Ancient Native American burial site blasted for Trump border wall construction

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Ancient Native American burial site blasted for Trump border wall construction

Crews have been blasting the hillside at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona for sections of the federal government’s barrier.
Gates in the border wall for flooding.

Border wall construction last month up a mountain in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona.Carolyn Van Houten / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

By Erik Ortiz

Red-lettered signs warning of “BLASTING” began appearing over the past week at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a remote desert region in southwestern Arizona bordered by Mexico to the south and a Native American reservation to the east.

Crews have been blasting the hillside while excavators and backhoes clear a path for the towering sections of border wall fast-tracked by the Trump administration — a pace that has environmental groups worried that sacred burial sites and ancestral lands are at risk of being irreversibly harmed.

Laiken Jordahl@LaikenJordahl

BLAST WARNING SIGNALS sign & dead saguaros at Organ Pipe as the Trump administration blows up a sacred mountain for the .

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Since 1976, the 516-square-mile park — home to more than two dozen unique species of cacti and countless wildlife — has been recognized as a UNESCO ecological preserve worth conserving.

“This is a new low even for the Trump administration,” said Laiken Jordahl, a borderlands campaigner for the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity in Arizona who has been documenting the altered landscape.

“They’re moving forward with complete disregard of sacred sites and indigenous sovereignty,” Jordahl said Wednesday.

The controlled blasting, which has taken place in a section of the park known as Monument Hill, is expected to continue intermittently through the end of February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement. The agency added that it will “continue to have an environmental monitor present during these activities as well as on-going clearing activities.”

With this latest spurt in construction, Jordahl and others say they’re concerned with how the federal government has gone about building the wall — without any consultation with the Tohono O’odham Nation, a federally recognized tribe that has land and members on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Trump administration has used federal waivers, including of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, to push the project ahead.

Despite lawsuits trying to halt the government’s actions, Jordahl said the process involving Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument has been made easier precisely because the area is federally controlled land.

“It’s such a sensitive area environmentally, and it’s heartbreaking to see that what’s happening is because the government controls it because it’s so fragile,” he said. “It’s become a true desecration of indigenous land.”

Since last August, crews began replacing already-existing fencing with a steel bollard wall design.

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., whose district includes the tribe’s reservation, toured the area last month and highlighted in a video tweeted Sunday that Monument Hill is a resting place for Apache warriors that once did battle with members of the Tohono O’odham Nation. In addition, activists have shared images on social media of ancient saguaro cactuses, many hundreds of years old, either sawed in half or flattened.

Maxie Adler@maxie_adler

Photos from yesterday of construction in Organ Pipe Cactus NM and the heartbreaking graveyard that’s being left in its tracks. New 30ft wall now stretches almost completely from the base of Monument Hill to just 9 miles east of Quitobaquito Springs..

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Bulldozing is also occurring at the park’s Quitobaquito Springs, a natural source of water for the tribe and near where artifacts and human bone fragments have been found, Grijalva said.

“The Trump Administration is bulldozing through sacred sites to act on a campaign talking point, no matter the cost to the people of Southern Arizona,” the congressman told NBC News in a statement. “This destruction of the cultural heritage of the Tohono O’odham people for the purpose of building a monument to his racist policies is irreparable.”

Grijalva said he is working with the Tohono O’odham Nation to demand the Department of Homeland Security “stop this assault on sacred sites.”

The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The federal waivers it requested last year were vague in describing how many miles are needed and the locations for the border wall project, according to The Associated Press, although the Center for Biological Diversity said it estimates the plans include about 100 miles in Arizona and California along the southern border.

The wall’s construction has become a central theme of President Donald Trump’s immigration policy. During his State of the Union speech earlier this month, he said more than 500 miles of barriers would be up by early next year.

The Tohono O'odham Nation's reservation includes 62 miles of border between Arizona and Mexico.
The Tohono O’odham Nation’s reservation includes 62 miles of border between Arizona and Mexico.Megan Siquieros

His pledge hasn’t come without a fight from property owners opposed to surrendering their lands to the federal government.

Last fall, the administration began a new approach — preparing to go through federal courts for permission to take over private lands. The move followed Trump’s declaration a year ago of a national emergency along the border, a controversial executive action that was done to free up billions of dollars to fund new border wall projects.

The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which borders Mexico for 30 miles, is among the places that have come under scrutiny.

The park was once considered one of the most dangerous in the U.S. and favored by drug smugglers, officials said. In 2002, a park ranger was fatally shot while trying to apprehend two people who were crossing illegally. But with the number of illegal crossings down in recent years, a portion of the park that was once closed to the public was reopened in 2015.

The Tohono O’odham Nation says it is troubled over the future of other sacred sites along the border, including at Las Playas, where a roadway could be built near known ancestral burial grounds containing artifacts dating back some 10,000 years.

Ned Norris Jr., the chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, told The Arizona Republic in January that he wants to see “buffer zones” set up around those sensitive areas.

“How would you feel if someone brought a bulldozer to your family graveyard and started uprooting the graves there?” he asked. “That is the relationship, the significance, that is the impact that we see happening here in that way.”

10 suspected cartel members, 4 police killed in shootout in northern Mexico

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

10 suspected cartel members, 4 police killed in shootout in northern Mexico

Coahuila state Gov. Miguel Riquelme Solis looks at a police vehicle hit during a gunbattle between Mexican security forces and suspected cartel gunmen in Villa Union on Saturday, November 30, 2019.

(CNN)Four police officers and ten suspected cartel members were killed in a gunfight in northeastern Mexico on Saturday, according to a news release from the state government of Coahuila.

The battle broke out between security forces and suspected members of the Cartel of the Northeast in the town of Villa Union, about 40 miles south of the US border town of Eagle Pass, Texas. It lasted about two hours, Mexican Gov. Miguel Angel Riquelme Solis said in a news conference Saturday. Authorities apprehended 14 vehicles with powerful weaponry, he said.
Images from the state government showed a local municipal building and police vehicle riddled with bullet holes.
Criminal groups have long sought to enter the state, Solis said Saturday. “Organized crime, specifically the Cartel del Noreste, tries to get into Coahuila every day at some point, in one of its areas,” he said, adding, “Today they got in by force and with a contingent that is not like anything we have seen in a long time.”
But, “we won’t allow organized crime to come to the area,” he said.
“Many years ago they came in with impunity,” Solis said. “They came into our cities and municipalities and nothing happened. Not nowadays. This was a forceful response.”
The shootout occurred just days after US President Donald Trump said he would designate Mexican cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, adding that the US had offered to “go in and clean it out,” but the Mexican government had “rejected the offer.”
Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Wednesday that the Mexican government was in contact with the US regarding the possible designation, but Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has indicated that he doesn’t want the US to intervene.
Early last month, nine women and children from a Mormon community in Mexico were killed by suspected drug cartels.

Mormon massacre in Mexico: US victims were shot at point-blank range

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK POST)

 

Mormon massacre in Mexico: US victims were shot at point-blank range

Many of the nine women and children killed on a remote stretch of highway in northern Mexico Monday were shot at point-blank range — victims of a targeted assassination that Mexican authorities refuse to allow their American counterparts to investigate, according to high-ranking Mexican and US law enforcement sources.

“They were taken out of their cars and shot,” an American federal investigator told The Post. “It’s kind of disturbing that the FBI has had no access to the crime scene, which is probably a disaster already because the Mexicans have allowed families to remove the bodies. Any evidence that could have been gathered is probably destroyed.”

The Mexican federal official close to the investigation told The Post that the sicarios “shot some of the victims at point-blank range” and that local authorities were still gathering evidence at the scene in Sonora state, some 70 miles from the Arizona border, where the massacre occurred.

The revelations run completely counter to the official accounts the Mexican government put out, which blamed the deaths of three mothers and six young children — including 8-month old twins — on cartel gunmen who mistook the Mormons’ convoy of dark SUVs for a rival drug group’s.

Enlarge ImageAlleged drug trafficker Jose Rodolfo Escajeda
Alleged drug trafficker Jose Rodolfo Escajeda AP

Army chief of staff Hector Mendoza told a press conference that a faction of the Juarez Cartel, La Linea, thought their Los Salazar rivals — in the Sinaloa Cartel, once headed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman — were encroaching. Mendoza said that the two criminal groups had clashed a day before the massacre in the same region. Mendoza said that the attackers even allowed some of the surviving children to go, indicating that “it was not a targeted attack.”

But both sources said Mexican officials were covering up the savage attack’s true targets.

“We’ve been saying all along that the Mexican government just doesn’t want to investigate anything related to drug trafficking,” said the American federal source, adding that officials in Sonora state sought FBI help for the massacre probe but were thwarted by Mexican federal officials.

“They will go to any extreme to cover everything up,” said the US source. “It’s completely corrupt, and it’s only going to get worse.”

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Getty Images

On Saturday, an FBI spokesman offered only this comment when asked if it was being obstructed by Mexican authorities: “The FBI continues to engage with our US government and Mexican law enforcement partners. We have offered assistance and stand ready to assist in the wake of this tragedy.”

Some members of the victims’ families who were part of a tight-knit group of Mormon communities in the neighboring states of Sonora and Chihuahua said they don’t believe the government’s official version of events.

“They [the hitmen] had to know that these were women and children,” said Julian LeBaron in an interview with “El Universal” in Mexico. He told the newspaper that some of the eight children who survived the massacre said that one of the mothers left her truck with her hands up in the air when she was shot and killed.

Christina Marie Langford Johnson, 29, was fatally shot in the chest when she jumped out of her Chevy Suburban and waved at the shooters to try to get them to stop. Before leaving the vehicle, she placed her 7-month-old daughter Faith’s car seat on the SUV’s floor, likely saving the child’s life.

The brave mother was buried on Saturday, her plain pine casket surrounded by members of the Mormon communities and relatives of the extended Le Baron family. Her husband, Tyler Johnson, was seen holding a young boy during the service in LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Enlarge ImageA relative reacts during the burial of Rhonita Miller and her children Howard, Kristal, Titus, and Teana, who were killed by unknown assailants, in LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico
A relative reacts during the burial of Rhonita Miller and her children Howard, Kristal, Titus, and Teana, who were killed by unknown assailants, in LeBaron, Chihuahua, MexicoReuters

The victims, dual US-Mexican citizens, all had links to the prominent LeBaron and Langford families in several small Mormon farming communities that have a long history of violent clashes with local drug traffickers.

“This is a very high-risk zone for confrontations with cartels,” said the Mexican source, adding that both the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels use the remote roads to transport drugs to the Arizona border.

Mormons began settling in the region after 1890 when the US government began to put restrictions on polygamy. The community is fundamentalist but has no leader and is not affiliated with the Church of Latter Day Saints in Utah. Many in the community still practice polygamy.

Enlarge ImageAlthough it’s not yet clear what might have provoked last week’s massacre in which three SUVs traveling in a convoy between Sonora and Chihauhua states were attacked by a hail of bullets and engulfed in flames, the prosperous Mormon farmers and ranchers in the rugged, mountainous region have long been vocal opponents of drug traffickers, and have resisted attempts by the criminal groups to extort them in the past.

In 2009, Julian LeBaron’s older brother, Benjamin, a local farmer and activist founder of a crime-fighting group called SOS Chihuahua in Colonia LeBaron, was killed by traffickers after he led protests over the kidnapping of their 10-year-old brother, Eric, who was being held for $1 million in ransom by local drug traffickers. Colonia LeBaron was founded in 1924.

The family refused to pay the ransom and Eric was eventually released, but Benjamin and a neighbor — Luis Widmar — were killed when 20 heavily armed men invaded the LeBaron home and shot both men dead.

“These are not isolated incidents,” said Julian LeBaron, in a 2010 opinion piece in a Dallas newspaper. “Throughout our nation, countless people have lost their lives or their security in a similar manner, while politics of confusion and volumes of magic words appear to have more sway than reality.”

The massacre has come on the heels of other violent confrontations between traffickers in Mexico, which has already recorded more than 32,000 homicides since December. Last year’s total was 33,341 homicides, most of them related to drug violence, according to Mexico’s Ministry of the Interior.

Last month, an elite group of state police officers on a routine patrol in Culiacan, in northern Mexico, captured one of El Chapo’s sons. But when a fierce gun battle erupted around them, killing two people and injuring 21, security forces released Ovidio Guzman Lopez. Last week, the 30-year-old officer who detained Guzman Lopez, was ambushed and killed in a hail of more than 150 bullets in Culiacan.

Enlarge ImageA woman holds a picture of Mormon anti-crime activist Benjamin LeBaron, left, and his neighbor Luis Widmar, who were killed in 2009
A woman holds a picture of Mormon anti-crime activist Benjamin LeBaron, left, and his neighbor Luis Widmar, who were killed in 2009ASSOCIATED PRESS

Since coming to power last year, Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s security strategy has been to emphasize “hugs not bullets” to combat drug-related violence in the country.

“It was lamentable, painful because children died, but do we want to resolve the problem … by declaring war?” said Lopez Obrador last week in response to the Mormon massacre.

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Mormon family slaughtered by drug cartel in Mexico was targeted

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK POST)

 

Mormon family slaughtered by drug cartel in Mexico was targeted: report

The three moms and six children gunned down by drug cartel thugs in northern Mexico were deliberately targeted, according to a new report.

The ambush on Dawna Ray Langford, Christina Marie Langford Johnson and Rhonita Maria Miller and their 14 kids occurred over several miles in Sonora state on Monday — even after Johnson hopped out to show she wasn’t a threat.

Those details are why sources believe the family — residents of a Mormon community called La Mora founded decades ago by an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — was intentionally targeted, CBS News reported.

Taylor Langford, a nephew of one of the women killed in the attack, agreed.

“Three vehicles with women and children in broad daylight. There was no mistaken identity,” he told the network on Tuesday. “I felt this was in broad daylight and … no one could have done that not knowing what they were doing.”

Authorities are probing whether the family was slaughtered by drug lords who mistook their convoy for enemies — or whether the murders were deliberate.

The moms and six children, including Miller’s 8-month-old twins, were killed in the gunfire, while several other children survived. 

On Tuesday, Mexican authorities announced the arrest of a suspect in connection to their deaths.

Mexico: 9 Mormon women and children were shot and ‘burned alive’ in an ambush

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

9 Mormon women and children were shot and ‘burned alive’ in an ambush near the US-Mexico border

(CNN)Nine members of a Mormon family were killed on the Mexican side of the US-Mexico border, and authorities are investigating whether the attack was the result of mistaken identity.

The slain victims include three women, four small children and two infants, family member Alex LeBaron said from Mexico. He said all nine were dual US-Mexican citizens.
The victims were “all shot while in vehicles while driving,” LeBaron told CNN.
Investigators believe three vehicles traveling between the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua were ambushed by criminal groups Monday evening, Mexican authorities said.
“Women and children (between 14 years old and 10 months) were massacred, burned alive,” LeBaron said. “Mothers were screaming for the fire to stop.”
A vehicle that was carrying a Mormon family living near the Mexico-US border was burned after an attack Monday.

The group was heading from Bavispe, Sonora, to Janos, Chihuahua, said Chihuahua Attorney General Cesar Peniche Espejel.
Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said the attack could have been a case of mistaken identity of “conflicting groups in the area.”

7 injured children are now in the US

The Mormons attacked appear to be members of a fundamentalist sect that is separate from the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an LDS church spokesman said.
“This does sound like a terrible and tragic thing,” spokesman Eric Hawkin told CNN. “As from what I can tell, these were members of a polygamist sect, and not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Seven children injured from the ambush were flown from Mexico to Douglas, Arizona, for transport to Tucson hospitals, LeBaron said.
Sonora state Gov. Claudia Pavlovich Arellano said she was outraged by the attack.
“As a mother I feel angry, scorn and a profound pain for the cowardly events in the mountains between Sonora and Chihuahua,” she tweeted.
“I don’t know what type of monsters would dare to hurt women and children. As governor, you have all my collaboration so that this doesn’t remain unpunished and the responsible parties pay.”
The US State Department is aware of the attack, an agency spokesperson said.
“When a US citizen is missing or passes away overseas, we engage with local officials at multiple levels and provide all appropriate consular assistance,” the spokesperson said.

A region marred by violence

As Mexican authorities grapple with violence in the region, the number of killings keeps soaring.
Last year, Mexico witnessed its highest number of homicides — 33,000. And 2019 is on course to break that record.
Just last month, 13 Mexican police officers were killed in an ambush in the western state of Michoacan.
Now, grief from the latest high-profile massacre has spread across two countries.
Arizona resident Leah Staddon said her relatives were among the victims of Monday’s ambush.
“Their vehicle was on fire and there were bullet holes all throughout it,” Staddon told CNN affiliate KTVK.
“I think a lot of us are just speechless. It’s just horrific.”

Stunning Photos of Mexico’s Natural Landscapes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY  OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

Stunning Photos of Mexico’s Natural Landscapes

When people think of Mexico, they usually jump to the idea of sitting on a pristine beach with a margarita in each hand. While Mexico does indeed have some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, it is by no means all that the country has to offer in terms of natural beauty. From mountains and canyons to lakes and caves, check out these stunning photos of Mexico’s natural landscapes.

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Laguna de Bacalar

Photo of a beautiful blue lagoon
Credit: Elis Blanca/ Shutterstock

Formed by a spring, these crystal-clear waters feature at least seven different shades of blue and green, which change as the day progresses. Though it is often called a lake, it is actually a lagoon with several different channels that feed into the ocean. This stunning location is located in the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula.

These channels provided transportation for pirates and trading companies in the 18th century. So many pirates used these waters that the local government had to build a fort to protect it. The Fuerte de San Felipe was built in 1725 and is now, ironically, home to a museum dedicated to the history of pirates. For those of you who want to get a taste of the pirate life, there are tours available to take you through the routes that the buccaneers once used.

Copper Canyon

Aerial photo of vast Copper Canyon
Credit: jejim/ Shutterstock

Located in northwestern Mexico in the state of Chihuahua, Copper Canyon, or Barrancas del Cobre, is a group of six canyons that form one amazing natural wonder. Copper Canyon gets its name due to the copper/green hue of the mountains.

The best way to see the canyon up close is by train. The Copper Canyon Train rides along 390 miles of track, hugging mountain ridges, going through 86 tunnels, and crossing 39 bridges above the canyon. The line has been in use since 1961 and is still a major freight route in addition to providing visitors unparalleled views of the rocky terrain.

Las Coloradas

Photo of a pink lake next to a white sand beach
Credit: Karliux_/ iStockPhoto

Located on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, these pink (yes, pink) lakes make up the popular Las Coloradas. This area has been used for salt production for thousands of years, dating back to the ancient Mayans. Saltwater from the ocean flows into these shallow lakes where the water evaporates, leaving the salt behind. The high salt content of the water is a haven for brine shrimp and red algae, which create the pink color.

These lakes are very shallow, most not more than a foot deep. Because it is still used for salt production, entering the water is off limits for visitors, but there are tours available that visit a different area where you can wade and float your way through the pink waters.

Nevado de Toluca

Photo of a mountain landscape with a lake
Credit: JessicaPichardo/ iStock

Nevado de Toluca is one of Mexico’s highest peaks and an ancient volcano. If you’re planning on visiting, don’t worry: The volcano is extinct and hasn’t erupted since 1350 BCE. Two lagoons, the sun lagoon and the moon lagoon, sit at the top of the mountain. Snow melt accumulates in the volcano’s craters to form the beautiful, crystal-clear lakes. It’s hard to find a body of water with such a view. But don’t bother with the swimsuit. It gets pretty chilly at the top of the mountain.

Cenotes

Photo of people swimming in a cenote
Credit: Csondy/ iStock

Cenotes are natural swimming holes that are formed when limestone collapses to reveal underground pools. There are over 3,000 cenotes located all over Mexico. The crystal-clear water and unique beauty make them a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike. Most cenotes are free to visit.

Parque Nacional Grutas de Cacahuamilpa

Photo of an underground cve
Credit: Vladimir Korostyshevskiy/ Shutterstock

The park is located in southern Mexico in the state of Guerrero and is home to one of the largest and most complex cave systems in the world. Each year, the Grutas de Cacahuampila attract hundreds of thousands of visitors wanting to explore the cave’s depths and enjoy its natural beauty. It was formed by underground rivers that cut through the limestone to create the massive caverns that we see today. The Grutas de Cacahuampila is a living cave, which means that rivers are still cutting their way through the rock, forming more of the cave each year.

Mexico’s Natural Wonders

Photo of rock formations in the desert
Credit: Jon Manjeot/ Shutterstock

Beaches are only a small fraction of what Mexico has to offer. Whether you enjoy the sand, rugged mountains, or a relaxing swim in a cenote, Mexico’s natural landscapes are sure to impress even the pickiest traveler.

Taco Bell Failed In Mexico — Here’s Why

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

Taco Bell Failed In Mexico — Here’s Why

Taco Bell, the Mexican-inspired restaurant chain, is often mentioned alongside fast food heavyweights such as Burger King and McDonald’s, and it’s what some Americans imagine when they think of Mexican food. Drive through or live in any small town or large city in the United States, and you’re bound to know where the nearest of Taco Bell’s 7,072 restaurants can be found.

But you won’t find a Taco Bell in Mexico.

Taco Bell has tried and failed to bring the eatery to the Mexican market twice since first opening its doors.

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Taco Bell Voted Best Mexican Restaurant in U.S.

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To understand why Taco Bell failed in Mexico it’s best to realize just how loved Taco Bell is in the United States. The fast food chain first found its footing in California in the early 1960s, and since then it has become the nation’s number one taco joint.

According to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll, Taco Bell was voted America’s favorite Mexican restaurant in 2018, beating out competitors like Chipotle and Moe’s Southwest Grill.

It’s only natural for a fast food chain that serves billions of customers to want to bring their food and success to other countries.

Taco Bell Enters the Mexican Market

Credit: Joshua Resnick/ Shutterstock

The people of Mexico weren’t as keen on the Taco Bell brand as their neighbors to the north. Tacos are famously Mexican food. What we call tacos today likely got their name from 18th century silver mines in Mexico when miners used to excavate ore “tacos.” Granted, tortillas filled with ingredients were probably eaten before that time, but, still, tacos are inherently an “authentic” Mexican dish.

With that in mind, it seemed almost sacrilegious for a company like Taco Bell — which was started by an American who first ran hot dog and hamburger stands — to try and bring its Americanized tacos to the country. But that’s exactly what happened in 1992.

The First Taco Bell Attempt in Mexico

Credit: Duplass / Shutterstock

The first Taco Bell in Mexico opened as a food cart in Mexico City in 1992, and the chain had plans to open at another location in the city as well as in Tijuana soon after. Unfortunately, customers were quickly confused when the names of menu items didn’t jive with authentic Mexican counterparts. Taco Bell’s crunchy taco had to be renamed the “Tacostada” because it more closely resembled the Mexican tostada.

The market was so unkind to the fast food brand, and the people so averse to the pseudo-Mexican food, that Taco Bell left the country only two years later.

The Second Taco Bell Attempt in Mexico

Credit: David Tonelson/ Shutterstock

Taco Bell took another stab at opening in Mexico in 2007, but the same stumbling blocks stood in the way. Locals felt like Taco Bell tacos were inauthentic, even though the company rebranded with a clear message that Taco Bell wasn’t trying to be authentic Mexican food. The fast food chain went as far as to include fries and soft-serve ice cream on the menu to sell its Americanized image.

According to the Seattle Times and pop culture historian Carlos Monsiváis, bringing Taco Bell to Mexico was a lot like bringing ice to the Arctic. It just wasn’t necessary.

By 2010, Taco Bell once again closed all of its restaurants in Mexico due to low patronage.

Taco Bell May Never Find a Home in Mexico

Credit: www.eddie-hernandez.com / Shutterstock

It’s easy to see why people in the country aren’t quick to flock to a quick-service chain that’s doesn’t stand up to local standards.

It’s likely that the fast food restaurant will always have trouble finding a home in Mexico, especially when Mexican customers who try the food decry Taco Bell’s folded tostadas (crunchy tacos) as not tacos and ugly.

While Yum! Brands — the company that owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC — isn’t suffering, it does see a decrease in sales year-over-year. Yum! went from making five billion dollars in 2012 to making only two billion in 2018. Chances are the company is always looking for new markets. Mexico, however, doesn’t seem like a market that will work.

3 Great Mexican Destinations Close to the Border

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Great Mexican Destinations Close to the Border

Looking for a quick excursion over the border? Check out these great Mexican destinations that are just a quick passport check await—followed by a drive, train ride, boat trip, or river walk.

Boquillas del Carmen, Coahuila

Credit: VallarieE/iStock

Set on a bend of the Rio Grande with the Sierra del Carmen mountains rising up in the distance is Boquillas del Carmen. If you want an authentic Mexican experience across the border from Texas, then this could be it. Boquillas is a great place to visit on a day trip from vacations in Big Bend National Park. Get your passport checked at the entry point and then follow a dirt track to the riverfront, where oarsmen wait eagerly to row you across the river; it’s walkable when water levels are low.

Then walk or jump on the back of a donkey for the short journey to the dusty village center. You’ll meet local kids keen to hawk trinkets and find handicraft shops selling animal sculptures, embroidered textiles, and quilts. Feast on enchiladas and sip on margaritas and ice-cold beers at the two lively restaurants. With enough time, you could paddle by kayak to the entrance of Boquillas Canyon and discover areas of the Maderas del Carmen biosphere reserve.

Find out what else there is to see and do in Boquillas del Carmen.

Mexicali, Baja California

Credit: gionixxx/iStock

The vibrant capital of Baja California takes its name from the shortening of Mexico and California to create Mexicali, which honors the city’s founders from both sides of the border. Downtown Mexicali has varied attractions such as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, House of Culture performing arts venue, and Plaza de Toros Calafia. The city is home to one of the biggest Chinese communities in Mexico and Asian fare is a big competitor to traditional Mexican dishes. You can even see the La Chinesca basement tunnels where the Chinese immigrants first lived. There’s also a burgeoning craft beer scene alongside the century-old Cervecería Mexicali brewery.

What lies outside of the city limits is often a big lure, too. Hike to hot springs and waterfalls in the Guadalupe Canyon, discover cave paintings and petroglyphs around the dry Laguna Salada, or try sand boarding and off-roading in the undulating Cuervitos Dunes.

Find out what else there is to see and do in Mexicali.

Tijuana, Baja California

Credit: Sherry V Smith/Shutterstock

Some 350 million people legally cross the Mexico-United State border at Tijuana every year, with many coming to enjoy the city’s bars, beaches, and cultural attractions. Boisterous, gritty, and at times cliché, Tijuana is perhaps the ultimate in border-town experiences. Saunter down Avenida Revolution, where art galleries and craft shops line up alongside casual and stylish dining options, liquor stores, and nightclubs. Here, Asian and European cuisine rivals burritos, enchiladas, tacos, and other typical Mexican food.

Over in the Zona Río, Paseo de los Heroes has sculptures of luminaries such as Abraham Lincoln and Cuauhtémoc. The aptly named Plaza Fiesta is the epicenter of a hedonistic nightlife scene and an ever-growing microbrewery culture. Hit the beach at the Playa de Tijuana, a popular spot for surfing, kayaking and oyster shacks. Further south you’ll soon forget the mayhem of the city at the Playas de Rosarito.

Find out what else there is to see and do in Tijuana.

6 Ancient Maya Ruins to Explore

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

6 Ancient Maya Ruins to Explore

The Maya civilization dates back to 2600 BC and lasted over 3,000 years, leaving behind a legacy of amazing agricultural, architectural and scientific achievements. One of the longest lasting pieces of this legacy are the incredible structures and monuments that still exist today. Here are six ancient Maya ruins you can explore. It’s also worth noting that the term “Mayan” is generally used only to refer to the language. “Maya” refers to the people and cultures that make up the complex and diverse indigenous population.

Tikal, Guatemala

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Tikal, thought to be the capital of the Maya civilization, is located deep in the Guatemalan jungle. Because it is centered in such a lush environment and has been unoccupied for centuries, archaeologists estimate that only about 25 percent of the ruins have been uncovered. However, the ruins that have been revealed are stunning. They include six massive temples, some of which are over 200 feet tall. Be prepared for a crowd, however. Despite the location’s remote jungle location, the site draws over 100,000 visitors every year.

Uxmal, Mexico

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This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the Pyramid of the Magician, a massive monument that was built in multiple stages. In fact, Uxmal means “thrice-built” and is a reference to the long process of erecting the pyramid. At the height of its occupancy, Uxmal was the largest population center on the Yucatan Peninsula. It covers over 50 acres, and the pyramid isn’t the only impressive ruin on the premises: The famed Governor’s Palace is larger than a football field and has the largest façade of any structure in pre-Colombian Mesoamerica.

Tulum, Mexico

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Many Maya ruins are deep in the jungle, which makes them hard to access and susceptible to being reclaimed by the vegetation that slowly consumes everything in its path. That is not the case with Tulum, however, which is located on the beautiful Caribbean coastline, about 100 miles south of Cancun, Mexico. Tulum was one of the last large Maya settlements to be built and was constructed as recently as 1200 AD. As a result, the many limestone temples that remain are well-preserved and make an excellent destination to explore.

Xunatunich, Belize

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This often-overlooked ruin, which lies about 70 miles west of Belize City, is well worth the journey. It features six plazas and over 26 structures. This includes the El Castillo of Belize, which is the second-highest structure in Belize. Xunatunich was a civic ceremonial center during an era when 200,000 Maya lived in the area now known as Belize.

Copan, Honduras

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Copan is one of the oldest known cities of the Maya world, having been first occupied in 1500 BC. It is in Honduras near the Guatemalan border and is home to many altars and monoliths. There are five full plazas, one of which, the Hieroglyphic Stairway Plaza, features the longest known Maya inscription, with over 1,800 glyphs.

Chichen Itza, Mexico

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No list of Maya ruins would be complete without Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza is considered one of the seven “New Wonders of the World” and is in the heart of Mexico. Chichen Itza features the famous El Castillo, a 98-foot-high temple built between the 9th and 12th centuries. El Castillo is not only an impressive monument but is a testament to the advanced understanding of astronomy the Maya possessed. The sides of the pyramid are aligned in such a way that during the autumn and spring equinoxes the shadow cast by the mid-afternoon sun creates the appearance of a snake crawling down the side of the structure. Chichen Itza is home to Cenate Segrado, a place of worship and sacrifice for the Maya, and the Great Ball Court, the largest ball court of ancient Mesoamerica.

The Maya weren’t the only civilization to leave behind incredible ruins that you can still explore. Read more from us about the ancient world, from all corners of the globe.

4 Best Countries to Retire In

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

4 Best Countries to Retire In

With great exchange rates, beautiful weather, and locals welcoming of U.S. expats, it’s not surprising these four countries to our south stand out as retirement meccas. One of them, Mexico, is so close and so easy to assimilate to, it makes perfect sense to shift your life and assets south of the border for the golden years. Slightly more exotic and further afield, Central American and South American locales with tropical tendencies and inexpensive living round out the righteous retirement roster.

Ecuador

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Straddling the equator on the west coast of South America, Ecuador is where diverse geographies and ecosystems collide, with the Amazon jungle, Andean highlands, and the wildlife-rich Galápagos Islands all lying within the country’s boundaries. This confluence of land forms equates to excellent weather throughout the entire country, for sunshiny days without the mugginess factor.

The capital, Quito, sits at an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet in the Andean foothills, with a moderate mountain climate most of the year. Quito is renowned for its intact Spanish colonial center, palaces, and churches — along with big-city conveniences. Head down to the coast for warm weather all year. With reasonable beachfront real estate prices and low property taxes, retirees get a lot for their money here. Consider that a home on the Pacific Ocean can be had for $150,000, and that home prices and rental rates in the interior are far less expensive than that. So whether you prefer lush green valleys, ocean views, or mountain village life, Ecuador is a retirement dream.

Mexico

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If you are concerned about how far your Social Security earnings might go after retirement — or if you simply want to retire more extravagantly — Mexico is an obvious choice for life after work. The cost of living is so low that you can, in many places, subsist quite substantially on Social Security alone. Factor in the solid exchange rate, and Mexico just makes sense.

Beyond cost, there is the wonderful culture and climate of our southern neighbor to take into account. Sandwiched between the southern U.S. and Central America, Mexico boasts both Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico beaches for miles. The huge, ecologically diverse country also enjoys desert, mountain, and jungle landscapes throughout its many regions. From small beach towns like Cancun to the metropolis of Mexico City, retirees will find a country steeped in the ancient and the modern. Throughout the country are scattered important archaeological sites such as  Teotihuacán and the Mayan city of Chichén Itzá, along with Spanish colonial-era historic towns. Meanwhile, Mexico City’s trendy shops, world-class museums and gourmet dining display modern Mexico.

Costa Rica

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With pristine coastal beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific shores, Costa Rica is a tropical paradise, yet in contrast its interior is a rugged, rain-forested area studded with volcanoes. Much of the country – about a quarter of it – is protected jungle preserves with thriving biodiversity and wildlife, such as spider monkeys and exotic quetzal birds. Areas humans do inhabit are known for wonderful climate, an incredible cost of living, bargain real estate prices, and quality health care.

The capital is San Jose, where the climate is referred to as “eternal spring,” if that gives you an idea how nice it is year-round. The same is true for the rest of the surrounding Central Valley. Coastal beach towns are hot and dry, but benefit from cooling marine breezes, while the lush landscape in the southern part of the country remains moist and temperate. With such great weather, Costa Rico is perfect for outdoor-loving, active retirees into fishing, golf, horseback riding, hiking, diving, or yoga.

Panama

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Look at it this way: Not only is Panama modern and convenient — with close access back to the U.S. to visit the grand-kids — but it’s also a tropical paradise. Even if you choose to live in the capital, Panama City, amidst the modern hustle, your city park is a tropical rain-forest. Taking up the center of the isthmus linking Central and South America, Panama is famous for its Panama Canal, which was sliced through the center of the country in order to link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, creating an essential and strategic international trade route.

Panama City’s modern skyscrapers, casinos, and nightclubs are juxtaposed with historic colonial buildings, many in the Casco Viejo district. As mentioned, Natural Metropolitan Park is a large patch of rain-forest preserved in the city. With no taxes on income earned outside of Panama, retirees can keep costs low even in metro Panama City. For even more value, head to more remote mountain and beach towns for pretty scenery and peaceful vibes, places such as Coronado, the Pedasi region and Bocas del Toro, among other retirement gems. No wonder Panama ranked at the top of the 2019 Annual Global Retirement Index.

RAMYA SOROOPAM

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