Saving Mexico (?)

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The February 2014 cover of TIME Magazine portrayed Enrique Pena Nieto, President of Mexico, and his sweeping reforms as the key points to transform and improve the country after four years of violence. Alright, we sort of mocked him, we made fun of him, we were like “Yeah right” about it, but we never expected that the country could get this worse, and I mean, just stop watching “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo*” and google Mexico, and tell me what the top results are.

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But this situation didn´t just “happen”, violence didn´t just appear out of the cover of a magazine, nor when the Energy Reform was approved, violence was there, nurtured by authorities, society, private sector and weak law enforcement institutions.

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Just to put into context, from 2006 to 2012, during Felipe Calderon´s administration, a war on drugs was held, and by many, this war followed a wrong and violent strategy. By targeting and weakening rival drug cartels and criminal organizations, Calderon found himself, with the rest of the country, inside a beehive, full of violent groups, which were upset, aggressive, fearless and with no loyalty towards any authority, political party or another criminal group.

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His strategy was questioned by human rights NGOs, the opposition parties, the private sector (internationally and nationally), civil organizations and the international community. The fact that it seemed that he was just going against the drug cartels and criminal groups opposed to “El Chapo” Gúzman, made his efforts fall into suspicion and questioned by everyone. At the end of his administration, with over 80,000 deaths, millions spent on security, and urban centres 77874_600dismembered, socially and economically, the people just had enough. Many of us, many from the north of the country, understood that things would never be the same.

Urban centres in the north and centre of the country were reshaped by this war on drugs.

Entire families crossed the border into the US, and I mean medium-high to high income families. This left these regions without a strong national private investment, and a lack of entrepreneurial force to boost local economies around the country.

My point is, the violence that we are currently seeing in many parts of Mexico (not only the southern state of Guerrero) is a result of an aggressive security policy coming from the past administration and the absence of a real national security initiative from Pena´s team.

It seems that the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI), doesn´t know how to manage the criminal organizations, finds out of line those who criticize the way they react toward violent events, and seems more interested on not scaring away the foreign investment the Structural Reforms were designed to attract.

In conclusion, maybe it was way too soon for TIME Magazine to make the assumption that Enrique Pena Nieto (a person that during his administration as governor of the Estado de Mexico, was responsible of the human rights violations against civilians in the municipality of Atenco) was the factor that will save Mexico.

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Maybe we just need to wait and see.

Ps: *Uhh, this just in, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo got cancelled!

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My Favourite Salsa

When I was learning how to cook, back in 2004, I was in France as a Mexican Exchange student, and after four months I started  craving some Mexican food. My cooking knowledge wasn´t great but I knew how to mix some ingredients and just went for it.

Because, you  know, even after a couple of hours away from the country Mexicans start to crave salsa and tamales

Because, you know, even after a couple of hours away from the country Mexicans start to crave salsa and tamales

So I bought fresh tomatoes, onions and some “Indian” Chilies, you know, France. I came back to the dorms and started cooking, suddenly I realized I´ve made something that slightly resembled Mexican food, I was so excited I literally ran down the hall with a spoon full of that salsa just to give everybody a wee try. I know, not really that hygienic, but I was thrilled I´ve made something edible.

My first salsa is super easy to make, and it will not disappoint:

 

Ingredients:choppedonions

  • 1 big ass onion
  • 3 fresh tomatoes
  • 3 chilies (serranos, or Indian chilies will do)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 spoons of canola oil

 

First, heat a medium size pot, pour the oil, and place inside the onion, sliced, let it cook. You will notice that the onion will sizzle and then start to caramelize, don´t add any salt yet. Then put in the chopped chilies and chopped garlic, let them integrate with the onions, open your windows if you are not used to this type of cooking, as the smell will make you cough and sneeze, true story.

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When you notice that everything is well cooked, add the tomatoes, diced; the juices of the tomatoes will put all the flavours together. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste, and half a cup of water. Let it simmer, the salsa isn´t supposed to be runny, you want it thick and with a curry-ish like texture.

I used to put this salsa on nachos or cous-cous, goes amazing with grilled fish and pork, aye, lots of pork.

Ps.  Non related to this culinary post, I do highly recommend this recent article posted on The Economist, titled: “The Feds Ride Out”, which talks about the Mexican government launching this new police force rather than improving the current crime-fighting forces. As said by some analysts, president Enrique Pena Nieto, seems to lack a national security strategy and keeps on denial that Mexico is under control of criminal forces.

http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21613312-mexico-gets-new-police-force-it-needs-new-policing-strategy-feds-ride-out

Credit to: Peter Schrank