Tag Archives: safety in Mexico

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.

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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.

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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! 

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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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Surviving a Kakistocracy in La Yacata

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Kakistocracy occurs when the least qualified are in positions of power. That definition certainly fits Mexico to a T.

The whole mismanagement of funds and the lack of services in La Yacata can be followed back to having the least qualified person in charge for more than 20 years. (See Birth of the Revolution) La Yacata is just a small not-quite village, but how high does this bad governing go, really?

Let’s look at the highly publicized case of the 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School who disappeared in 2014 as an example of the ineptitude. To make this long story shorter, here’s a brief summary of the facts known to date.  On September 26 of that year, 6 innocent bystanders were killed, 25 were wounded and 43 protesting students were abducted by local police in Iguala, Guerrero, which is about 80 miles south of Mexico City. (See also El Dia del Estudiante) Various elements of human rights violations were perpetrated in this incident. Starting at the bottom rung, local police were guilty of homicide and attempted homicide in the initial confrontation. Then once the students were detained, they were turned over to the crime syndicate Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors) by local police enforcement who then murdered every single one. Talk about a breach in due process there!

On September 28, 22 local police officers were arrested for their participation in the abduction and murder of the students and bystanders. But this was more than a local rogue police force. On September 30, a warrant was issued for the arrest of the Iguala mayor and his wife as well as the Director of Public Security, all of whom fled. The mayor and his wife were able to evade arrest until November 4. The Director of Public Security is still at large.

The ensuing protests in Mexico had a domino effect on the government structure. On October 23, the Governor of Guerrero resigned once it became clear that he had actively protected corrupt officials and possibly contributed to a cover-up of the events that transpired on Sept 26.

The PRD political party founder and senior leader resigned on November 25.  PRD is the dominant political party in Guerrero.

The Mexican Attorney General had received prior information about the cartel ties of the Iguala mayor and did not act on that information and is currently under investigation. He resigned his post on February 27, 2015.

Further investigation has shown that the Mexican Armed Forces were also present on September 26 and did nothing to aid the unarmed students or bystanders. In fact, the Army tried to run interference by preventing wounded students from receiving medical attention at the local clinic. The current Supreme Commander of the Mexican Armed Forces is the current Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. The President also holds the right to appoint the Attorney General.

Thus, kakistocracy is evident all the way to the top level of government in Mexico. But it doesn’t stop there. Several experts have traced the hierarchy of power to the U.S. And as long as the U.S. is pulling the strings, Mexico will continue to be a kakistocracy. (See La Llorona Returns)

So how does all this make La Yacata the perfect place to live in the event of kakistocracy? Well, once the colonos (community members) became fed up with the local kakistocracy, we staged a coup, albeit a legal one and elected a new governing body. Although we have yet to succeed in uniting the community enough to really benefit ourselves, we have prevented the continued exploitation by the same corrupt representative. (See You can lead a horse to water, sewage, and electricity)  Therefore, we are all ready for the coming revolution!

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Fighting for Flowers

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Yesterday afternoon, I turned into the neighborhood where I live and came upon three men with machetes cutting down the flowering trees at the entrance. Without thought, I stopped and demanded to know what they were doing

The leader of the two said he was beautifying the neighborhood since the branches were low hanging and ugly. I asked if he had permission. I meant permission from the owner of the lot who borders the trees, although I suppose the trees were technically in the public thoroughfare. He thought I meant permission from the Departmento de Ecología (Department of ecology) since cutting green trees is a fine-able offense. He said he didn’t need permission to tidy up the place.

So I asked who he was. He said he was the owner of the trees–of course. I told him I didn’t believe him. As I am part of the community board of directors, I know nearly all of the people who own lots in the community. These three men were strangers to me. Not that my neighbors in La Yacata are any better.  (See Good Fences make good neighbors, unless your neighbor steals it) He told me that I should contact the town council and tell them to come and trim the trees in the neighborhood.

My Spanish failed me at this point. I wanted to say eloquently that the town council would not come and trim trees until after they installed water, sewer and electricity in our community. I wanted to say that cutting such beautiful trees is a crime against nature. I wanted to say that he was a lying piece of poop that really had some gall thinking I would believe his altruistic motives for cutting the trees when we both knew he would take and sell the leña (firewood) in town.

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What I said was that I would take pictures and show them to the owner when he asks me who cut down his trees. So I did, not that it did much good. One man turned his back to me, the other partially covered his face. I thought maybe I could get some identification from the moto (motorcycle) that was parked there, but it didn’t have any license plates.

I remained on edge the rest of the afternoon and into the next day. I tried to go and see the president of the neighborhood, but he wasn’t in his office. So I sent an email with the pictures and an account of my interaction with the men. He wrote back and said that he would investigate the matter.

My husband scolded me afterward. I shouldn’t be going around taking pictures of men with machetes. What was I thinking?

I have to admit to being impetuous at times. These men were destroying that which I enjoyed every day. The flowers on these trees and the scent they emit are my welcome home. How DARE they destroy that?

You see, that morning the mother of three of my students was shot and killed while heading to the gym. Last week, the father of a former student was kidnaped and is being held for ransom. Last month, someone in front of Waldo’s (a local discount store) was shot “accidentally” by police officers. The month before that two transito (traffic) officers were shot and killed by “unknown” assailants. Not so very long ago, my nephew was taken and tortured by rival drug members. Before that, my mother-in-law was run down by a police vehicle and killed. And before that, my husband was kidnapped right in our own neighborhood.

Those are the local issues. Looking beyond the borders of my own town– Last month, 42 people and one police officer were executed by the police just a few hours away in Michoacan. Last September, 43 students disappeared in Guerrero.  Mexico averages nearly 100 murders a day. In the past three years, more than 10,000 people have disappeared. Last week, a reporter and 4 female activists were tortured and murdered. Femicide is commonplace.

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And I can do NOTHING about any of these things. This place that I now call home is lawless, corrupt, and dying. The beauty that has existed for thousands of years is threatened by the unethical actions of man.

However, I could threaten the bejeezus out of these three men. Maybe word will get out that a crazy “gringa” (white lady) lives in La Yacata that goes around hugging trees and dancing in the rain–someone these would-be wrongdoers should steer clear of. It’s a small, unrealistic hope. The truth is there is no enforceable consequence for their actions. They know it. I know it. The government knows it. The world knows it. But I have to try.

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Filed under La Yacata Revolution, Native fauna and flora, Safety and Security