What's Going On In This Country?

July 24, 2017

English speakers wanted Mexico’s department of education (SEP) announced a $44.5 million USD “National English Strategy” with the goal of making all high school graduates proficient in English within 20 years.

The first step in this plan is to recruit 1,020 English teachers to staff Mexico’s teacher training schools (which, for some reason, are called normal schools here) and train the 127 teachers already at the schools.

It’s required that these teachers must speak English, which seems like a given, until you hear that studies have found that many teachers who are teaching English have limited English-speaking skills. It’s the blind leading the blind!

Mexico’s Education Secretary said this new English strategy will be a large process, given that Mexico’s public education system is one of the five largest in the world, with 34 million students enrolled.

Speaking of the education system… A video made by 5th grade students in Chiapas, one of Mexico’s most southern states, bordering Guatemala, has gone viral. Students in the video are pleading with the federal education secretary and the state governor for better resources and school conditions.

In the video, the students say they’re tired of broken chairs, incomplete, out-of-date textbooks and makeshift classrooms (at least one of which leaks when it rains).

“We demand that authorities fulfill their duties so that we can continue with our studies as we are the democratic future of our people,” one student said in the video.

The school principal said there are currently 300 students enrolled, where parents have had to contribute financially to build some classrooms and purchase vital learning materials including whiteboards (which is not uncommon in Mexico).

Despite the school’s shortcomings, the principal says that students had still achieved academic success, including winning first place in an educational “Olympics” competition.

There’s no word on whether the education secretary or the governor had responded to the video. We’re going to go ahead and say they’ll be ignoring that one.

System is “procedural hell” One year after Mexico’s new criminal justice system went into effect, National Security Commissioner Renato Sales says it has descended into a “procedural hell” that has led to an increase in crime. Well, that’s just great.

Sales alleges that training in the new system was not uniform, noting that police were the last to be trained in the new system despite being the first to have to respond to crime. He says the system needs “essential adjustments,” in order to be fixed.

He loses us, however, with his suggestions as to what these adjustments should be. One of his ideas is introducing automatic preventative custody for people found in possession of firearms, particularly military-style weapons like AK-47s.

The new justice system stipulates that accused individuals cannot be held in preventative prison for more than two years, but Sales questioned why people who are arrested (for any offense) are not promptly charged when they are discovered with firearms, saying it’s obvious what they intend to use the guns for.

“What more evidence from the prosecutor can the judge need if a person was arrested in possession of that kind of weapon. They say that it infringes on the presumption of innocence. There are no absolute rights,” he said. “These weapons will not be used for hunting rabbits to be mounted on library walls.”

Well, he’s right about the rabbit-hunting part, but we can’t condone arresting someone for a crime before the crime has been committed.

Mexico’s cops keep failing Almost two-thirds of police officers in Mexico were unable to demonstrate in a performance review that they are properly qualified, or have the required competencies to protect the public, according to a report by the Federal Auditor’s Office (ASF).

The report was aimed at addressing problems associated with the lack of training in police forces and the application of trustworthiness tests. The ASF evaluated 99% of officers on active duty, and found that while 87% had passed integrity tests, only 34.9% provided information regarding their training.

As a result, the ASF said, “it was not possible to validate the competencies of the remaining 65.1% to carry out their duties in order to protect the public.”

Hmmm. Not proving that you’re competent is different than actually failing a competency test, so we can’t be certain that these guys don’t know what they’re doing. Let’s hope they had all the training they needed but just forget to fill out the paperwork needed for the ASF’s survey.

In 2016, more than $21.5 million USD was designated for training and evaluation programs for police officers, in an effort to strengthen public security institutions and improve security.

The ASF report showed that training goals were exceeded by more than 15% in 2016. A total of 117,237 officers from all 32 states received initial, ongoing or command training in 948 different courses.

So that’s where the money is going Mexico’s federal agricultural department (Sagarpa) paid out more than $2.6 million USD last year in farm subsidies to ineligible beneficiaries, including people who had died and civil servants, according to another report from the ASF.

Payments were paid to people who had passed away before the money was authorized, along with 174 civil servants who were not entitled to the subsidies.

Documents also indicated that just over 25,000 beneficiaries who had received aid totaling almost $4.5 million had failed to show that the money they received had been used for agricultural purposes.

This latest finding by the ASF is not the first time that it has uncovered irregularities in the secretariat’s finances. In 2013, the then-agriculture secretary announced plans for an overhaul of Sagarpa’s rural aid

And for five consecutive years, the ASF has warned about the possible embezzlement and misuse of public funds by Sagarpa, with duplicate payments and deceased beneficiaries among other irregularities being discovered in 2015.

Sinkhole epidemic hits Mexico It’s not just the rainy season but the sinkhole season. From Tamaulipas to the state of México, Sonora to Oaxaca, the roads are caving in.

The worst of took two lives on the Mexico City-Cuernavaca highway a couple weeks ago. That was preceded by a sinkhole, which was noteworthy for its size and the fact that it swallowed a Veracruz transit bus. And just last week, another sink hole took out a concrete truck.

Poor construction, lack of resources, heavy rain and corruption are among the causes blamed for the “outbreak” of gaping holes in the roads, which are causing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage.