Christopher Landau | The Real Reason for the Border Crisis – The New York Times

Mr. Landau served as U.S. ambassador to Mexico from 2019 to 2021.


Credit…Matt Black for The New York Times

“Once again, a humanitarian crisis is engulfing our southern border, as tens and potentially hundreds of thousands of migrants arrive from Mexico, Central America and around the world in the hope that the Biden administration will let them in and let them stay.

The new administration has certainly given them — and the human smugglers who profit from their journeys — a basis for such hope: The administration declared that it would stop most deportations (a decision since blocked by a Federal District Court), halted construction of the border wall, announced new “priorities” that sharply limit immigration enforcement, stopped expelling unaccompanied minors under health-related authority invoked during the pandemic and began to phase out the Migrant Protection Protocols that helped prevent abuse of our asylum system and end the last surge of family units across the border.

As the most recent U.S. ambassador to Mexico, I am not at all surprised by the border surge: It is a reprise of the humanitarian crisis that engulfed the border shortly after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office in Mexico in December 2018. His administration also came into office pledging to adopt a more “humane” approach toward migration and wound up unleashing an inhumane situation at the border. It was only after President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on cross-border trade that the Mexican government reversed course, and from then on the two countries cooperated closely to reduce the flows of third-country migrants across Mexico.

But the biggest factor driving such flows has gone largely unaddressed: the willingness and ability of American employers to hire untold millions of unauthorized immigrants. The vast majority of the people are coming here for the same reason people have always come here: to work (or to join their families who are here to work).” . . .

Opinion | The Death Cleaner – The New York Times

Video by Louise Monlaü      Ms. Monlaü is a documentary filmmaker.

“Death is Donovan Tavera’s business. For nearly 20 years, Tavera has been a forensic cleaner in Mexico City, providing families of the deceased with the solace of a clean home. For mourning families, his services become integral to their healing process. The short documentary above, filmed before the pandemic, considers what it means to wash away what’s left after someone dies.”

US to Send Millions of Covid-19 Vaccine Doses to Mexico and Canada – The New York Times

“The United States plans to send millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and Canada, the White House said Thursday, a notable step into vaccine diplomacy just as the Biden administration is quietly pressing Mexico to curb the stream of migrants coming to the border.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the United States was planning to share 2.5 million doses of the vaccine with Mexico and 1.5 million with Canada, adding that it was “not finalized yet, but that is our aim.”

Tens of millions of doses of the vaccine have been sitting in American manufacturing sites. While their use has already been authorized in dozens of countries, including Mexico and Canada, the vaccine has not yet been approved by American regulators. Ms. Psaki said the shipments to Mexico and Canada would be essentially be a loan, with the United States receiving doses of AstraZeneca, or other vaccines, in the future.” . . .

She Stalked Her Daughter’s Killers Across Mexico, One by One – By Azam Ahmed – The New York Times

“SAN FERNANDO, Mexico — Miriam Rodríguez clutched a pistol in her purse as she ran past the morning crowds on the bridge to Texas. She stopped every few minutes to catch her breath and study the photo of her next target: the florist.

She had been hunting him for a year, stalking him online, interrogating the criminals he worked with, even befriending unwitting relatives for tips on his whereabouts. Now she finally had one — a widow called to tell her that he was peddling flowers on the border.

Ever since 2014, she had been tracking the people responsible for the kidnapping and murder of her 20-year-old daughter, Karen. Half of them were already in prison, not because the authorities had cracked the case, but because she had pursued them on her own, with a meticulous abandon.

She cut her hair, dyed it and disguised herself as a pollster, a health worker and an election official to get their names and addresses. She invented excuses to meet their families, unsuspecting grandmothers and cousins who gave her details, however small. She wrote everything down and stuffed it into her black computer bag, building her investigation and tracking them down, one by one.”

David Lindsay:  Thank you for an excellent piece of journalism and reporting. I hope this story gets turned into a movie, and it stops before the angry mother, Miriam Rodríguez,  is murdered. It should stop with her last successful arrest, and reveal her murder in before the credits.

Opinion | How Mexico’s Drug Cartels Are Profiting From the Pandemic – By Ioan Grillo – The New York Times


Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Fernando Carranza/Reuters

“MEXICO CITY — The CCTV footage taken just after dawn on June 26 shows a dozen armed men crowded in the back of a truck blocking a road in Mexico City’s wealthy Lomas de Chapultepec district. Minutes later, the gunmen fired over 150 rounds at the armored car of the city’s police chief, Omar García Harfuch. Three people died in the attack, including two of his bodyguards; Mr. García Harfuch survived gunshot wounds in the clavicle, shoulder and knee. “Our Nation has to continue confronting cowardly organized crime,” he tweeted from his hospital bed.

The brazen attack has shaken a city easing out of the coronavirus lockdown. Mr. García Harfuch blamed the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which the Mexican government has targeted in a joint operation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, freezing thousands of bank accounts linked to the gangsters. Striking near the heart of power could be an attempt to make the Mexican government back off as it reels from the pandemic, which has killed more than 30,000, and a plummeting economy.

There is no shortage of losses to mourn in 2020: loved ones dead from Covid-19, jobs, freedom of movement amid lockdowns. But there are winners: certain tech companies and medical suppliers, and drug cartels. As President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico meets with President Trump this week in Washington, they should be looking at the cross-border issues of drug and gun trafficking.”

City Malaise, Cured by a Cloud Forest? – By Wei Tchou – The New York Times


Ms. Tchou is working on a book about her family and the cultural history of ferns.

“I liked Oaxaca as soon as I learned to say its name, all those airy vowels, each subsequent “a” a little fuller in my mouth. Last year, I was in the throes of a deep depression. But reading “Oaxaca Journal,” Oliver Sacks’s account of traveling that Mexican state to study its flora with the New York Fern Society, made me feel dreamy and brave. A flash of wanderlust, my fascination with the fern (which began when I failed at keeping one alive in my tiny Brooklyn studio) and a physical urge to escape the brutal careerism of New York all nudged me into opening my laptop, taking a chance on my savings and booking a one-way ticket to the region.

At the time I flew out, I didn’t know very much about southern Mexico or botany, just that after reading the journal, I wanted to experience the quasi-spiritual journey Dr. Sacks had reported: “Tree ferns, climbing ferns, filmy ferns, shoestring ferns, they are all here, in unparalleled diversity.” Endless gullies of serene maidenhair ferns and giant 15-foot horsetails, long streams filled with Kelly green hornworts — all tucked within the elevated cloud forests of the region, whose shrouds of mist seemed to hold the very healing power of natural wonder that Dr. Sacks, a neurologist and naturalist, loved to praise. At the time he wrote the journal there were 690 species in the state alone.

López Obrador- an Atypical Leftist- Wins Mexico Presidency in Landslide – The New York Times


By Azam Ahmed and Paulina Villegas
July 1, 2018
MEXICO CITY — Riding a wave of populist anger fueled by rampant corruption and violence, the leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected president of Mexico on Sunday, in a landslide victory that upended the nation’s political establishment and handed him a sweeping mandate to reshape the country.

Mr. López Obrador’s victory puts a leftist leader at the helm of Latin America’s second-largest economy for the first time in decades, a prospect that has filled millions of Mexicans with hope — and the nation’s elites with trepidation.

The outcome represents a clear rejection of the status quo in the nation, which for the last quarter century has been defined by a centrist vision and an embrace of globalization that many Mexicans feel has not served them.

via López Obrador, an Atypical Leftist, Wins Mexico Presidency in Landslide – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval at NYT Comments.
Congratulations to Lopez Obrador, the former mayor of Mexico City, for winning the presidency of Mexico. Good luck. This writer was shaken to the core by two depressing but excellent articles in the NYT on Sunday, July 1: “Tracking a Package: the perils and price of Migrant Smuggling”, which told the story of Christopher Cruz who went $12,000 in debt and nearly died getting smuggled into the US, and “Mexican Voting Near, Assassins Thin the Ballot”, which reported that 136 politicians had been assassinated since last fall, for running against the wrong cartel or gang.
I still believe that we have to legalize all the addictive drugs that are popular, to cut down their price, and the huge profits, over $50 Billion per year in just the US, that go to cartels and drug gangs. Legalization worked to disarm the gangs in the US after the end of prohibition, and will work again, though the drug cartels and gangs are more diversified now, and my solution will only slow them down, not stop them from killing and terrorizing for profit. Countries that adopt this idea will have to have serious investment in supports for drug addicts. There will be less easy money to corrupt police, judiciary, and politicians, and legalization might give governments a fighting chance.
Several famous economists from both right and left have written that legalization is the only way to cut these cartels and gangs down to size, including Milton Friedman and Herbert Stein.
All the economists I interviewed at the Univ. of WA in 1990, where I received my MBA, agreed, though they didn’t want to be quoted, since the idea was so unpopular.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs on Drug Wars, and the Environment, at &
Here is the top comment at NYT that I endorsed enthusiastically.
Dannie Otto
Hiroshima, Japan

How can the NYTimes write a 5,000 word profile of Obrador and not once mention that he was a highly successful mayor of Mexico City who left office with an 80% approval rating?

Meanwhile, you take every opportunity to falsely link him with former Venezuela strongman Hugo Chavez. You slur Obrador with an implied linkage, but don’t show any connection at all to Chavez or any other U.N. Democratic strong men.

Responsible journalists would have examined his real history as a politician, including decades within the PRI. He broke with the PRI over entrenched PRI corruption.

Obrador is not a novice politician who burst on the scene as a surprise candidate wielding slogans. He has a track record you could have analyzed as a guide to how he might govern as president.

I am not an expert on Obrador or Mexican politics, but I have read a bit. So far, the most concerning tidbit I have learned is that he hired Rudolph Giuliani to advise Mexico City police. I will grant him a pass on that because at the time Giuliani had not yet sank into the demented demagogue who is a plague on American public life today.

We expect better from the NYTimes.

Dannie Otto

The End of Mexican Democracy? – The New York Times

Mr. López Obrador has promised “a change of regime.” Mexican voters should carefully consider what he means, given the precedents.

To begin with, he has said that he does not believe in the existence of Mexican democracy, though it has been in the context of its rules, institutions and freedoms that he has gained the likelihood of power. Nor does he trust in the National Electoral Institute. After losing the 2006 election by a wafer-thin margin (0.62 percent), he declared the election fraudulent and led his followers in occupying the Paseo de la Reforma, the central artery of Mexico City, an action rejected by the public. Defeated by a larger margin (6.63 percent) in 2012, he again claimed fraud. He has continued to show disdain for the institutions of liberal democracy. “To hell with their institutions,” he famously said in 2006 and has not disavowed his assertion. And he recently accused the Supreme Court of being an instrument of the oligarchy used to dominate the people.

There is a genuine linkage of religious fervor (which it seems just to call messianic) between Mr. López Obrador and his followers. Confident in that connection, he has shown an unbending intolerance toward criticism from the media and intellectuals. He has a disqualifying adjective for every group that doubts or opposes him: “fakes,” “conservatives,” “sellouts.” He has called the press “fifí” (bourgeois). He has proved to be incapable of self-criticism and shows a significant tendency to divide the country between “the people” who support him and all the others, who support “the mafia in power.”

via The End of Mexican Democracy? – The New York Times

It’s Time for an Immigration Enchilada – by Jorge G. Castañeda – NYT

President Trump rescinded Mr. Obama’s DACA policy. He has proposed a four-pillar overhaul of American immigration policy that most Democrats and Latinos in the United States detest. Strangely enough, however, it might benefit Mexico, especially if it is accompanied by additional changes in the issuance of temporary-worker visas, and in particular those known as H-2A and H-2B.

The first pillar of Mr. Trump’s proposal — regularizing the status of the Dreamers and a million other young people who also could qualify for DACA status with a long and winding road to citizenship — works to Mexico’s advantage. Somewhere near 1.5 million of these young people are Mexican; that is roughly one-quarter of all undocumented Mexican citizens in the United States. Granting them the equivalent of amnesty, with the beacon of eventual citizenship, satisfies one of Mexico’s most crucial immigration demands.

via It’s Time for an Immigration Enchilada – The New York Times

In Mexico- Trump’s Bark Has Been Worse Than His Bite – by Ioan Grillo – NYT

But immigration patterns may also change independently of what Mr. Trump does. Mexican migration was decreasing even before Mr. Trump kicked off his campaign. The Pew Research Center estimated last April that the number of undocumented Mexicans living in the United States had dropped from 6.4 million in 2009 to 5.6 million in 2016.

Several factors, including changing demographics in Mexico, may have combined to cause this drop. The average number of children per family here has been decreasing sharply, which means there are fewer people in the work force and less pressure on parents to provide.

While the electrician, Mr. González, was one of eight siblings, he has only one child himself. He makes 250 pesos, or about $13, a day in Mexico, less than the $17 hourly wage he made painting houses on Long Island. But as we stare at the towering Popo volcano, he says he has no plans to return north. “I am my own boss here, I want to build my business,” he told me. “And this is a beautiful place to be.”

Ioan Grillo (@ioangrillo) is the author of “Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields and the New Politics of Latin America” and a contributing opinion writer.

via In Mexico, Trump’s Bark Has Been Worse Than His Bite – The New York Times

Ioan is Welsh and Rumanian version of Jobn, pronouced Yo-Anh.