What's Going On In This Country?

May 29, 2017 Edition
BY: SANTIAGO VERDUGO

More deportees, fewer criminals A Mexican Foreign Affairs Undersecretary says that while the number of illegal immigrants being deported by the United States remains low, things could change. He also noted a change in the kind of people who are being sent back to Mexico.

Rather than fewer deportations, there has been a shift in the deportees’ profiles. Instead of Mexicans caught trying to cross the border, the U.S. is sending back people who aren’t dangerous, have families and work. You know, normal people, not criminals and drug dealers.

DREAMers (undocumented immigrants aged under 31) have also been deported, which had never happened before Donald Trump took office.

According to Mexico’s Immigration Institute (INM), 50,000 Mexicans have been repatriated from the United States so far this year. The highest number ever recorded was 600,000 in 2010.

Teachers protest May 15 was Teacher’s Day in Mexico, but instead of celebrating, many teachers spent the day protesting.

There were marches in at least nine cities, with teachers demanding that talks about the long-hated education reforms start again with the federal government. An estimated 4,000 people protested in Mexico City.

The yearly march marks a renewal of the teachers’ protests, whose purpose is to call for the repeal of the 2013 education reforms and the reinstatement of teachers fired after they refused to be evaluated or after missing classes to go on strike.

Uber drivers and taxis clash There’s tension in Mazatlán between Uber drivers and taxi operators. There were at least three confrontations between the two sides, some coming to blows. Uber began in Mazatlán, Los Mochis and Culiacán last October but taxi drivers there, and elsewhere in Mexico, were not happy about it.

According to the state’s deputy director of traffic and transportation, Uber cannot legally provide its services in the state of Sinaloa because only two organizations are authorized and licensed to do so. Uber drivers have been fined as a result. The fine ranges from approximately $80 USD for first-time offenders to more than $1,800 for repeat offenders.

Cab drivers whine that they have to pay for a special license, license plates, insurance and an identification card that certifies their training. Uber drivers only have to pay their affiliation fees.

Mazatlán, which has more than 500,000 people, has 1,490 licensed taxis. It also has 11,900 hotel rooms, so Uber figures there is enough clientele for everyone. But there won’t be any clientele if the two sides can’t figure out a way to play nice with each other.

More beer than Germany Mexico overtook Germany in beer production last year to become the fourth largest brewing country in the world. That sounds like a good reason for a celebratory cerveza!

Beer production increased by just over 8% in 2016, totaling 10.5 billion liters. The main force behind the industry’s growth has been exports, which grew by 13% to 3.2 billion liters, which is directly related to popularity of Mexican brands. Brands like Tecate, Tecate Light, Dos Equis, Estrella, Montejo and Modelo Especial have followed the example set by industry trailblazer Corona years ago, which is now satisfying thirsty people in 180 countries.

The domestic market is also on the rise. Per-capita beer consumption was 57 liters in 2010, but by last year that figure had increased by almost 11%, to 63 liters. That’s more than 16 gallons for every man woman and child. Are you doing your part?

Who’s hungry? Thousands of people lined up for hours in the city of Aguascalientes (which is about 2.5 hours from Guadalajara in the unlikely event you know where Guadalajara is), for what local authorities billed as the most tacos al pastor in the world. No word on whether Guinness was on hand to verify the record, so we went to Guinness’ site. A search turned up 582 records for various tacos al pastor.

Five tons of pork went onto the trompo, or vertical spit, set up at the San Marcos national fair, where locals and tourists chowed down on more than 200,000 tacos, courtesy of the municipal government.

People went through more than 2,200 pounds of tortillas and vast amounts of salsa at the event. Everyone was served four tacos each, which seems a bit stingy if you ask us. We can easily eat twice that amount!

More pipeline mayhem There was a violent clash over on the mainland between federales and gasoline pipeline thieves that killed 10 people in one night.

Four soldiers and six gas thieves died during two confrontations. Army personnel were responding to a report of a pipeline theft in progress but when they arrived at the scene the thieves opened fire, killing two soldiers.

Authorities said later that soldiers were unable to return fire because their attackers had taken cover behind women and children.

The soldiers withdrew but returned later that night when they were fired on once again, this time by gunmen travelling in a convoy of trucks. There were no women or children present this time around and the soldiers fired back. Two more soldiers died in the second clash.

The official version of events is being rejected by some residents, who claim the military opened fire on innocent people who were fleeing a swarm of bees. Bees! Hey, we don’t make this stuff up.

In related news At least eight armed men broke into a vehicle impoundment lot, taking back the trucks they used to steal gas from pipelines.

At almost the same time that police were announcing they were proceeding with charges against two men arrested after being caught in the act, the armed men were in the process of repossessing their trucks.

Soldiers toss in the towel After more than a decade battling ruthless drug cartels, Mexico’s battered army wants a law that would require them to return to their barracks and put the fight back in the hands of the police.

Since this whole drug war fiasco started at the end of 2006, about 150,000 people have died in the violence, including hundreds of soldiers as well as scores of police and members of other security forces. And journalists! Let’s not forget the journalists who gave their lives for their craft.

The bloody struggle has also taken a heavy toll on the reputation of the armed forces, exposing one of Mexico's most respected institutions to the corrupting influence of organized crime and the risk of extrajudicial killings. One commanding officer explained it this way: “We're not going to resolve the problem. It's a problem with more social and economic aspects than we can solve.”