amidst urbanization

Reuters – People started moving to this neighborhood of Santa Maria about 20 years ago to escape higher rents closer to Mexico City, and the pace of new dwellings picked up in the past decade. But families had to wait until 2015 to receive electricity, and running water for everyone is not expected to come until at least the end of next year.

A Mexico resort development saga

NYT – Jeffrey Curtiss’s obsession is a collection of 23 luxury condominiums on a secluded beach in La Paz. For 11 years Curtiss, who made his fortune in the trading and distribution business in Britain, has been building and marketing the project, Playa de La Paz, hoping to attract the type of high-end international home buyers who have traditionally bypassed La Paz. A first-time developer, he pored over every detail of the project and lived on site during construction, only to face the global economic crisis, Mexico’s drugs wars and countless construction delays. “I thought it would be a lot easier,” he said.

The case of Mexico’s disappearing governors

Javier Duarte, the former governor of Veracruz state, went underground last month after being accused of looting billions in taxpayer money. (Marco Ugarte/AP Photo)
Javier Duarte, the former governor of Veracruz state, went underground last month after being accused of looting billions in taxpayer money. (Marco Ugarte/AP Photo)

By Nacha Cattan / Bloomberg

Before Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte went on the lam, there was Eugenio Hernandez, and Tomas Yarrington, and Jorge Torres Lopez, and Mario Villanueva, and, until last week, Guillermo Padres. (There are still others.) All governors at one time, all who took it on the run, trailing corruption charges like clanging cans that fell on deaf ears.

Crooked governors have evaded the law for decades in Mexico, either through agreements struck with presidential administrations or an inability of law enforcement to seize them or their assets, says Mike Vigil, the former head of international operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

“Many governors in Mexico are corrupt,” said Vigil, whose territory included Mexico until his retirement in 2004. ”It’s rare that we can get to these governors because many times they’re protected” by the administration in power. Marko Cortes, lower-house leader of the opposition National Action Party, or PAN, concurred, saying Duarte’s escape “appears as if it was something agreed upon.”

It was supposed to be different this time. Enrique Pena Nieto returned the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, to the presidency in 2012 partly on an anti-corruption platform, yet the scandals continue (including his own).

After Trump’s win, an anxious Mexico asks: What’s next?

A fence separating Mexico and the United States in Tijuana, Mexico. Donald Trump vowed to deport millions of immigrants and build a wall along the entirety of the border. (Jorge Duenes/Reuters)
A fence separating Mexico and the United States in Tijuana, Mexico. Donald Trump vowed to deport millions of immigrants and build a wall along the entirety of the border. (Jorge Duenes/Reuters)

By Azam Ahmed / New York Times

Ever since the election of Donald J. Trump to the American presidency, Juan Pardinas, a Mexican academic, has been thinking back to his childhood.

Specifically, the Cold War era, when his days as a young boy were filled with a medium-grade anxiety that the Russians might incite a nuclear war that could devastate North America.

“It’s the same feeling of uncertainty,” said Pardinas, a graduate of the London School of Economics whose work on anti-corruption legislation has been roundly praised in Mexico. “The feeling that politics has become a source of bitterness, anguish and uncertainty is really sad.”

Clouds have descended over Mexico, miring it in a state of anguish and paralysis after the election of Trump to the highest office in the world. They are clouds of uncertainty and fear, of self-doubt and insecurity. There were even actual storm clouds hanging over the capital in recent days, a literal echo of the nation’s state of mind.

U.S., Mexico soccer fans demonstrate respect

NYT – The restraint shown by the American fans in their pregame tifo was notable within the soccer world — where fans, particularly in Europe and elsewhere, can often be obscene, if not disgraceful, in their behavior en masse — but it was also representative of the unusual feelings around this game, which is the most significant sporting event involving an American national team since Donald Trump became the president-elect.