Category Archives: Safety and Security

Huachicoleros in Mexico

If you’ve been following the news on the current gas crisis in Mexico, you may have seen the word huachicolero in reference to those that buy and sell illegally obtained gasoline. This is a word that originally referred to people who knocked fruit from trees using a huachicol which is a long-handled instrument with a basket at the end to scoop the fruit in. Huachicol can also refer to watered-down liquor. Thus huachicoleros are those that sell the watered-down liquor. Which brings us back to huachicoleros in the news these days who are dedicated, and I mean dedicated, to obtaining and selling water-down gas. These are the people that AMLO intended to bring down with this change in distribution methods.

Pemex, the government owed petroleum mega-giant, has been losing money hand over fist in recent years. It is estimated that $7.9 billion USD has been lost because of gasoline theft in the last 7 years. AMLO believes previous presidencies have been in colusion with the theft. No surprises there!

So how is so much gas stolen? Well, it’s not nearly as exciting as this scene from the Fast and The Furious.

Long pipelines crisscross the country running under both private and government-owned lands. It isn’t so very hard, although sometimes quite dangerous, to tap a pipeline and build a warehouse around it where trucks can come and go unmolested and is much less difficult than stealing what would amount to 250 20,000-liter tanker trucks each year.

Central Mexico was hit hardest with this new distribution regulation. Large sections of the pipeline run through rural areas in Michoacan and Guanajuato which are not regularly monitored. For example, “everyone” knows there is a pipeline tap in nearby Cuitzeo, just outside of Morelia, Michoacan. It’s run by the cartel with the complete cooperation of local officials.

So how did things get to this crisis level? Gas stations that were in the habit of buying large quantities of this water-down gas, had scheduled low numbers of tanker truck deliveries from Pemex distribution centers this month, as they have had every month previously. With the pipelines shut down, the huachicoleros lost their supply of illegal gas and have been unable to make their regular deliveries. 

You might already know that the previous president Pena Nieto opened the petroleum market up for foreign investors. So now, Exxon and Mobile stations have sprung up all over the place, even taking over formerly owned Pemex stations. In our area, these foreign-owned stations ran out of gas long before the lone Pemex holdout. Now in the third week of the gas crisis, this single Pemex gas station has been receiving regular shipments every 2-3 days, which is not enough to meet demand with the other gas stations in town being effectively closed. So many people are still camping out in their cars awaiting the next gas shipment that an entire lane of traffic has been closed to accommodate them stretching for miles. Traffic has been entirely rerouted.

That’s not to say that only foreign-owned gas stations have been buying stolen gas. I think there might be an inherent bias in the distribution system these days. AMLO has been vocal about Mexico for the Mexicans. Foreign importation of gasoline has already been reduced. So it’s no far stretch to believe Pemex is taking care of its own first.

Gas ahead.

What will happen next? According to AMLO, the pipelines will remain closed. The income loss experienced by the huachicoleros won’t be taken lightly. There are bound to be violent repercussions in our cartel-run area. In fact, in some areas, the regular ol’ Joses and Josefinas have taken up the call of the huachicoleros and tapped their own pipelines

In the meantime, enjoy the La Cumbia del Wachicol by Tamara Alcantara while you can.

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Would you like to read about my own experience with governmental correuption in rural Mexico?

Check out La Yacata Revolution: How NOT to buy a piece of Heaven in Mexico.

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The Honduran Migrant Caravan in Mexico

Families, women, and children, young girls, teenage boys….these are the desperate and hungry people who make up this caravan of refugees crossing Mexico with the hope of finding safety in the United States.

It’s not an invasion, no matter what the hysterical president might say. And it’s entirely legal. Under both U.S. and international law, those fleeing violence from Central American countries are allowed to apply for asylum in both Mexico and in the U.S.

For safety, these families have banded together to search out a secure place for their children to go to school, play, grow up. This human caravan is reported to have begun in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, known as the murder capital of the world. The group grew to more than 1,600 Hondurans by the time they reached the Guatemalan border. Although Guatemala first attempted to deny the refugees entrance, the government later relented. By the time this caravan reached the Mexican border, it was a group of over 4,000.

On October 19, these desperate men, women, and children were attacked with pepper spray by Mexican forces at the border. Nine children, 18 women, two of them pregnant and six men were injured during the attack. Although Mexico has since allowed the caravan to enter, even issuing 45-day visas with the idea that they should be able to reach the US border within that time frame, the government is not making any official efforts to assist the group. In fact, an arrangement that would have allowed the group to take buses to Mexico City was denied, with many saying it was government pressure that caused the plan to fall through. Although the first caravan has finally arrived in Mexico City despite it all. 

The residents of small towns in Mexico along the route have been generous with their support. Volunteers have been providing food, clothing, and medicine to the refugees. The Mexican President has also made some concessions. As long as these migrants remain in Chiapas and Oaxaca, two of the nation’s poorest states and far, far from the U.S. border, they will be given temporary ID cards, work permits, medical care, schooling, and housing in hostels under the Estás en Tu Casa proposal.

Of course, this proposal doesn’t take into account that some areas of Mexico are just as dangerous as the countries these refugees are fleeing. Or address the fact that the U.S. has commissioned Mexico to keep these migrants from its borders. It is estimated that 950,000 Central Americans have been deported from Mexico in the past few years and there is reason to believe that thousands more have disappeared. The enormous number of mass graves found in Mexico give credence to that. Even with these reasons against staying in Mexico, many have applied for permission to remain. Others, however, are determined to reach the U.S.

There are an estimated 2,300 children in this huddled mass of homeless humanity. Some are ill, all are hungry and tired, yet the caravan moves on step-by-step. These parents must know that the chances of their families being allowed to stay together is remote. Perhaps, their thought is that even if their children are taken from them, maybe adopted or placed in child detention centers, as awful as that may be, there is a chance that their children will survive, something these parents did not believe would happen in their native countries.

So instead of all this mass hysteria, why not take a moment to walk a mile in the shoes of these anxious parents and exhausted children and consider the lengths you would go for your family?

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National Preparedness Month

Did you know September is National Preparedness Month? Now, you may know that I am denial about my Prepper tendencies. In fact, I’ve been known to poke fun at the bunker building types in the past. Today I’m going to confess a few things you may have already guessed if you’ve read my blog for any length of time.

I’ve watched 8 seasons of the Walking Dead and was thoroughly disappointed with season 8. Michone hardly had any action at all although Carol is still there battling both the dead and undead!

My favorite Game of Thrones character is Arya, because she’s a survivor. Her direwolf Nymeria is also AMAZING leading her own pack now that winter has come.

My favorite historical figure in Mexican history is Malinche. Although slandered with slurs of traitor and whore, the fact is she rose above her position as a slave and used her intelligence to survive the turbulent conquest years.

And I’ve written a Prepper book about Mexico (which is free for the next few days in honor of my coming out as a Prepper).

Just to feed my hysterical Prepper side a little bit more, I’ve been watching the award-winning 2014 series Years of Living Dangerously. Each episode is sort of the Hollywood version of the dangers of climate change (which existence the current U.S. president denies emphatically). Harrison Ford, Jessica Alba, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, America Ferrera, Michael Hall, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia Munn, Thomas Friedman, Ian Somerhalder, Lesley Stahl, Chris Hayes, M. Sanjayan and Mark Bittman are the commentators in the first season 9-episode documentary which was awarded an Emmy for outstanding nonfiction series–take that alternative fact Mr. President. World-renown journalists, not from Fox news, share the events, scientific causes and human toll of drought, hurricanes, global warming, deforestation and more. Let me tell you, each episode moves me just a little further on down the lane towards my secret Prepper alter-ego and bunker building inclinations.

It’s shameful to be an American these days. Not only do I adamantly oppose government-sponsored child abductions, but the fact that the United States is a knowing contributor towards global climate change and has gone so far as to repeal the several key environmental protection laws and encourage more fossil fuel exploitation makes me glad that I am living in exile.

Of course, I am well aware that what happens in the U.S. and other nations will ultimately affect my life and my child’s life and my grandchildren’s lives (when and if they make an appearance). My hope is that I will have Prepared enough and Prepared my son enough so that at least this branch of the Flores family won’t become extinct. To that end, I still have my eye on the lot next door. We need a larger garden if we expect to make it through the apocalypse and beyond.

So Happy Preparedness Month everyone! Although it might be more in line with the event to caution–Be Prepared! I encourage you to check out Years of Living Dangerously if you haven’t already and download my free book if Mexico is starting to seem like a better alternative to where you currently live.

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Overview of Travel MedEvac Insurance

Remember I mentioned that travel by ambulance isn’t a free service provided by the Red Cross? When my mother-in-law was in the hospital after being hit by a police officer driving excessively fast for no reason, she was taken to an IMSS hospital since she worked as a street cleaner for the presidencia (town hall). When I arrived, hours after the accident, she had not yet been seen by a doctor, although a nurse had bandaged her leg and taken x-rays. When the doctor finally arrived from Morelia (apparently there wasn’t a doctor on staff), he insisted that she be transported to the Regional Hospital that was better equipped to handle her injuries. The family had to arrange ambulance transportation because she was not in stable enough condition to be moved by other means. Our local Red Cross has the only ambulance in the area. The cost was not covered by IMSS. It took hours to make the arrangements. When she finally arrived at the hospital, she was admitted to ICU. Her spleen had been ruptured in the accident and she was bleeding internally.

The admitting doctor suggested she be transported to the hospital in Leon, GTO, a 4-hour drive. Again, there was the issue of ambulance transport to arrange. For some reason, the family member in charge would not sign off the transfer. My mother-in-law contracted a respiratory infection in the hospital and died.

So believe me when I say that the universal health care Mexico provides through Seguro Popular and IMSS may not be enough in some situations.

Today I’d like to highlight one insurance company’s policies for US and Canadian citizens while they are in Mexico in order to provide a baseline of what type of coverage to look for when purchasing additional insurance.Travel-MedEvac_728x90_r2

Travel MedEvac Insurance’s slogan is Medical Transport Home when the Unexpected Happens (which of course, nobody hopes for but unfortunately is a possibility).

The MedEvac insurance covers evacuation by air transport to a hospital of your choice in your home country (US or Canada) and transfer by air or ambulance to another hospital in Mexico as needed if you are medically unable to travel internationally. So in the event of injury or illness, MedEvac will make sure you are taken to a hospital, whether in Canada, US, or Mexico, that will be able to treat your condition. This is especially helpful if you are in a rural area in Mexico where the medical facilities are understaffed and lacking updated (or even functioning) equipment.

What about your family? Well, MedEvac offers transportation for a traveling companion, spouse, and dependents to the hospital where you been evacuated in your home country. If you are unable to be air-lifted out of Mexico, MedEvac provides transportation for your immediate family to the hospital where you are receiving treatment.

What about your stuff? MedEvac will transport your vehicle, RV, motorcycle, and watercraft from Mexico to your home country. If you are discharged but not able to drive, MedEvac will make sure your vehicle is returned to you in your home country.

What happens if you die? MedEvac will prepare your body for transport and complete the repatriation process up to $50,000 USD. This may include embalming or cremation, casket, and transportation.

So what are your options?

MedEvac offers daily and annual plans. Daily plans are good for up to 90 days in Mexico and best for vacationers, cruisers, business travelers, students, missionaries, church groups, timeshare owners, and volunteers who do not plan on staying more than 90 days in Mexico. There are plans available for groups of 10 with additional plans in increments of 10 at special group rates.

Annual plans are offered for both 6 month and 12 month periods. The Classic Plan covers you if you travel to Mexico several times a year but never longer than 90 days. The Extended-Stay Plan covers you if you live in Mexico part of the year but do not stay longer than the 180-day tourist visa limit. Either plan would work for Snowbirds and frequent travelers.

As of April 2018, a third policy has been added to MedEvac’s plans specially designed for expatriates that live in Mexico more than 180 days per year. In this situation, medical evacuation could include transfer to another hospital for treatment in Mexico rather than in your original country. If your stay is more than 2 days, traveling companions and dependents will be given transportation to their homes. If you are in the hospital for more than 7 days, MedEvac will provide for the transportation of a visitor for a single visit to your bedside.

There are some things to consider.

If you are older than 84 or have been advised by your doctor that you should not travel, you would not qualify for this type of insurance. It’s also important that your passport be current, otherwise, there may be complications in leaving Mexico or entering your home country.

Additionally, there are some situations where accident or injury would not be covered under MedEvac’s policies. If injuries are self-inflicted or sustained in a war zone, you wouldn’t be eligible. If you are injured while piloting your own plane or canyoneering, you wouldn’t be eligible. If you are traveling specifically to seek treatment whether or not medically necessary, you would not qualify for the plans above. (I’ll talk about Medical Tourism in another post.)

There are also some restrictions which you might need to take into consideration when living or traveling in Mexico. You might not be able to be evacuated from areas which the U.S. government has issued travel restrictions (See U. S. Travel Restrictions for Mexico) or areas where civil unrest or natural disaster has temporarily shut down air traffic.

So, as part of a comprehensive medical insurance program, travel insurance, like the policies offered by MedEvac might be something you should seriously consider.

This information is provided for informational purposes only. Please refer to the MedEvac’s page for current plans and prices, requirements and restrictions.Travel-MedEvac_728x90_r2

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