Category Archives: Safety and Security

Beefing up Security

If you remember last year after persons unknown hoisted two of our goats and the neighbor’s sheep over the wall, we did some security upgrades. We raised the 6-foot wall to 9 feet and added some motion activated solar lights.  As part of our remodeling projects this year, we did some more.

First, we turned our front gate to the animal area into a more or less solid set of doors. My husband used laminas (corrugated roofing) from a neighbor’s discarded chicken house (or at least that’s what the neighbor called it. I’m not convinced his chickens ever considered it a worthy home). As that bit of lamina wasn’t enough to completely cover the door, he bought a few more segments and had the welder come and finish the job.

Our greenhouse had two barred windows put in, preventing front entry to that area. However, we didn’t have enough moolah for the back barred windows which leaves a decided gap that a determined zombie neighbor could pull himself through and get in to wreck havoc with our plants.


See that back right corner? That’s the neighbor’s roof. And yes, that’s me, looking like a frog on a log there!

Therefore, a roll of barbed wire was purchased in the meantime and strung from one end of the compound to the other. I’m not positive it will completely deter would-be intruders but it might slow them up a bit until we can afford those back two barred windows.


We also took some indoor precautions.  I finally went ahead and ordered the carbon dioxide detectors that have been in my virtual shopping cart for a few months.  In the news recently, there was a story about a family vacationing in Mexico who died from a leak in the hot water heater. This prompted my actual purchase. Since they came in a pack of three, one went upstairs, one next to my son’s room and the third is on standby or if we need to make the storage room a bedroom again.  I know they work because the other day my husband was fiddling with the truck and the exhaust fumes set it off. It’s a horrible high pitch beeping! 


However, carbon dioxide alarms will not detect a gas leak.  So in addition to the CO2 alarms, I ordered a natural gas detector.  I’m always the first (and sometimes only) person in the house who smells something funny when there is a leak in our gas tank hose. When my nose says there is an issue, I nag my husband until he checks it with the ol’ soapy water method.  I’m usually proven right. Our tank is outside, so the chances if the fumes causing death are low, but gas is expensive these days ($580 per tank) and we don’t have that kind of money to burn. I tested this out too, and it works just dandy.

The security bug hit my husband as well and he went and priced those security camera setups. I’m not sure we need to go that far though. Besides, he’d probably stay up all night watching the video feed of the cows grazing down the neighbor’s crops.




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Rape Culture in Mexico

The “Me Too” campaign recently making the rounds on social media sites called to mind another demand for justice launched last year called Ya No Nos Callamos Mas (We won’t Shut Up).  While both campaigns were begun to highlight sexual abuse of women, Ya No Nos Callamos Mas has a forum for NAMING the assailant publically.  After all, there is some accountability due for sexual assault.  Someone is the aggressor.  Someone is the victim.  Why should only the victim be named?

One in every 10 women in Mexico has been a victim of a sexual assault ranging in severity from groping to rape. Officials estimate that each year there are 120,000 rapes, one every 4 minutes, making Mexico number one in the world for sexual violence incidents. (México es el primer lugar en violencia sexual: ONU) (Over 14,000 Women Are Raped in Mexico Every Year: Report)

Most of these rapes go unreported.  Of those that are reported, very few are brought to justice.  For example, in 2009, 14,829 rape cases were filed.  Of those, only 3,462 were prosecuted, which led to only 2,795 sentences. (Amnistía Internacional (AI) en 2012)(LA VIOLENCIA SEXUAL EN MÉXICO INICIA EN CASA Y EN SU MAYORÍA QUEDA IMPUNE)

Worldwide, 13.7% of females raped are under 10 years old.  65% are between the ages of 10 and 20 years old. (Ipas Salud) 70% of the rapists are family members.  In 7.2% of the cases, the rapist is the father while 8.2% of the rapists are stepfathers.  55.1% rapes are perpetrated by another male family member (uncles or cousins) or close friend of the family.  3.4% of the rapists are boyfriends of the victim. (Sexual Violence Research Initiative)

Outside the home, other areas of high risk for sexual assault are at school and at work where women are placed in submissive situations as employees or students. (Informe Especial “Adolescentes: Vulnerabilidad y Violencia”) (Extracto del Informe Nacional Sobre Violencia y Salud)

Not even going to and from school and work is without risk. Nearly 40% of women over the age of 15 have suffered some sort of public sexual aggression. Of these women, 92% have been victims of sexual intimidation and 42% have been sexually abused in public. (Encuesta Nacional sobre la Dinámica de las Relaciones en los Hogares 2006 (ENDIREH).  In Mexico City, 65% of women who use public transportation have been sexually harassed or assaulted. (The Pink Ghetto of Women’s Issues in Mexico: From Rape Whistles to Subway Cars) Between 2010 and 2015, 3 million incidents of sexual were reported. (Mexico City’s Plan To Fight Sexual Assault: Whistles On The Subway) (Mexico City Ridiculed for Sexual Harassment Fight With Whistles)(Teen’s death provokes anger across Mexico)(The Most Dangerous Place for Mexican Women is In the Streets)

Fleeing the violence of their home countries also puts women in a vulnerable position. Six out of every 10 female migrants are sexually assaulted during the course of their travels.  Being picked up by border patrol does not guarantee freedom from sexual assault.  In one survey in 2006, 23 out of 90 women already detained reported being raped while in custody, more than half indicating the aggressor was a US state official. (Sexual assault of migrants from Latin America to the United States)(Why So Much Violence against Migrant Women?)

Mexico has laws to protect women. Although abortion is illegal in this Catholic country, the Official Mexican Standard 046, in effect since 2005, stipulates that in case of violation, “the institutions providing health care services must offer immediately and up to a maximum of 120 hours after the event occurred, emergency contraception “and are obliged to” provide medical abortion services ” Yet victims are often denied this right. (Teenage rape victim denied abortion in Mexico after judge rules attack was ‘consensual’ ) What can you expect from officials who claim the high rate of teenage pregnancies are due to “irresponsibility among females and inattention on the part of the heads of families” negating any responsibility of the male half of the equation? (In OECD Mexico no. 1 for teen pregnancies)

The State of Mexico has the most severe penalties for rape, 40 to 70 years in prison. In Quintana Roo the sentences are from 30 to 50 years and in Morelos and from 20 to 25 years. Shorter sentences are found in Coahuila and Durango, with sentences between 3 and 8 years of prison, and in Zacatecas, 4 to 10 years. In Coahuila, rape carries a penalty of 14 to 21 years in prison, but if it is a homicide conviction, sentences are only from 7 to 16 years, leading to an increase of femicides in the area (See Ni Una Mas).(Protocolo de investigación de los delitos de violencia sexual hacia las mujeres, desde la perspectiva de género)  Despite these reforms, only 3 out of every 100 rapists brought to trial are found guilty. (Lo mejor de Animal Político 2016: Solo 3 de cada 100 ataques sexuales en México se castigan)  

Recently, a rapist was found not guilty because he claimed he was not sexually satisfied. (When Rape Culture Meets Impunity In Mexico) Twenty-five of 32 Mexico states do not consider sexual assault of minors a grave offense. (En 25 estados, el abuso sexual infantil es cosa menor; no lo consideran delito grave) Baja California, Campeche, Durango, and Sonora will drop rape charges if the rapist marries his victim. (More Than 1 in 5 Women Are Married Before They’re 18 in Mexico) (Matrimonios y uniones tempranas de ninas)

Mexico is also the leader in child pornography distribution and the second-largest producer of child pornography worldwide.  An estimated 20,000 children in Mexico are victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation each year. There are over 12,300 Mexican internet accounts that provide photographs and videos of children being sexually abused.  Veracruz has the highest incident of this, targeting girls between 11 and 15 years of age.  There is evidence that the governor himself is involved in these transactions, although he has yet to be charged. (12,000 child porn sites identified in MX)(‘Sex brokers’ in Tijuana connect men looking to exploit very young children, FBI says)(Child pornographer link probed in Chapala) (‘How Did I Get Here?’ — A Photographer Captures Women in Mexico’s Brothels)

With statistics like those above, is it any wonder that empowerment movements like Ya No Nos Callamos Mas and Me Too are growing? Perhaps if enough women scream, perhaps if enough women protest, perhaps if enough women insist on their rights to their own body…..but that’s only half the battle.  Rapists, abusers, and child molesters must be held accountable for their actions. And that’s not likely to happen soon, at least not here in Mexico.

Resources for Women in Mexico

Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres (INMUJERES)

Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración (imumi)

Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center

Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) (En Espanol)

From Surviving to Thriving: Recovery Guide for Survivors of Abuse by Robert Gallagher

The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Ellen Bass

Other resources

Men Can Stop Rape

National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center

Communities Against Violence Network (CAVNET)

To the Survivors: One Man’s Journey as a Rape Crisis Counselor with True Stories of Sexual Violence by Robert Uttaro




Filed under Cultural Challenges, Safety and Security

Lessons Learned from Mexico’s Recent Earthquakes

Although I have repeatedly stated I’m not a bonafide Prepper, every now and then I go into Prepper mode.  Recent events activated that dormant Prepper switch and out pops posts like this.

In any given day there are several hundred earthquakes around the world.  Earthquakes with a magnitude of 7 or greater occur on average once a month. (How Often Do Earthquakes Occur?)

Not all earthquakes are related to plate tectonics.  Research has proven that fracking, wastewater disposal, and fluid injection can also cause earthquakes. According to the Official website of the Department of Homeland Security, all 50 U.S. state, and 5 U.S. territories are at some risk for earthquakes.  Earthquakes can happen any day of the year and can not be predicted. Thus, it’s in your best interest to learn a little bit about earthquake survival.

In September, Mexico experienced a series of devastating earthquakes.  Being close enough to know people affected made me realize that there are a few things you and I can do to be better prepared in the event of an earthquake.

Find out about the structural integrity of your home and buildings you frequent.

After the deadly earthquake in Mexico City in 1985, the city began to require that all buildings be earthquake proof, holding builders to a high quality of material and construction. (MEXICO CITY’S CODE OF BUILDING REGULATIONS) There is no doubt that these higher standards saved thousands of lives last month. (In Mexico Quake, Geography and Building Codes Played Important Roles) However, 3,000 buildings in the city collapsed or were severely damaged.  People were trapped in those buildings and not everyone was rescued.  Investigators have since discovered that corners were cut and documents falsified for some of these buildings.  The substandard material that was used in many of those newer buildings was not able to withstand the earthquake and aftershocks. (His Mexico City Apartment Block Was Built Only Months Ago. So Why Did It Collapse So Easily?, Mexico City Probes Corruption Allegations Arising From Earthquake Building Damage, Collapsed School in Mexico Earthquake Is Checked for ‘Hidden Defects’)

Therefore, it’s in your best interest to have your own home assessed by a professional. It wouldn’t exactly be a good thing for all your carefully amassed survival supplies to be buried beneath a ton of rubble after an earthquake. (Earthquake Publications: Building Codes and Seismic Rehabilitation).  It’s also a good idea to check Public Records and find out some basic building information about your office building, workplace, your children’s schools, and even your grocery store.

Learn what to do in the event of an earthquake.

Since the 1985 earthquake, Mexico City requires a city-wide earthquake drill every year on September 19, the anniversary of the 1985 quake and ironically the same day as the latest earthquake. (Hours after an earthquake drill in Mexico City, the real thing struck) During this drill, alarms sound over loudspeakers, alerts are broadcasted over the radio and TV stations, and messages are even sent to cellphones. The residents of Mexico City are encouraged to leave stores, workplaces and schools and head to designated safe areas. 

I’ve seen a lot of conflicting advice about what the best thing to do during an earthquake. The Official website of the Department of Homeland Security suggests getting under a desk or table and remaining in the building. The Mexico City drills reinforce getting out of the building as quickly as possible while the Victoria State Emergency Service tells you to stay inside until the shaking stops. Undoubtedly the best thing to do is be in an area that does not have buildings, bridges, light posts, electric wires, or trees that may fall on you. Barring that, may I suggest hightailing it to an area without buildings, bridges, light posts, electric wires or trees as soon as possible?

Learn basic first aid.

In Mexico, governmental organizations were slow or ineffectual in dealing with the thousands of people injured or trapped after the earthquake.  (Mexico earthquake: Victims complain of slow response, Aftershock: Mexicans frustrated by slow government response to earthquake disaster) The same can be true in the area in which you live. It may take some time for official organizations to gather information and arrive on scene after an earthquake.

Thus, it’s a mighty fine idea for you to learn basic first aid in the likelihood that you, your family or the people near you are injured during an earthquake. In the chaos after an earthquake, you might be the only person in a position to provide care to injured individuals or yourself. The Red Cross offers a variety of first aid courses. Take one. Remember, the life that you save may be your own.

Do what you can to help as soon as you can.

The first 48 hours after an earthquake is crucial for search and rescue efforts. Having experienced a major earthquake in living memory, Mexican City residents wasted no time in creating bucket brigades to remove debris and search for survivors. (Civilian volunteers rise to the challenge of deadly Mexico earthquake, Army Of Volunteers Helps In Mexico Search And Rescue, Mexico City Volunteers Venture Out in Force to Aid Quake Victims) Ordinary citizens brought water and food to those continuing the search and recovery efforts and opened their homes to the displaced victims. Nearly all of the rescue workers that dug through the rubble at a collapsed factory and saved 14 lives were volunteers.  (Volunteers Dig Through Rubble of Collapsed Factory After Mexico Earthquake)

Now that the focus has turned from rescue to recovery, with little or no help from large organizations especially in outlying areas, the Mexican people have come together to do what must be done to aid earthquake survivors. (Mexicans show the world how to work together when an earthquake hitsTime stands still for town in Xochimilco)

I’m sure you’ve encountered the “Lone Wolf” survivalist mentality from time to time. But, did you know that humans are biologically wired for compassion? (The Compassionate Instinct) And that we are cooperative rather than competitive beings? (Are People Naturally Inclined to Cooperate or Be Selfish?)  You can be sure that the community around you will remember your actions (or lack of activity) in a crisis situation like an earthquake.Therefore, the best chance you have for survival in the next SHTF situation is making yourself an essential part of a cooperative assistance group in the current one, not hoarding your supplies and brandishing your shotgun.  With that in mind, after you have checked that you and yours are fine, go out and do what you can to help.

At the moment, Mexico needs rebuilding assistance. Here’s how you can help.

Architects and structural engineers are needed to help inspect homes damaged during the earthquakes in Mexico last month. Salva Tu Casa, Mancera Miguel MX, YonoFui

Therapists are needed to provide counseling to affected survivors. APM Online,  TerrapiMX  and Terapify

Habitat for Humanity in Mexico. Volunteer to rebuild homes!

Not able to volunteer at the moment?  Donations are appreciated.

Global Giving  

Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal, Ambulante and Omaze are joining forces to help the victims of the earthquake in Mexico.

Reconstruyamos México: Viviendas en Oaxaca

Zapatistas (EZLN) Solidarity bank deposits for indigenous reconstruction

Donate with Google

Donation matching at Kichink

Relief 4 Marginalized Zones in MX

Studio de Baile International is accepting donations for the town of Atzala, Puebla.


Or contact me and I can send you contact information for individuals who could use help rebuilding or repairing their homes.



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What can you do to help?

Earthquake rebuilding is just beginning. Here’s how you can help Oaxaca!

View From Casita Colibrí

In Oaxaca city, while nerves remain on edge, life is going on as usual with only a few signs of the recent earthquakes:  Buildings years ago labeled “inmueble en mal estado” (property in a bad state) now sport yellow caution tape, as does Templo De La Virgen De Las Nieves, which has a huge crack along one of the bell towers.  And, on my block, a plywood retaining wall has been erected to contain a wall that collapsed back in 2012.

IMG_0702 (1)

Those atrapada (trapped) by the September 7th and September 19th earthquakes have mostly been rescued, though réplicas (aftershocks) continue daily, especially in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region — still in the 4 to 4.5 on the Richter Scale (though not felt in Oaxaca city).   Damnificados (victims) and escombros (debris) are all that remain in the hardest hit areas but tens of thousands of people are being forced…

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