May 17, 2013
The Christian Science Monitor, 5/16/2013
Everywhere in Mexico, from the megalopolis of Mexico City to the smallest farming community, the squeaking, creaking sounds of a tortillería churning out corn tortillas can be heard. Corn is the most important staple of the Mexican diet. Corn tortillas of many varieties – white, yellow, blue – figure into every meal of the day. The grain works its way into the national cuisine in endless other ways: The large kernels of hominy corn in rich pozole soup, as the base for spicy tamales, in sweet breads, and in hot, thick atole drinks. It’s native to Mexico, where some 59 indigenous strains of corn exist.
Which is why an emerging debate over whether to allow growers to cultivate genetically modified corn has heated up. Opponents of GMO corn have urged the Mexican government to ban GMO. To draw attention to their cause, on Thursday four local Greenpeace activists climbed a 335-foot monument on Mexico City’s busy Reforma Avenue and dropped a banner reading “No GMO” on the iconic Estela de Luz tower in protest, according to a Greenpeace spokeswoman.
May 15, 2013
Anchorage Daily News, 5/13/2013
Reynalda DeJesus-Martinez will graduate from East Anchorage High School on Tuesday not as a straight A student but as an average student who worked hard for the grades she got in honors classes. For her father, it feels like a miracle all the same. “I feel so happy,” said Lorenzo DeJesus. DeJesus-Martinez and her family are Triqui, the indigenous people of a mountainous swath of Oaxaca, in Southern Mexico.
The region that DeJesus-Martinez grew up in has been wracked with political violence since before her parents were born. As a young child she and her family lived with fear and violence. Each trip to a market or festival meant the chance of being ambushed on roads. When she was 6 years old, her uncle was killed by members of an opposing faction. Her grandfather was killed in political violence when her mother was a small child.
May 13, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 5/12/2013
Mexican students studying to be teachers released a hostage on Wednesday—in the municipality of Nahuatzen—due to concerns about his health. But they continue to hold five others. The students are supported by the Michoacán State Teachers Organization, which warned that the remaining captives, who are state policemen, would be freed only when a demand for 1,200 new teaching jobs is met.
The Mexican standoff, now a week old, is only the latest example of a teacher-union rebellion against recent amendments to the Mexican constitution aimed at improving public education. Institutional Revolutionary Party President Enrique Peña Nieto has made it a priority to fix the broken public-education system. But eager reformers are often tested by politically powerful interests in their first year in office. The teachers believe they can make him back down.
May 3, 2013
Washington Post, 5/3/2013
Calling for an end to “old stereotypes,” President Barack Obama on Friday portrayed Mexico as an emerging nation that is remaking itself and said the U.S.-Mexico relationship should be defined by shared prosperity, not by threats that both countries face. “It’s time to recognize new realities,” he declared.
In a speech to a predominantly student audience, Obama conceded that the root of much violence in Mexico is the demand for drugs in the United States, and acknowledged that most guns used to commit crime in this country come from the U.S. But he said an improving economy is changing Mexico and improving its middle class.
May 2, 2013
Reforma‘s most recent poll reveals that President Obama is viewed favorably amongst most Mexicans–especially those who live in the northern part of the country. Other findings indicate that people under 30 years and Mexicans with a university degree have a positive view of the President of the United States.
April 29, 2013
ABC News/Univision, 4/26/13
A Mexican teachers’ strike that began two months ago turned violent this week, with rebel “maestros” looting, burning and partially destroying the offices of Mexico’s three main political parties in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero state. The looting started after a peaceful march in which teachers had gone to the Guerrero State Assembly to protest a local law, that reinforces the Mexican President’s plans for education reform.
President Enrique Peña Nieto wants to improve Mexico’s weak education system by obliging teachers in Guerrero and elsewhere to take standardized tests in order to keep their jobs. His national education law would also put the government in charge of hiring teachers, a process that is currently controlled by teachers unions.
April 26, 2013
The New York Times, 4/25/13
One of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s signature efforts to shake up the country — a broad plan to overhaul the education system — has run into violent protests that underscore how difficult it may be to carry out, particularly in some volatile states with poor academic performance. Armed with iron rods and rocks, dozens of masked members of the teachers’ union in Guerrero State attacked the local offices of the four major political parties on Wednesday, smashing windows and overturning furniture. They also set fire to the office of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, to which Mr. Peña Nieto belongs.
On Thursday, in a further sign of the growing conflict over education changes, teachers marched down Mexico City’s main boulevard, temporarily closing it down. The education overhaul, which transfers power from the potent teachers’ union to the federal government, proposes periodic teacher evaluations to determine appointments, salaries and dismissals — a major adjustment for workers who are accustomed to buying or inheriting their positions and who have had, until now, virtual immunity from the state.
Click here for pictures and video of the riots.
April 24, 2013
From the 108 nations listed in UNESCO’s reading index, Mexico ranks second to last.
On average, Mexicans read 2.8 books a year, and only 2% of the population has the lifelong habit of reading. This compares Germany where an average of 12 books are read by the average person.
April 24, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 4/23/13
Mexico’s top law enforcement agencies said Tuesday that they were poised to order the removal of a group of masked individuals who have occupied the main administrative building of the national university since Friday. The occupation of the university’s rectory tower is linked to a relatively minor political dispute at one of the campus’ public feeder high schools, yet the incident has struck a nerve at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM by its Spanish acronym, which has an enrollment of more than 330,000 students this year.
Students have gathered outside the rectory to vigorously debate the merits of the building’s occupation. Some argue in support of those inside; others say their right to an education is being infringed.
April 23, 2013
NBC News, 4/22/13
A diminutive robot helped researchers make a substantial discovery during preliminary tests conducted in a tunnel running under the Temple of Quetzalcoatl at the archaeological site of Teotihuacan, the team said Monday.
The team expected to find only one chamber in the last section of the tunnel — but instead, they found three, team leader Sergio Gomez said in a report published by the Mexican newspaper El Universal. The chambers are thought to have been used by Teotihuacan’s rulers roughly 2,000 years ago for royal ceremonies or burials, but they’re so choked with mud and rubble that they haven’t been explored in modern times.