TIME Mexico

The Rise of Donald Trump Sparks Anger and Laughter in Mexico

Mexicans don't know whether to fear or ignore Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric

When Donald Trump launched his presidential bid in June by calling Mexican migrants “rapists,” artisan Dalton Avalos made what was likely the first piñata of the white haired red-faced tycoon. From his family workshop in the border city of Reynosa, the 28-year old added thick layers of papier-mache so the piñata, a hollow figure that is traditionally hung at fiestas, could be whacked especially hard.

Photos of the Trump piñata rapidly became a media sensation, and copies were made across Mexico and in many migrant communities in the United States. They show how many here are angry at Trump for his discourse, but also see him as a joke. “We like to laugh at people like him and the nonsense that comes out of his mouth,” Avalos says.

Such a mix of indignation and mirth characterizes the reaction to Trump’s rise by many in Mexico, who take offense at his comments on immigrants but don’t believe he is a serious contender. This attitude has largely continued despite Trump’s surge at the polls, such as this week’s CNN/ORC survey finding him 6 points behind Hillary Clinton as a preference for president. Trump’s opinion have filled Mexican news shows, making him a well-known figure south of the Rio Grande. But many here think someone with views that seem to them to be offensive and unrealistic could never be the president of their powerful northern neighbor.

“Donald Trump is loco (mad),” says Angelica Cortes, a 37-year old architect coming out of an office block in a middle class Mexico City neighborhood. “The people of the United States would never put him in charge. What he says makes me indignant. He attacks people who are just trying to make a living, to feed their families.”

Even migrant activists, who represent the community most threatened by Trump’s proposed policies, refuse to believe that Trump is a credible challenge. “His ideas are so ridiculous that they could never happen,” says activist Jorge Mujica, who is originally from Mexico City but now lives in Chicago and is part of the Mexican American Coalition. In a policy paper released Sunday, Trump proposed ending birth right citizenship and seizing money sent by migrants from the United States to Mexico among other measures. He has also called for Mexico to pay for an extended wall on the southern border. “Trump doesn’t seem to realize that these things are politically impossible,” Mujica says. “Rather than making you cry, it makes you laugh.”

However, some Mexican academics are beginning to take the ascent of “The Donald” more seriously in light of the recent polls. “A month ago, I thought that Trump had absolutely no chance. But now I’m not totally sure. Americans can vote in weird ways,” says Jorge Chabat at Mexico City’s Center for Research and Teaching in Economics. Nevertheless, he thinks even a Trump presidency could not alter the Mexico-U.S. relationship that drastically. “Presidents are not gods. Trump could attack Mexico verbally but that would not change the enormous amount of cross-border trade or the entrenched cooperation between the security services.”

There have been various tense moments between the United States and Mexico in recent decades. In 1969, President Richard Nixon virtually shut down the U.S. southern border for 10 days to pressure Mexico over marijuana production. In 1985, the Reagan administration expressed fury over the murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena in Mexico. In 2011, President Felipe Calderon lashed out at U.S. ambassador Carlos Pascual over diplomatic cables exposed by Wikileaks, leading to Pascual’s resignation. But throughout these eras, trade has steadily increased. Mexico is now the United States’ third biggest trading partner after Canada and China, with $506 billion in cross-border trade last year. About 11 million Mexicans are estimated to live in the United States, about half without papers.

Since Trump launched his campaign, various Mexican businesses have boycotted him. Most notably, telecoms magnate Carlos Slim, the second richest man on the planet, canceled some media projects with the presidential hopeful. “Working with someone so closed-minded was not going to work,” says Slim’s spokesman and son-in-law Arturo Elias. The U.S. based Spanish language network Univision had also announced it would no longer air Trump’s Miss Universe pageant because of his comments.

The Mexican government has issued various rebuttals to Trump’s discourse. On Wednesday, the Foreign Relations Department issued a statement calling his proposals racist. “We maintain our position that these comments (by Trump) reflect prejudice, racism and total ignorance.” On Thursday, the Department also condemned an attack on a Mexican man in Boston, in which the assailants reportedly told police that they were inspired by Trump. “Mexico strongly condemns these acts and makes a call that the contributions of the migrant community to the economy, society, values and culture of the United States are recognized.”

Mujica, the migrant activist, argues that the Mexican government should adopt an even tougher line on Trump, and asks why President Enrique Pena Nieto himself has not waded into the debate. “If your people are getting verbal abuse then you should defend them,” Mujica says. However, others says it is better not to rise to the bait. Gloria Trevi, a Mexican pop diva on a current U.S tour, said it is best to smile in the face of ignorance.“Latinos should react with class, not react in the same way as we are being provoked. We are greater than that. We have helped this country to be as big as it is in this moment,” Trevi said at a press conference in Los Angeles. “I think that with a smile on our face and with love is how we should respond to any attack and show the greatness of Latinos.”


Mexican Authorities Discover 63 Children Working in Terrible Conditons

The children, ages 8 to 17, were reportedly working 15 hour days

Mexican authorities have discovered 63 children toiling under horrible conditions at a vegetable packing company.

Dozens of children were found working for about 100 pesos, or $6, per day with only a half day off per week, the Associated Press reports. The children were living on mats only steps from where they are suspected to have worked 15 hour days. The ages of the children ranged from eight to 17.

Authorities have moved the children and some adults found working with them to a shelter. Their conditions were reportedly discovered when the father of a young girl attempted to pick up his daughter from the company but was prevented from doing so because she hadn’t completed her tasks.

Mexican law allows for children between 14 and 16 to work, although generally not in agriculture. However, the AP reports child labor is common in the country.

[Associated Press]

TIME Mexico

Gunmen Slay a Journalist, a Gang Leader and Four Others in a Mexico Bar

Two other reporters escaped unharmed

(MEXICO CITY) — Five gunmen burst into a bar early Thursday and killed a reputed drug gang boss, a reporter and four other people in Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Veracruz, authorities said.

The Veracruz state prosecutors’ office said the gunmen entered the bar and went directly for the victims, who included the local boss of the Zetas drug gang, identified as Jose Marquez Balderas. It said reporter Juan Santos Carrera was among those sitting with him.

Two other reporters in the bar were not shot, but were fired by their newspaper for being at the scene with the local cartel boss.

Police chased the assailants, and two officers were wounded in an ensuing exchange of gunfire in the streets of the city of Orizaba, but there were no immediate arrests. The prosecutor’s office said some of the victims had weapons with them.

Veracruz state now has seen 14 journalists killed since Gov. Javier Duarte took office in 2010 and three more have gone missing, drawing criticism from press freedom advocates. But the Televisa network, for which Santos Carrera worked, said he resigned two months ago and Flavino Rios, the state’s interior secretary, said the attack “had nothing to do with the reporter’s journalistic work.”

Rios blamed the shootout on two small bands of “ex-Zetas” that he said are fighting for control of Orizaba, an industrial city known for beer brewing.

He said the two other reporters at the bar told authorities that Santos Carrera was the go-between who distributed Zetas money to other journalists. It was not clear if they were receiving money, he said.

The Associated Press could not immediately locate relatives of Santos Carrera to seek comment on Rios’ claim about the dead journalist.

Prosecutors said the two other reporters were not targeted in the attack but had been put under government protection.

Jose Abella Garcia, the owner of the newspaper where they worked, El Buen Tono, said the two reporters had been dismissed for being at the bar with a gang leader.

“They have been fired. They are being given protection and are under investigation; they will have to explain what they were doing there at that table with the gang boss,” Abella Garcia said.

Abella Garcia said that while his former reporters had not been shot at during the attack, at least one of the assailants returned after the shootings and hit one of them with a bottle, before fleeing again.

Violence and corruption have been a recurring problem for journalists in Veracruz, a state riven by crime and turf battle between drug gangs.

“We have fired a lot of reporters in this kind of case,” Abella Garcia said. “From what I see, it’s hard for the reporters because they are in the street and the Zetas pick them up and tell them, ‘You’re going to report to me, and I’ll tell you what stories can run and what can’t. We’ll approve some and here’s some money,'” Abella Garcia said. “They give them money to keep them happy. Then they kill them.”

The most recent instance of violence involving a journalist came last month, when photographer Ruben Espinosa was killed at a Mexico City apartment along with four women. He had fled Veracruz earlier in July after being harassed after taking photos of bloodied students who had been attacked by masked men, though Mexico City prosecutors have not established that he was the main target of the attackers.

TIME Mexico

The Mexican Activist Who Led the Search for Missing Students Has Been Killed

Miguel Angel Jimenez, leader of the community police of Guerrero State (UPOEG), speaks with a federal police on a boat as they seek for the 43 Ayotzinapa students' missing, in Acatlan, in the southwestern state of Guerrero
Henry Romero—Reuters Miguel Angel Jimenez (in red), leader of the community police of Guerrero State (UPOEG), speaks with a federal police on a boat as they seek for the 43 Ayotzinapa students' missing, in Acatlan, Guerrero, on October 30, 2014.

It remains unclear who is responsible

A Mexican activist who led the search for the 43 students presumably kidnapped and murdered last September was found dead in his taxicab near his home on Saturday night.

Police officers discovered the body of Miguel Angel Jimenez Blanco, 45, riddled with bullet holes in the cab’s driver’s seat, just outside his hometown of Xaltianguis in the southern state of Guerrero. Authorities are treating the case as a homicide, El Universal, a Mexico City–based newspaper, reports. It remains unclear who is responsible.

Xaltianguis is a two-and-a-half-hour drive south of the larger city of Iguala, where 11 months ago 43 students disappeared while in town to stage a political protest. The disappearance stoked national outrage against what many Mexicans see as endemic corruption.

Jimenez, a vocal critic of Mexican politics, organized a search-party group last autumn. As he and his team scoured the hills near Iguala for the missing students, they stumbled upon a number of mass graves, confirming what many residents of southern Mexico had suspected — that if the students were murdered, then they were simply the tip of the iceberg.

“We have been saying from the start that this area is a cemetery,” Jimenez told the BBC in an interview before his death.

TIME Mexico

The U.S. Is Offering $5 Million for Information on Mexican Drug Lord El Chapo’s Location

The reward is being offered by the State Department

(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. government on Wednesday announced a $5 million reward for information leading to the recapture of one of the world’s most wanted drug kingpins, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman of Mexico.

The reward is being offered by the State Department while the Drug Enforcement Administration has set up a tip line for information about Guzman, who escaped from one of Mexico’s most secure prisons last month via a sophisticated mile-long tunnel that opened up in his cell’s shower. The tip line is being managed by the DEA’s San Diego field office.

The acting head of the DEA, Chuck Rosenberg, said he believes Guzman is in Mexico, probably hiding in his home state of Sinaloa, Mexico. But Rosenberg acknowledged that the elusive Guzman could be anywhere.

“I think he is still in Mexico,” Rosenberg said in a meeting with reporters. “Do I know that? No. It’s an educated guess.”

Guzman has twice been captured and twice escaped. He was first jailed after being extradited from Guatemala in 1993 and escaped from a maximum security prison in 2001. Thirteen years later he was arrested again in the seaside resort town of Mazatlan and escaped again about 16 months later.

Mexican authorities have announced a $3.8 million reward for Guzman, who is believed to have a net worth of about $1 billion.

Rosenberg said the DEA and U.S. authorities continue to work with their Mexican counterparts on the search for Guzman.

TIME Mexico

Advocates Fear Further Impunity After Death of Mexican Photojournalist

Some 90% of journalist murders in Mexico since 1992 have gone unpunished

(MEXICO CITY) — With an investigation barely underway, Mexican journalist protection groups are already expressing fears that authorities won’t consider the brutal killing of a photojournalist as being related to his work — even though he fled the state he covered fearing for his safety.

Mexico City officials said Sunday they are pursuing all lines of investigation in the death of Ruben Espinosa, whose tortured body was found along with four slain women in an apartment in Mexico’s capital. Prosecutor Rodolfo Rios Garza said authorities were following protocols for crimes against journalists and crimes against women, as well as looking at robbery as a possible motive in the case.

But when dealing with journalists’ killings, authorities in Mexico historically have been quick to discard their work as a motive, even though the country is the most dangerous in Latin America for reporters. Some 90 percent of journalist murders in Mexico since 1992 have gone unpunished, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“What’s particularly pernicious is that violence against the press is violence against society,” said Dario Ramirez, director of the Article 19 free press advocacy group. “There are many places in the country where silence paves the road so that organized crime, corruption, everything that destroys a society can continue in a manner without … setbacks or obstacles.”

Espinosa fled Xalapa, the capital of the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, for Mexico City in June after he said that unknown people were following him, taking his photograph and harassing him outside his home. Veracruz has been a dangerous state for reporters, with 11 journalists killed just in current administration of Gov. Javier Duarte that started in 2010. Two more, including Espinosa, have been killed outside of the state and three have gone missing.

Fears that Espinosa’s death could end in impunity were fueled by Sunday’s news conference by Rios, when Mexico City’s prosecutor never acknowledged that Espinosa was seeking refuge in Mexico’s capital, saying he came to the city for “professional opportunities.” The comment led to shouts and protests from reporters, who asked if the events that drove Espinosa into self-exile in June were being investigated. He had been working for investigative newsmagazine Proceso and other media outlets.

Rios only repeated that all lines of investigation were being pursued, including his work as a journalist.

Espinosa had said in interviews that he was harassed over several years while covering events in Veracruz, including once being told to stop taking photos of students detained during a protest in 2012, the same year another Proceso journalist, Regina Martinez, was killed. Her role reporting on government corruption was never considered as a motive for her killing. Instead, officials in Veracruz said it was robbery.

“Stop taking photos if you don’t want to end up like Regina,” Espinosa said he was told by a government representative controlling the crowd.

A few days before fleeing, he had placed a plaque at a Xalapa plaza renaming it “Regina Martinez Plaza” as a protest to the government’s handling of her case.

“We’re saying loud and clear that we want Duarte in jail, that no more journalists, not a single one, can be assassinated in Veracruz,” said Neftali Granados, a Veracruz student speaking at a protest rally in Mexico City that drew about 200 people.

Duarte issued a statement Sunday saying he lamented the “aberrant” killings in Mexico City and is confident that prosecutors will solve the case as soon as possible.

In June, he accused some reporters of being involved in organized crime.

“We all know who is involved in the underworld,” Duarte said. “There’s no reason to confuse freedom of expression with representing the expression of criminals via the media.”

The five bodies were found late Friday in a middle-class Mexico City neighborhood. The building was in range of several security cameras on the street and Rios said they have video evidence in the crime, though he did not elaborate. The attackers would have had to go through two doors to get inside, and neither had signs of damage or break in.

Rios also said the apartment was ransacked and robbed. Three of the women lived there and a fourth was the housekeeper.

Rios did not identify the other victims, only giving their ages as 18, 29, 32 and 40. All were shot in the head with a 9 mm weapon. Espinosa sustained severe injuries to his face before he was killed, Ramirez said.

Ramirez said Espinosa knew one of the women from working in Veracruz.

It was the first time a journalist was killed in Mexico City since 2006, when Jose Manuel Nava Sanchez, a columnist for El Sol de Mexico, was found stabbed to death in his apartment with valuables missing, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Article 19 said Espinosa’s death marks a new milestone in violence against the press because he was the first journalist to be killed in exile in the capital. The agency said in the last five years it has helped about 70 journalists under threat find refuge in the capital.

“The level of impunity is what allowed this to happen,” said a journalist in Mexico City who also had to flee Veracruz. “Displaced journalists used to come to Mexico City as an island of protection. Now there is no place to go, no place to run.”

The journalist did not want to be named for security reasons.

TIME Infectious Disease

There Might Be Poop on Your Cilantro

Education Images—UIG/Getty Images

The FDA has banned some Mexican imports

Guacamole fans, beware: the FDA has banned the import of some fresh cilantro from Mexico after evidence showed the crop could be tainted with human feces.

Several farms in Puebla were linked to outbreaks of stomach illness in 2013 and 2014 in the U.S., the Associated Press reports. The FDA believes they may also have caused more recent outbreaks due to the presence of the cyclospora parasite.

Investigators found that some farms had no toilets for employees, and discovered feces and toilet paper in the fields. The resulting ban will impact shipments from April through August in the coming years unless farms in the region can show that conditions have improved.

TIME Donald Trump

You Can Now Buy Your Very Own Donald Trump Baseball Hat

Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Tours U.S. Border In Texas
Matthew Busch—Getty Images Donald Trump in his baseball hat.

They’re available in red, white, and blue

Donald Trump is making waves again. This time, it’s because of a baseball hat he’s selling.

The Republican presidential contender, who currently sits atop the polls, made a speech in Texas recently, and hiding his signature, wispy hair (which has been lampooned by The Simpsons) was a white baseball cap emblazoned with his campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again.” Naturally, the Internet went crazy and social media lit up with memes of presidential proportions.

Business Insider reported that, yes, the cap will be sold to the public. They’re on sale currently at Trump Tower in Manhattan and a person from his camp confirmed the items are “coming soon to DonaldJTrump.com,” according to the site. The aide also told Business Insider that the caps are “made in the USA.”

The hats cost $20 and are reportedly available in red, white, and blue.

For more about Trump, here’s what winners of his reality television show The Apprentice said about his leadership qualities.

Earlier this month, Trump announced that he enjoys a net worth of over $10 billion.

And if the hats don’t sell well? They can join the Donald’s list of failed ventures.

TIME Mexico

Mexican Prison Chief, 6 Others Arrested For El Chapo Prison Break

"El Chapo" has still not been found.

Mexican authorities arrested seven people on Wednesday in connection with the escape of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Among the arrested is Librado Carmona Garcia, the head of the maximum security prison Guzman had been housed in, according to RT.

Guzman, who was deemed “the most powerful drug lord in the world,” made headlines for his daring escape on July 13 through a one-mile long lit and ventilated tunnel that some have estimated to cost millions.

The cooperation of prison authorities was long suspected, with Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, Mexico’s interior minister, saying, “Guzman must have counted on the complicity of prison personnel, which … would constitute an act of treason.”

The Mexican government has announced it is offering a 60 million peso ($3.8 million) reward for Guzman’s recapture. Guzman had previously escaped in 2001 using a laundry cart from a maximum-security prison in Jalisco.

TIME Mexico

See the Path El Chapo Used to Get Out of Prison

The Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman escaped a high-security prison on July 11 via a mile-long tunnel from his shower to a nearby field. Here's the route he took

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