AMLO builds a wall

Cannabis closer in becoming legal

Hello everyone! In this week’s edition we bring you the Foreign Press’ coverage of the International Women’s Day Protests, Mexico’s new step towards legalizing cannabis, and how a journalist fared when he told AMLO about his research into deforestation caused by one of the Presidents’ programs.

Women Met With Force While Protesting Gender Violence

NPR / The Guardian
Names of femicide victims, slogans and flowers on the barricade outside Palacio Nacional ahead of International Women’s Day demonstrations Photographer: Karen Melo/Getty Images
Names of femicide victims, slogans and flowers on the barricade outside Palacio Nacional ahead of International Women’s Day demonstrations Photographer: Karen Melo/Getty Images

Without a doubt, the top story of the week was the International Women’s Day protest, but this story really begins before the protests even started. Three days earlier, the government sealed the Palacio Nacional (the home and office of AMLO) with a three-meter high barrier, sparking anger from women who were protesting the government’s lack of action when it came to keeping them safe. The President defended the barricade saying it prevented violence...

On Monday, as the protesters gathered around Palacio Nacional, women wearing black balaclavas pulled down parts of the barricade but were met by police officers who fired flash-bang grenades into the crowd. According to Mexico City’s police minister, at least 62 police and 19 civilians were injured.

The next morning, the President cheered the local police force for not succumbing to the protester’s violence. He also called out international media outlets for portraying the police officers as pigs - at his press conference, a journalist said she was verbally assaulted by those same police officers and that they had thrown bottles at her filled with a liquid (not water).. 

More context. In the weeks prior, President Lopez Obrador was repeatedly asked and criticized for backing a politician accused by several women of rape. Not only did he not sway in his posture, he accused ‘conservatives’ of manipulating the feminist movement. Despite being a leftist president, his continuous downplay of gender violence in the country, along with his newfound support of an alleged rapist and criticism of feminist protesters, has created divisions within his party - Yet, even if he loses some support among women, it is unlikely they will return to opposition parties in the center and right side of the spectrum.

Recommended reading: ‘AMLO made us public enemy No 1': why feminists are Mexico's voice of opposition

🌲 How Mexico’s Vast Tree-Planting Program Ended Up Encouraging Deforestation

During Wednesday’s mañanera (AMLO’s daily morning press conference) the author of this Bloomberg article, Max de Haldevang, told the President about his recent trip to Campeche where he witnessed people clearing swaths of forest in order to qualify for compensation from the government’s reforestation program, Sembrando Vida. The program aims at creating an income source for impoverished rural communities and to reforest Mexico, however it seems to have instead created a perverse incentive to clear already existing forest. And we’re not talking about just a plot here and there, the author claims that the amount of cleared forest for the program is about the size of New York City. AMLO’s promise to the reporter, similar to other complaints) is that his government was going to probe the ‘alleged’ deforestation  Bloomberg

Lawsuits expected over Mexican law on power generation

As Congress passed a new law that prioritises electricity generated from government-owned plants, critics are saying that the battle is far from over. On a national level, minority lawmakers and autonomous agencies can legally challenge the bill with the Supreme Court. According to energy policy expert Montserrat Ramiro, this could take anywhere from 6 months to a year. She did say that taking into account a recent ruling, it is likely that the Court will dismantle the bill for going against the Constitution. If the Court upholds the bill, international litigation might come into play, and both private companies and foreign governments (US and Canada) can take the matter to a USMCA arbitration panel.  Associated Press

👮 Ooops! A high profile sexual predator and former PRI leader escaped

At first, local prosecutors came out in a celebratory mood as they had successfully obtained an arrest warrant against a former local PRI leader, Cuauhtémoc Gutiérrez de la Torre. He was charged with attempted sexual exploitation, false advertising, and criminal conspiracy. Then, information was published that a police operation took place over the weekend had actually failed and allowed Gutiérrez to flee. Back in 2014, when he led the PRI in Mexico City, the MVS radio station aired a story by an undercover reporter who recorded recruiters at Gutierrez’s office telling potential hires they would have to have sex with him. After 7 years of government inaction, the chances of arresting Gutiérrez have sadly diminished. Associated Press

🌿 Mexico's landmark cannabis bill one step closer to becoming law

Weed is one step closer to becoming decriminalized in Mexico. A draft bill was approved by two special committees and now it will go to the full chamber. Under the bill the government will issue permits for “the cultivation, transformation, sale, research and export or import of marijuana.” This could create job opportunities and increased tax revenue for Mexico. Foreign companies and investors are also licking their chops as one of the biggest cannabis markets is set to open up. We’ll keep you posted as the bill progresses! Reuters

💊 Biden policies stir Mexican concerns over new boom for cartels

Since Biden has become president, border crossings have surged at hopes of fairer treatment in the US than under Trump, especially for undocumented children. Sadly, at the same time, it has given the cartels even more migrants to traffic. A mexican official told Reuters that migrants have become a commodity but, “if a packet of drugs is lost in the sea, it’s gone. If migrants are lost, it’s human beings we’re talking about.” The cartel also appears to take advantage of the distraction caused by increased migrant traffic to smuggle drugs, using the migrants themselves as mules. Some Mexicans are happy about stopping Trump’s border wall construction, but many are now calling for Mexico to limit crossings from its Southern border.  Al Jazeera

What else we’ve been reading:

The Love and Crimes of Emma Coronel Aispuro — El Chapo’s Wife  [MEL Magazine]

U.S. Stimulus Is Delivering the Cash to Mexicans That AMLO Won’t [Bloomberg]

Mexico Ruling Party Denies Leader Was Part of Sex Cult  [Bloomberg]

About México Desde Afuera

México Desde Afuera is your one stop shop newsletter that brings you the biggest news about Mexico reported by the Foreign Press. If you want to get this newsletter (and a bit of sarcasm) delivered every week straight to your inbox, please subscribe.

Comments on this newsletter?

We’d love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to share them by replying to this email.

Translation: It wasn’t a protest with a stage; it was one with hammers, damage, gasoline and fire

Context: AMLO was calling out the violence shown by some participants in the feminist protests.