BY SANTIAGO VERDUGO
You can’t make this stuff up. Three people were struck and killed by a runaway truck whose brakes failed while they were helping themselves to the cargo aboard another truck, whose brakes had also failed. This all went down on a big highway on the mainland.
Passersby saw an opportunity after the first truck was stuck on a runaway truck ramp on a section of the highway in Veracruz. They broke into the trailer and began stealing its cargo of cleaning supplies. But minutes later a second truck barreled down the ramp, (Doesn’t anyone in Mexico maintain their brakes? Has anyone even seen a runaway truck using those sand pits?) The second runaway truck knocked over three of the looters like they were bowling pins.
But that didn’t stop fellow looters, who kept right on snatching these coveted cleaning supplies. (Maybe there are some good deals on cleaning supplies on Craig’s List in Veracruz?)
Meanwhile, others started whumping on the driver of the second truck, presumably in retaliation for hitting their fellow looters. The driver of that truck was hospitalized but is expected to recover.
Fake News. Four people were killed in a fake hysteria whipped up on social media. A fake message circulating on Facebook and Twitter and the messaging service WhatsApp, alerted people in several states that a wave of kidnappings was taking place. The gist of many messages was “don’t leave your kids alone, there’s a band of child snatchers within our midst.”
Some messages claimed that children are being abducted by organ-trafficking rings while others called for vigilante justice for anyone believed guilty of the crime. And that’s exactly what happened in two towns on consecutive days last week.
First, an uncle and his nephew were killed by an angry mob, then a man and a woman were killed in the same way the next day. Both were burned alive. In both cases, the prosecutor’s offices said there was no evidence that the victims had committed any crime. Authorities also issued statements declaring that child abduction rings were operating in each state are false and urged citizens not to spread such information.
Authorities in other states where the same fake news has flourished — Yucatán, Durango, Jalisco and Sinaloa — have issued similar statements of their own.
The mother of 21-year-old Ricardo Flores Rodríguez, who was a farmworker and a law student at a university in Veracruz, blamed the mayor of Acatlán de Osorio, because the two men were taken by force from municipal police before they were tied up, doused with gasoline and set on fire.
“I want the head of the mayor because he is responsible for the death of my son and my brother-in-law,” Rosario Rodríguez said. “Why did they kill them? Why did they [local authorities] let them?”
The mother condemned the acts of mob justice, but also recognized shortcomings in Mexico’s justice and legal systems that result in high levels of impunity. “We reproach and condemn [the serving of] justice by one’s own hands, [but we cannot] prosecute presumably illegal behavior by seeking to serve justice with our own hands. We have to recognize that there is an institutional weakness in the procurement of justice, but that must not be substituted by [serving] justice by one’s own hands,” she said.
Commission chief Pérez warned that as long as the state does not provide minimal security there will be distrust of institutions and desperation among citizens to see justice served. The commission said there have been 25 deaths like this so far this year.
Dark Times. These are dark times for the town of Motul, on the Yucatán, particularly at city hall. The new mayor was sworn in Saturday, but the ceremony would have been conducted in the dark were it not for rented portable generators: the electricity was cut off due to an overdue account. Incoming mayor Roger Aguilar Arroyo claimed during the swearing-in ceremony that his predecessor had left the municipality in arrears with the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).
The PRI mayor said the PAN party’s mayor left an outstanding debt of US $156,000, most of which is owed to CFE. The new mayor pledged to negotiate a payment plan with the federal utility to have the administration’s power reconnected.
The electricity was cut off four times during the previous mayor’s three-year term. He has blamed his own predecessor for the unpaid debt. This is pretty standard in an administration change.
Same shit, different government. The fine imposed on the incoming Morena party has been rescinded. The fine was for money going missing from an earthquake relief fund on its watch.
The 10.3 million dollar fine was reversed because there was not enough evidence that it was Morena’s hands in the cookie jar. The cookie jar, which was filled with about $4.1 million through donations, was for the September 17th earthquake last year. 3.37 million dollars in cash was taken out of the trust and allocated to members of the party, according to the initial charge.
When the fine was announced in mid-July, President-Elect López Obrador, assured that this was “a vile revenge,” presumedly for winning the election.
We’re going to stop now, because we’re pretty much finished with dispensing bad news.
Wait. Here’s some semi good news. We’ll call it less bad news, as nobody is dead. Mexico’s president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) doesn’t take office until December, but he’s already got a multi-billion dollar dilemma on his hands: what to do with the country’s largest infrastructure project, already in a morass of scandals and corruption, which, if completed, will become one of the world’s most corrupt and most costly airports? Last month AMLO announced that his government would either finish it or expand a military base north of the Mexico City, depending on the results of a a review by engineering experts and a public referendum due in October.
An engineering association threw their support behind the completion of the $13 billion airport, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t also on the take. The already white elephant is in its fourth year of construction, only 30% completed, and $4 billion USD over budget.
Three big contracts, worth $5 billion, are in the hands of a consortia led by Grupo Carso, or other firms owned by Carlos Slim and his family. Slim is one of the richest men in the world, (Warren Buffet and Bill Gates keep trading places with him). Forbes says he’s worth $75 billion. Just how much money does one man need? What is he going to do with more billions? Maybe stealing is just habit with him. An addiction that could be helped with rehab. Slim is the owner of América Movil, formerly Teléfonos de Mexico, or Telmex. Telmex was the old telephone monopoly in the country, akin to America’s AT&T Inc. He was there to catch it when it was privatized.