Category Archives: Safety and Security

August Updates

The topic of COVID-19 has me a bit overwhelmed. So I’ve been avoiding it, well, like the plague. However, to try and unravel the current situation in Guanajuato, I thought I’d take up the gauntlet today. 

Unless you’ve been sheltering under the proverbial bushel basket, you should know Mexico has moved up in the death race. Mexico now has the third-highest death rate from Covid-19, right after Brazil and the U.S. 

To celebrate this grand event, the state of Guanajuato has moved into orange. This means, places like movie theaters, churches, and gyms can reopen, with precautions, of course. The church has disinfecting mist spray entrances, requires face masks, and is limiting occupancy to 125 people to allow for social distancing. The gyms are taking temperatures at the front door. 

These reopenings are going full steam ahead despite the Pan American Health Organization predicting a new peak in new cases in August. In fact, July 31 saw a new high of 8,458 cases that was topped August 1 with 9,556 cases. The accumulated case tally in Mexico is the sixth-highest in the world. 

Mexico City, of course, has the most active cases, followed by Mexico State. Guanajuato is in the third position, followed by Veracruz, Coahuila, San Luis Potosí, and Nuevo León tied for fourth. As if these statistics weren’t alarming enough, it’s important to take into consideration that these numbers are completely inaccurate. There is no widespread testing taking place, so it’s really anyone’s guess on the true count. 

More or less SEP’s plan for back to school

Mexico made the decision a few days ago to not return to classes. Instead, school will be available online, on the television, and through radio broadcasts. As prudent as this seems, there are some economic repercussions. On the 15th of this month, teacher contracts expire. If they will not be teaching for the foreseeable future, will they get paid? Then there are the small businesses that earn their pesos providing school uniforms and school supplies. What will happen to their livelihood? The future seems bleak for these sectors. 

Moroleon, you survived looting, flooding, the devaluation of the peso in 1995, Chinese clothing imports and you will make it through the pandemic.

Coronavirus aside, Guanajuato has also been declared a safer area with the capture of Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel leader “El Marro” this week. Apparently it took all of 15 minutes to make the arrest. Personally, I have some doubts about the whole situation. Perhaps El Marro felt it was safer in police custody for the moment. The cartel-related violence in our town hasn’t diminished with his arrest, that’s for sure. Last week a man was killed at the barbershop, another in the market, and a third in a moto-repair shop. 

So how is this affecting our daily lives? More of the same really. We dash to town as early as possible and pick up our supplies, then hunker down in La Yacata for the rest of the day. More and more groups have also been gathering in our little corner of the world, since gatherings are still prohibited in town. In fact, this weekend, there were so many people sitting around on buckets, that my son felt the need to put on his mask to bring the horses in from the pasture. 

Fortunately, we have plenty to do to keep us busy. I am still writing and teaching to make ends meet. My son continues with his online prepa courses. Our animals entertain us when they can. Plus we have plenty of good movies to watch and unlimited books via kindle. Overall, we are in a much better position than those that tried to avoid the plague in the middle ages. Wouldn’t you agree?

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Filed under Economics, Education, Health, Politics, Safety and Security, Small Business in Mexico

The New Normal

Last month we had quite a few shootings in town. I’m sure there were more, but these are the ones I know about.

A teenager sitting on the curb in front of his house was gunned down not a block from my sister-in-law’s tortilleria. The guy who sells raw chicken whose stand is next to the woman that we buy our raw chicken from was shot 22 times. The chicken lady and the fried fish lady who had stalls on either side packed up their wares that day and haven’t returned.

We had a coordinated attack straight from a bad action film in town a block from where we had gone to buy our vegetables. We missed the action by 15 minutes. A car was set fire near the glorieta (roundabout) on the edge of town. A string of fireworks was set off in the mercado (market). Someone shot the employee of the shoe store on the corner. At the same time, several masked marauders ransacked the jewelry store in front of the presidencia (town hall). The military hummveed into town about an hour later. I have no idea why. The perpetrators were long gone.

Tuesday, the guys that ran the “auto paint shop” were shot. We drive past there every day on the way to town. Then the person running the “auto lavado” (car wash) next to Soriana was shot on Thursday. Both were obviously front businesses. The other shootings were reportedly all drug-related as well. Does that reassure me any? Hell no!

Our area is still in the midst of a turf war that began a while back. Guanajuato, being a center state, is considered an easier passage north than the mountains of Michoacan, although Michoacan has its own issues. 

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), under the leadership of El Mencho, el rey de metanfetamina (meth king), wants clear passage through the state which is currently held by the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, headed by José Antonio “El Marro” Yépez, el rey de huachicol (fuel theft king)

Last week, El Marro’s mother and sister were arrested but released because of “insufficient evidence.” Retaliations for the arrests include a few bombed cars and a bomb attempt at a PEMEX facility. Police tried to rearrest dear old mom a few days later. Three of the four officers attempting the arrest were shot and killed. Odds are the authorities are working with El Mencho to clear the area for takeover. It’s not going to well so far.

It’s enough to stretch already taut nerves to the breaking point. The local police and government are silent about the shootings in town. Their broadcasts focus on wearing a mask in public and using an antibacterial gel. Businesses have been given the green light to open up with precautions. We mustn’t let the economy collapse now, right?

Our personal strategy is to go to town as little as possible. We try to go to the grocery, carniceria, and fruteria stores as soon as they open in the morning. In and out, then back home. The idea, at least in my mind, is any shootings will occur a little later in the day, once the thugs rolled out of bed. This is the new normal in our area where masks and bullet-proof vests are suggested daily wear. 

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Mother’s Day in Mexico in the Time of Coronavirus

mother's day

In Mexico, Mother’s Day is a big ta-doo. There are early morning serenades, flowers, family gatherings, and in the event that a mother has passed on, trips to the cemetery. Moroleon has specifically forbidden these activities this year. 

That doesn’t mean some families didn’t carry on as usual anyway, though it was more clandestine. It’s not like there is any real way the prohibition can be enforced. 

Take for example the fact that the churches have been closed in town. At least one group has moved their services out here to La Yacata. So every Saturday evening we hear some chanting, singing, and even some trumpet blowing from the house at the corner. I think it might be an Episcopalian group. We practice social distancing and reroute our dog walk during services, so I can’t be sure. 

Since parties are a no-go in town, again, family gatherings, including Mother’s Day celebrations,  were moved to La Yacata. The dogs didn’t get their afternoon walk on Sunday because of all the roving children and drunk adults. 

Which brings me to another matter. Moroleon has enacted La Ley Seca (the dry law) which is in force usually only right before an election. All sales of alcohol were prohibited in town beginning May 8 until May 30. Yet, people still found a way to get enough alcohol to get liquored up. 

There is a potential shortage of alcohol looming because the beer manufacturers were declared non-essential and closed in April. The very determined, however, will be able to get pulque which the old women still make in nearby La Barranca. 

no escencial

Moroleon followed the prohibition of alcohol sales and serenades with another one-two punch. All non-essential businesses must close, including the textile factories, on May 11, until the end of the month. Without the textiles, well, Moroleon is in big trouble financially. 

These prohibition and closure dates are based on the premise that the peak contagion for COVID-19 will happen between May 5 and 11. Yet, now, the date has been changed with the latest figures to May 20 although social distancing requirements are supposed to be lifted on May 17 in most of the country and on May 30 for the rest of the states. 

What this means is anyone’s guess. For now, the number of confirmed cases and deaths is still rising in Mexico. Medical personnel is the highest at-risk population. In fact, 42% of the patients in the state of Nayarit are hospital workers, which is worrisome. The actual death toll in the epicenter Mexico City may be much higher than reported. 

And yet, there are still conspiracy theorists even in Mexico. One hospital was stormed by about 300 people in an apparent “rescue” attempt believing the virus to be a government plot to kill people. Medical personnel is still being attacked and murdered as the supposed harbingers of death rather than essential workers. 

With all these shenanigans, Mother’s Day in our home was a quiet affair, no different from any other day. We’ll stay home and ride out the pandemic one day at a time, however long that takes.

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Filed under Cultural Challenges, Health, Mexican Holidays, Safety and Security