The Mexican Chamber of Deputies approved last Wednesday the extinction of 109 trusts, public money funds managed by a private entity that finance research, cultural or humanitarian aid activities. The economic austerity policies set by the Government assume that the savings of these 68,000 million pesos will serve to face the pandemic and reduce corruption, among other measures. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has insisted that the money will continue to flow to the projects: “We are going to do a review so that it can be known for sure if these people are the ones who should receive this support.” However, the supporters of the maintenance of these funds believe that their extinction will only cause more opacity by passing the management of the aid exclusively to the State. Some of those affected tell how their lives and their jobs will be with the disappearance of aid.
Relatives of the disappeared, Comprehensive Help, Assistance and Repair Fund (FAARI)
GEMMA ANTÚNEZ FLORES
She is 54 years old and has been searching for her missing son in Guerrero for nine years. With the Family in Search collective, María Herrera goes out to find out where she is. Thanks to the fund, she and other women are able to pay for transportation to search sites, the security they need while digging in the dirt, little living for orphans and even the picks and shovels they work with. This shrinking fund (FAARI) had available 678.6 million pesos (32.1 million dollars) in December 2018, the latest data available. “There are many people who have profited from this, we all know it, but we have to do a review and have a cleaning done. They see it from the desk and leave us helpless, ”he says. Flores assures that there are more than 73,600 families that depend on these aid and, with his disappearance, he warns that many young people with missing parents and on the brink of poverty will go “the wrong way.” They have not received anything for four months and it is increasingly difficult to pay for the children’s tortillas and the “cyber” hours for them to study during the pandemic. “If we get sick we have to get money from the reserves for food, we cannot work while we travel to Mexico City to demand that the disappeared appear,” he says.
Culture, Investment Fund and Film Incentives (Fidecine)
MONICA DEL CARMEN
How many movies could you have worked on without these aids? “Nowhere,” says Mónica del Carmen (38 years old, Oaxaca), an actress who has worked in more than 20 film productions and theater plays. This trust, with an amount of 73 million pesos in its last call, has financed almost 300 Mexican film projects. After the continuous cuts in aid to the sector and a pandemic year without being able to shoot, the extinction of this mechanism is already the coup de grace. “That’s where my salary comes from,” says the protagonist of Leap-year, about 60,000 pesos (2,800 dollars) that he charges for two months and that should last him another five, until the next movie. “I organize workshops, I have a business that sells honey, I am coach of actors, I owe 150,000 pesos to the bank. I do not get rich with this, I am not corrupt ”, sentence. The actress explains that to present a project you have to have a concise budget so that a specialized film jury can determine if and how much money is taken. “They say they want to eliminate the intermediaries but it is a lie. Now the filter will be the senators and deputies instead of a judiciously specialist film jury ”, he assures.
Researchers, Science Fund
“We did our best supported by the trust.” “Allows us [el fideicomiso] carry out emergency activities, ”says Cinvestad biotechnologist Beatriz Xoconostle (Mexico City, 57 years old). They developed a rapid detection kit for covid-19 earlier this year. “We presented it in March to the Ministry of Foreign Relations to say that Mexico was prepared [frente al virus]”, account. The production of these kits was such that they ended up exporting them to other countries such as Venezuela and covered the demand of the Institute of Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference, he argues. Xoconostle points out that the export of kits served to give extra income to the laboratories. Now he is working on a test that can determine if a person with respiratory symptoms has covid or just influenza, the arrival of the second disease does not augur a very promising outlook, according to Xoconostle. “This cocktail is going to be very dangerous, it is very important to have a test that decides whether a person should go to a covid area or not, since they are places that have a high degree of contagion,” he says. Right now they are trying to find financing to carry out the initiative, which without the trust is in danger. This scientist is committed to understanding. “We are highly specialized, we work the hours that are necessary, we always walk between books, students, and we do not consider it a sacrifice, it is a pleasure, a passion, our reason for being,” he explains. And he concludes: “I wish they could listen to us and know that we are on the same side.”
Earthquake victims, Natural Disaster Fund (FONDEN)
He lost his parents’ house in the 2017 earthquake. It was then that José Mervyn (35 years old, Oaxaca) discovered that FONDEN existed, which has an amount of 38,163.3 million pesos ($ 1.8 billion) to rebuild infrastructure after a catastrophe of this nature. “With that money we had a starting base to be able to start over,” he says. The Ministry of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development gave an aid of 120,000 pesos for those who lost all of their property. “It is not enough to rebuild the home you have lost but it was enough to lay the foundations.” The money was delivered in cards to spend in specific companies. Even so, there were several irregularities and Mervyn complains that they had to buy material from a few with little room for decision or alternatives. In spite of everything, he argues that this money allowed them to start over, especially in an area constantly threatened by earthquakes. “Last June there was another very strong earthquake and it affected the Oaxaca coast,” he says. Given the disappearance of FONDEN, he adds two questions: Through what mechanism will we be able to access support if there is a destructive earthquake again? How are we going to be able to serve all the people who would lose their properties? “
Threatened journalists, Fund for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists
He began receiving death threats on WhatsApp a month after writing about the stay in a Panama jail of the then governor of Quintana Roo, Roberto Borge. Pedro Canché (50 years old, Quintana Roo) also covered the Mayan protests over rising water in his state and shortly after he spent nine months in prison for a crime of “sabotage.” He considers himself the most threatened journalist in his home state, which justified his entry into the protection mechanism for journalists, nurtured by a trust of almost 130 million pesos (6.1 million dollars) that does not reach to cover all security needs. “The mechanism is paying a panic button. They installed surveillance cameras but they are outdated and do not record license plates. They cannot change them, there is no budget ”, details Canché, who will also not be able to access the armored vehicle they offered him. The journalist estimates that there are at least 700 fellow professionals protected by this mechanism in Mexico, the most dangerous country in the world to practice journalism alongside Syria, according to Reporters Without Borders. Canché acknowledges that the mechanism worked with imperfections, but that despite everything it has protected and supported them. Given the possible disappearance of this trust, the journalist is concerned about being vulnerable to new threats. “López Obrador steals lives, puts them to hell. If it doesn’t work, you have to put alternatives to this mechanism, but here they remove one thing and leave you with nothing. There has been a huge job to protect us and they have taken it. It is putting us in total danger ”, sentence.
Ex-braceros, Social Support Fund for Mexican Migrant Extra-workers.
LUCIO GUTIÉRREZ / GREGORIO NIETO / JOAQUÍN RODRÍGUEZ
The ex-braceros movement has been demanding for decades that the Mexican State return what it owes them. In 2005, the Social Support Fund trust was created for these former migrants, but very few have received the aid, set at 38,000 Mexican pesos (about $ 1,800). Gregorio Nieto (78 years old), Joaquín Rodríguez (79 years old) and Lucio Gutiérrez (89 years old) were part of the Bracero Program, in force between 1942 and 1964, through which almost five million Mexicans legally traveled to the United States to work in the countryside. During that time, 10% of their salary was withheld with the promise of being returned when they returned to Mexico. However, it was not like that, many of them, in fact, did not even know that they were withholding that money. “They didn’t tell us anything, we have a good time fighting this,” says Nieto, while Rodríguez and Gutiérrez say they didn’t know anything either. None of the three have received any compensation, despite the fact that they have the documents of the time that prove that they were working in California for more than 60 years. Mary Puebla, from the Binational Front of Ex Braceros, affirms that only 200,000 of the millions who went to work have benefited. In addition, the compensation of 38,000 pesos that the trust that now disappears does not correspond to the real one, according to the activists, who are based on a UNAM study that states that each bracero is owed 1,096,000 pesos (51,800 dollars). ). In 2018, this group lent its support to López Obrador, who promised them that they would receive the real help they demand, but now the trust disappears, and with it, the only achievement after decades of struggle. One of the coordinators of the Binational Front is Fidel Chávez, his father was a bracero and “thanks to his efforts” he is today an engineer. He thinks that the braceros have never been recognized as they deserve: “It is ingratitude, it is a forgetful attitude on the part of all the authorities, the current ones as well.”