Posts Tagged Mexico


One of my favorite places in D.F. is in Coyoacan, a delegation Northeast of UNAM, approximately 10 minutes by trolebus, from my apartment. At its center, a plaza bursts with vibrant colors. Restaurants, bars, and small shops form two large squares, divided down the middle by a small avenue. Inside these squares, benches, trees and lush shrubs decorate the plaza. On a rainy day like today, water fills the pores on the stone grounds. The wet soil smells of comfort and the surrounding greenery is rich with life.


This place, so different from anything in the US, feels like home. Walking the streets of Coyoacan I see beautifully decorated buildings, each adjacent to the next, an endless array of tones, personality and design. Uniform and disorderly, in their natural state.


At the Coyoacan Market, there are rows and rows of small posts, selling everything from candy, to flowers, to fruit, to toys, meat, and meals ready to eat. At every turn someone pops out of their post to greet you with a smile and ask if there’s anything you’re interested in. There’s a welcoming buzz in the background, of people shopping, locals selling, laughter, and gossip.


Here, I stop by my favorite fruit stand, where the owners know my face and my order almost by heart. The fruit here is sweeter than anything I’ve ever had in the US. My recommendation: Banana, strawberries, guava, figs, papaya, mango, all diced up and topped with honey and granola. I always order just one more thing: 1 liter of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, with just a bit of orange juice for sweetness. It’s heaven and since I arrived in Mexico, Coyoacan has formed an integral part of my routine and the tasty fruit, a daily part of my diet.



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The World Cup v. Mexico’s Energy Reform, 1:0


As previously mentioned, I arrived in Distrito Federal roughly nine months ago in search of an understanding of the newly evolving Judiciary. It was not until the past few days, however, that I got the opportunity to observe a different side of the Mexican Government, its Legislature. With it, have come a few surprises.

This past week saw the beginning of discussions on energy reform initiatives for secondary laws presented by President Enrique Peña Nieto in April 2014. The Mexican Senate designated the job of discussing initiatives affecting 21 secondary laws to the Joint-Commissions on Energy and Legislative Studies. The objective of discussing these laws, some new and some amended, is to provide procedural regulations through which the implementation of the constitutional reform on energy may take place. Up to this point, the phrase “energy reform” might sound like a good thing. For those who might watch mainstream Spanish channels, they might be convinced of this. Unfortunately, this is far from reality. The novelty of President Pena Nieto’s reform is that it breaks the stand taken by President Lazaro Cardenas seventy-six years ago to nationalize Mexico’s oil industry. The reform effectively opens Mexico up to foreign investment, accompanied by exploitation of its land and natural resources, including its increasingly scarce fresh water supply. The biggest threat is what has been termed as “fracking”, a method of extracting natural gas from shale reserves deep in the earth’s subsoil. Invented by U.S. oil and gas giant Halliburton, fracking has spread throughout fifteen U.S. states with numerous “fraccidents” reported, and many vigilant states fighting to keep it out of their towns and away from their water sources.

I have taken the time to watch the Joint-Commissions, and observe, for the first time in my life, how the Mexican Legislature handles itself. I was also interested in watching the country’s primary parties, PRI (center), PAN (right wing), and PRD (left wing), along with others, discuss one of the most important reforms in Mexico’s history. I would never have anticipated what I’d see next.

The discussions began June 10 and quickly it was obvious that there was strife between the parties. On the one hand were PRI and PAN Senators. Holding the majority of votes, they sat smug, calm and collected, not to mention often distracted by their cell phones. I quickly felt put-off by their demeanor and condescending address of the issues. While their PRD counterparts, with the minority of votes, displayed themselves aggressive, wide-eyed and often highly offended. I’d never heard politicians speak so blatantly about the other party, and much less about the laws being discussed. It was an all-out soap-opera drama, live and on-air, and I mean that in a good way. The PRD Senators blamed the PRI and PAN for working together to approve initiatives that open Mexico up to a world of exploitation, to the detriment of the very people they’re suppose to represent.  I was very surprised. I am not one who is very fond of politicians in general, but the PRD members’ candor, their well grounded oppositions, and most importantly their passion for the people they stand to represent, was moving.

In the last few days it has become obvious that PAN and PRI have little, if anything to change, much less discuss with regards to the initiatives proposed by the Executive. The reason for this and the PRD’s reactions became clear in media interviews, where a PAN Senator blatantly admitted PAN and PRI had already reached an 95% agreement on the initiatives, with the Executive, and without the opinion of PRD members. All before even having completed discussions on the first of four debates on the initiatives. In other words, the debate is not a debate. With the majority of votes held by PRI and PAN, they will continue to sit back and carry on with the discussions, but only for procedure’s sake. While PRD members can only carry out their arguments in hope that the Mexican people are watching and listening. Unfortunately, PRD lost the battle to have the discussions held after the World Cup. So chances are the majority of the country will be watching the scoreboard, with few listening to the warnings given by PRD about the dangers that loom with the energy reform. I can’t help but feel extremely disillusioned and disheartened by the discussions in the Joint-Commissions.

Though I am well aware of the corruption issues plaguing this country, the discussions display a level of disregard for the future of the country that leaves me truly astounded. If Mexico’s politicians are so readily available to sell out their country’s oil reserves for economic incentives, how can they be expected to protect the public’s right to it’s most fundamental resource – water?



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Mexico, the environment and water issues

The Mexican environment is a gift from the Mother Nature. The view that the environment provide is infinite, from the snow-capped volcanoes in the southern Valley of Mexico, to the full of cactus deserts commonly seen on Mexican movies, the wild jungles and the heavenly coast areas.

Popocatepetl volcano, the desert of Baja California and the Maya Coast in the Mexican Caribbean.

Popocatepetl volcano, the desert of Baja California and the Maya Coast in the Mexican Caribbean.

Respecting environmental issues, although Mexico is an oil producer and a developing country, it might be surprising that Local Government has manifest its aim to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and had the objective to reduce them to half by 2050. Will they achieve that objective? These days the Energetic Reform is being discussed in a Commission at the Mexican Senate.

The geographical location of the country makes Mexico vulnerable to global warming and these last years, events such as hurricanes, droughts and floods may be attributed to the increase of the sea temperatures.

In addition, while its oil production decreases, Mexico discovers its potential for renewable energy. One-sixth part of its electricity comes from hydroelectric dams and also seeks foreign investment to develop solar energy.

Regarding water conflicts, the South territories of Mexico hold the 70% of the water, however, the North and the Central territories hold the 75% of the population. In total, about 11 million Mexicans (the 10% of the population) have no running water at home, and 15 million are living without sewage systems.

The aquifers in the North and Center are under increasing pressure from the cities, industry and agriculture. The North has suffered several droughts in the last two decades, which had affected agricultural production. And Mexico City turned to water shortages in 2009 due to a shortage record.


A lot of water is wasted. Because of leaks, about the half of the water supplies of the cities is lost. And about the half of the 75% of the country’s supply for agriculture is not used productively.

About the 80% of sewage water is not treated, which together with the waters of agrochemical runoff and large amounts of waste discharged into rivers and lakes, causes the contamination of the three quarters of the surface waters of Mexico (more or less).

The Panuco River tops list of most polluted rivers in the country.

The Panuco River tops list of most polluted rivers in the country.

Much of the sewage water from Mexico City is poured into the Panuco River, which empties into the Gulf of Mexico in Tampico. The Lerma River, which also caters to the capital, receives sewage water and industrial fluids in many other cities on their way to Lake Chapala, the largest natural lake in the country.

Jungles are also important as their conservation is key not only to fight against global warming, but also because they often are the source of water supplies.

The Lacandona Jungle, located in Chiapas.

The Lacandona Jungle, located in Chiapas.

The problems of the Federal District in terms of water supply, wastewater treatment, overcrowding and traffic pollution are reflected on a smaller scale in all rapidly growing cities.

Tourism development involves large-scale problems and threatens fragile ecosystems, especially in Baja California and the Caribbean coast. Due to uncontrolled urban development, new buildings threaten to deplete water resources, increase pollution and destroy wetlands.

Nevertheless, environmental awareness is growing stronger, but still there is no movement on a large scale, but you can find local organizations such as Pronatura, which allocates 100 million MXN to projects regarding climate change, priority species and land conservation.

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Fulbright to Peacebuilder: Transitioning to a new journey in Mexico.

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I write this blog reminiscing about the last nine months I’ve spent in Distrito Federal (D.F.), Mexico. Excited about the upcoming eight weeks as a Peacebuilder and the stories they’ll bring with them.

I’ve been lucky enough to study in D.F. as a Fulbright Fellow, learning about historical human rights reforms from attorneys, scholars, professors, students and activists, from within the Mexican Supreme Court, U.N.A.M., I.T.A.M. and other local institutions. Coming to question and understand what a “human right” means theoretically and in-practice, within the country’s evolving legal structure. As this journey comes to a close, I feel nothing less than inspired and humbled by the people I have met and worked with, not to mention the honor it has been to experience the brilliance of my mentors. As a Fulbright, I was enthralled with the history, substance and procedure of fundamental legal questions. This took place normally behind the doors of a courtroom, classroom, library, or coffee-shop, hardly ever interacting with the human side of human rights.

This blog marks my transition from exploring human rights in theory as a Fulbright, to encountering their human side as a Peacebuilder. What I look forward to the most as a Peacebuilder is having that opportunity to explore the human right to water rights. Coming face to face with how real individuals are affected by a lack of access to this fundamental living block, and sharing it with the world.

Living here has proven an all around life-changing experience. Though I consider myself a hybrid of sorts (educated in the U.S., but raised on Mexican traditions enforced by frequent travel across the border), I never imagined how much more there was to see, live and learn from Mexico. There’s something extraordinary about falling into the ebb and flow of this vibrant city-life, acquainting myself with its lively sounds, the hustle and bustle of its streets, the warmth of its people, its diverse landscapes, not to mention its endless array of culinary offerings.

Using these experiences as an advantage to my time as a Peacebuilder, I look forward to sharing them with you, as well as with my fellow Peacebuilder Ainhoa Martinez, and using them to explore a new side of D.F. and Mexico. I’m profoundly thankful for this unique opportunity to share these stories. Giving a voice to stakeholders may be the only viable chance they receive to spread word of their struggle, a struggle common to many, many more. I hope to make their obstacles heard, their voices come alive and reach you in time to make a difference.

Hasta la proxima!

Twitter: @jsanchez_int
Instagram: jaedaelove


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