Previously known as one of the world’s most polluted cities, Mexico City is cleaning up its act, starting with Plan Verde (Green Plan). This 15-year initiative began in 2007, and is backed by the United Nations and the World Bank. Plan Verde aims to set aside approximately 8% of the city’s annual budget for implementing extensive and ambitious initiatives to make the city more environmentally friendly. These initiatives cover many topics of sustainability, but the main focus is on improving air quality and reducing traffic. Environmental awareness has been expanding throughout Mexico as efforts are made to preserve water supply, increase renewable energy production, and protect endangered species. Mexico City is leading the country in its environmental endeavors.
In Mexico’s modernizing capital, the word these days seems to be “keep calm, and marry on,” a nonchalance toward gay marriage that’s slowly catching on across Latin America. Pushing that message, Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera stood witness recently to the mass wedding of 58 lesbian and gay couples, who said their vows in unison.
“This is one more event in … the city of freedoms,” Mancera, who presided over a similar ceremony in July, told the 74 women and 42 men taking the plunge. Mexico’s capital is “a city that is concerned about and working on moving ahead,” he said.
But this city’s left-leaning government has been poking the eyes of Catholic leaders and other cultural conservatives for more than a decade now. Promoting diversity — sexual, political, religious — is official policy here. The Mexican capital in many ways has set the pace of social change across Mexico and the region. Mexico City legalized gay marriage in late 2009. Less than a year later, the country’s Supreme Court ruled that the rest of the nation must recognize those marriages.
It’s called “Eco-bici”, as in “economical bicycle.” It’s a cheap way to get from point A to B but nope, you can’t find it in Los Angeles, at least not yet. Some 2,000 miles to the south, in a city similar in square miles, but three times the population of LA, the eco-bici is thriving in Mexico City. Stations located throughout the city, especially in the financial and business districts of Mexico are growing in popularity especially when compared against other forms of transportation. A subway ride costs 5 pesos (38 cents) but riders say the bike is still a bargain and it’s better for the environment. While the program is still growing in Mexico, some citizens say Los Angeles could learn from Mexico’s program.LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is traveling in Mexico this week, says the program could work in Los Angeles.
Mexico City, capital of one of the world’s biggest drug-trafficking countries, where as many as 80,000 people are estimated to have died in recent years in a war on drugs, could have legal marijuana shops if a leftist party gets its way. Members of the Party of the Democratic Revolution in the Mexico City legislature have presented a bill to create dispensaries to buy legally permitted amounts of the drug – a kind of Dutch-style coffee shop, without the coffee, said Esthela Damián, one of the bill’s sponsors.
Mexico allows people to have as much as 5g of cannabis for personal use, but the bill’s proponents are also pushing to have federal law changed to raise that to a “more realistic” 30g, Ms Damián said. The marijuana shops would be called “safe supply spaces” but users would not be able to smoke their legally acquired drugs on the premises.
Another suspect has been arrested in connection with the mass kidnapping from a Mexico City bar last year, the Federal District Attorney’s Office said. Daniel Martin Ortiz Ruvalcaba was detained for his role in the May 26, 2013, kidnapping of 13 young people from the Heaven bar in Mexico City’s upscale Zona Rosa district, the DA’s office said in a statement.
“With this capture, a total of 22 people have been turned over to judicial authorities in this case,” the DA’s office said, without revealing the date Ortiz was arrested. Kidnapping, murder and other charges have been filed against all the suspects in the case.
Former Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said in an interview with Efe that it was time to “change the ship’s course” because the policies implemented in Mexico over the past 20 years have failed, opening the way for the left to get a real shot at power in 2018. Ebrard, who is in Toronto at the invitation of the Canadian Council for the Americas, or CCA, said he was “absolutely” willing to be the left’s candidate in Mexico’s 2018 presidential election.
A future leftist government in Mexico should follow the example of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, who sent a man to the moon, and set a “great national goal,” focusing on education, health care, tax reform, technological innovation or youth policy, the politician said. Ebrard, who is the leader of one of the factions within the Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, and served as Mexico City’s mayor from 2006 to 2011, said he demonstrated the effectiveness of his policies in the capital.
Water in Mexico City comes out of the tap in a variety of colours (yellow, rusty or earthy tints), flavours (sulphuric, chlorinated or metallic) and textures (muddy or gritty). Water that doesn’t smell, taste or look funky, however, is actually more dangerous, for it can sucker people into believing that it’s drinkable. In general, all those who have other options don’t drink the tap water. The quality of water supplied to buildings here has consistently been ranked at the bottom of any list of world cities. In addition, rusty pipes, mould and old water tanks made from asbestos (prohibited since the 1970s but still used in lower-income buildings) can add harmful substances to the water. Over time, poor quality water can corrode the pipes and eventually cause them to burst.
The demand for water in Mexico City doubles every 20 years, twice as fast as the population growth. For each square metre of new urban construction, 50 gallons of recoverable rainfall are lost each year, while for each acre of land occupied by humans the water that could be destined for more than 3,000 families is lost. With the relentless urbanisation of every part of the Mexico City valley, water is becoming less and less a renewable resource and more and more a scarce commodity.
After many years of largely ignoring the problem, federal deputies approved a people-trafficking law in 2012 that was supposed to spur a nationwide crackdown. So far, however, only Mexico City has responded with any gusto, ratcheting up the number of raids in the name of rescuing victims and arresting traffickers.
“Sexual exploitation is a modern form of slavery,” says Juana Camila Bautista, the head of a special prosecutor’s office set up last May to focus on the issue. “We are doing battle against this horror.” But the new official concern about sex trafficking in the capital has sparked controversy. Some say the raids have left many important traffickers untouched. Instead the authorities have been rounding up prostitutes and accusing them of complicity.
Mexico’s capital is often thought of as a secular bubble inside a Catholic nation. In 2007, city authorities legalized abortion; in 2010, gay marriage was allowed; and next month the city’s lawmakers are poised to rethink its policy on marijuana possession. But as the city inches toward decriminalizing pot, the impact of such a move has major implications that go beyond its nine million residents. Other states, including Morelos, Veracruz, and Oaxaca, could follow Mexico City’s s lead, presenting a challenge to President Enrique Peña Nieto who has argued against the legalization of marijuana as his country continues its war against drug traffickers.
The proposal – which will be submitted to the Mexico City legislative assembly in two weeks, according to the office of the bill’s sponsor – would implicitly legalize up to 40 grams of marijuana, assigning it a legal classification called “zero priority.” The law would send a message to police not to take action if they witness cannabis dealings by any of the city’s estimated 85,000 users.
Tens of thousands of people have marched in Mexico City to protest against constitutional reforms pushed through by President Enrique Pena Nieto to open the oil and gas industry to foreign investment. An estimated 65,000 people gathered for the protest on Friday in the Zocalo – a main square in the capital city – an official at the Secretariat of Public Safety told the AFP news agency.
The march was organised by the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), the leftist opposition to the president’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).