Three so-called ‘magical towns’ in Mexico have been accused of poisoning street dogs in order to clean up their image for tourists, a claim that’s rejected by administrators of the towns.
Mineral del Monte and Mineral del Chico in the state of Hidalgo, and Tlalpujahua in Michoacán, all have the prized ‘Pueblo Mágico’ designation.
Inaugurated in 2001, the program aims to promote some of Mexico’s most beautiful towns as alternative tourist destinations to beach resorts.
But in the name of promoting an idealized image to visitors, some towns have allegedly been poisoning dogs—and not just strays but some with owners.
The municipal authorities in Mineral del Chico and Tlalpujahua denied involvement in the poisoning of dogs when they were asked about accusations made by animal-welfare groups; the town council of Mineral del Monte has declined to respond.
Hidalgo state tourism board secretary Eduardo Baños told The Epoch Times there have been instances of canine poisoning in “different municipalities in the state,” while stopping short of blaming municipal authorities.
“To begin with, it should be pointed out that rather than a policy, a series of unfortunate contingencies have arisen in different municipalities in the state.
“We have said on different occasions that these are reprehensible acts which conflict with the image we want to project,” he said.
“We reiterate that the state government doesn’t approve of this type of action and we believe there is a responsibility to face these kinds of problems [with street dog populations], with appropriate education to ensure these living beings are respected and protected.”
As thousands of Central Americans travel north in caravans toward the U.S. border, several of the travellers explained that they’re having trouble getting a job in their home country or that they want a better one.
For that reason, they’re willing to go to great lengths to apply for asylum in the United States.
“People come with the hope of breaking the wall [at the border], and they are going to break it, through faith in God,” said Moises Esu Vidal Sanchez, 24, (pictured above).
He worked as a taxi driver in the Honduran capital of San Pedro Sula, but embarked on the journey to escape personal issues.
“My mother passed away and there is nothing there for me now,” he said.
Traveling with a group of five male friends, he said he was willing to settle in Mexico.
“I like Mexico and I’m pleased to be here,” he said. “Everywhere, there is work—if you search for it, there is work.”
That doesn’t mean, however, he agrees with the United States limiting immigration.
“He [President Donald Trump] has to open the border, so all the world can pass,” Sanchez said.
Miriam Báez Murillo is a rarity in Mexico. The fact that her son was forcibly ‘disappeared’ isn’t rare at all—there are more than 37,000 people on the official register of disappeared persons.
What is rare about Murillo is that she is ‘lucky’ enough to have actually found the remains of her son, José Manuel Herrera Báez, who disappeared at the age of 26 on May 27, 2017.
Criminal gangs, police, and the army, sometimes at the behest of local authorities, have been abducting people with virtual impunity in frightening numbers since the country’s drug war was militarized in 2006.
Murillo is one of the less than one per cent of families of people on the ‘disappeared’ registry who have had the remains of their loved ones found and formally identified.
That’s 340 people, or 0.91 per cent, of the 37,485 on the official list.
Báez disappeared after he was allegedly arrested by municipal police at the home of his girlfriend, in the city of Mazatlán in the northwestern Pacific state of Sinaloa.
His remains were found about six months after he disappeared, in a field outside the city by a ‘colectivo’ on one of their búsquedas, or searches.
There are dozens of such groups across Mexico comprised of kin of the disappeared. They search for their lost family members, they say, while the authorities do nothing.
“The people who find their loved ones in this way, we cannot understand the immensity of it, because we always have hope of finding them alive,” Murillo said, recalling the day she heard her son had been found.
“The sadness is enormous and that’s something we have to cope with.”