By RICARDO CASTILLO
March for Truth, Justice and Peace
The several thousand participants in the so-called March for Truth, Justice and Peace on Sunday, Jan. 26, were demanding that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) government come up with a strategy to put an end to the apparently endless and seemingly eternal rising number of murders that Mexico is confronting on a daily basis, which, for 2019, amounted to 34,582 deaths, the highest figure in recent history.
This particular march began on Thursday, Jan. 23, in Cuernavaca, Morelos, and the marchers arrived in Mexico City on the night of Saturday, Jan 25,, where many of them slept at the Stele of Light peace monument at Chapultepec Park.
The problem the government faces is that the killings, mostly among organized criminal gangs, is nothing new in Mexico. Past administrations have confronted the problem as well, apparently to no avail.
When a hundred bandits are eliminated by opposing foes – not the government – two more hundred seem to arise either our of need or of criminal vocation.
This particular march is the second one organized by poet Javier Sicilia and pecan farmer Julián LeBarón, both parents and/or relatives victims of criminal gangs.
They continue to demand a solution to the violence, and even claim to have one, which they handed over Sunday at the National Palace to Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero, in representation of AMLO, who was not at home at the time.
At the same time, the Sunday morning papers were full of new killings, not over the year, but over the past weekend.
In the state of Guanajuato alone, 19 persons were executed between Friday and Saturday, with more in several other states.
These are not plain criminal killings. They are almost always carried out by gunmen who walk into a restaurant and execute targeted individuals, apparent members of other gangs who would had done the same unto them.
“We’re all brothers,” said LeBarón. “Let’s unite so that our families do not continue getting killed.”
Like previous demonstrations for peace – over the past 25 years, from President Ernesto Zedillo through AMLO – this one, too, will be paid attention to, even if it seems that what the plaintiffs are hoping for is pure – again – wishful thinking.
Morena’s Failed Congress
In what was described as “a poisoned environment,” the ruling National Regeneration Movement (Morena) held its sixth, but highly divided, “congress” over the weekend.
During the congress, Morena was supposed to decide whether to keep its current national leader, Yeidckol Polevnsky, at the helm or replace her with an interim leader to carry out a leadership renewal.
For her part, Polevnsky opted to not attend the gathering, which was organized by her opposing candidate, Bertha Luján, as part of a power struggle for the leadership of the political party that brought AMLO to power.
In a controversial move, Alfonso Ramírez Cuéllar was elected head of the national party.
Meanwhile, AMLO — though still a member of Morena — has decided to remain aloof from internal party politicking, such as this congress, but has called on Morena members to sort out their differences.
Still, No Confirmed Coronavirus Cases
Three cases of hospitalized patients at a hospital in Tepatitlán, Jalisco, who had been thought to be infected with the new coronavirus were found to only have common colds, according to Jalisco Health Secretary Fernando Petersen.
The three patients were fully tested by both state and federal authorities, who are on full time on alert.
This represents the second week in a row that health authorities have discarded an presence of the deadly virus in Mexico.
Notwithstanding, the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread rapidly, with more than 2,000 confirmed cases worldwide.
Also, World Health Organization (WHO) officials are warning that the disease can be transmitted even before symptoms are present.
AMLO’s Youth Training Program
Over the weekend, AMLO was in the Saltillo-Monterrey industrial corridor, making an evaluation of the implementation of a learn-while-working program that now boasts the participation of over a million high school-age teens.
Through the program, the teenagers are permitted to learn skilled jobs in factories via the program, which is funded and supervised by the federal government.
The program is called Youths Building the Future.
“Before these young people were called ‘ninis’ because they neither worked or went to school,” AMLO said.
“They were seen as a joke. But we decided to take them seriously and carry out this program, and not turn our back on them.”
AMLO was speaking to several hundred scholarship holders in Saltillo, while announcing that their monthly wage had been increased from 3,350 pesos to 3,600 pesos, the new minimum wage.
Maya Train Project
Mexican Federal Tourism Promotion Foundation (Fonatur) President Rogelio Jiménez Pons announced on Saturday, Jan. 25, that the bidding for different projects in the construction of the Yucatan Peninsula Tren Maya (Maya Train) – both for tourism and cargo – will be launched on Feb. 7.
Jiménez Pons explained that the projects include the railroad construction and the revamping of the old track along 951 kilometers leading from Palenque, in the state of Chiapas, to Cancun, Quintana Roo.
He added that 85 construction companies, 65 national and 20 international, will be bidding for the contracts.
The nations of origin of the foreign companies are Spain, Canada, Portugal, Brazil and China.
Construction is expected to kick off on April 30.
Sports: Fencing Star Elopes
Former Mexican Olympic fencing star Paola Pliego was declared the winner in a suit against the National Sports Committee (Conade) and has been awarded 15 million pesos as indemnity.
Pliego filed suit because she had been charged with doping and impeded by Conade laboratories from attending the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Sore, disgruntled and falsely charged, Pliego decided to change nationalities and became a citizen of Uzbekistan, a nation for which she in now fencing in hopes of getting a ticket to Tokyo for the 2020 games.
“Regardless of my efforts and results, I was the victim of corruption within our sports leaders, who disqualified me for personal interests,” she wrote in her Twitter account.
Piego specifically complained about the Conade president, the former police chief for President Peña Nieto in the State of Mexico, Alfredo Castillo, who she accused of looking the other way when she was charged with doping.
Pliego had already qualified for the Olympics.
So she decided to elope, and was welcomed with open arms by Uzbekistan Olympic authorities.