Mexican authorities said on Saturday they were investigating the deaths of 12 men, whose bodies were found with signs of gunshot wounds, inside a stolen pickup truck abandoned in the violent western state of Michoacan.
Cartels have been clashing over territory in the region known as Tierra Caliente, Spanish for “Hot Land,” that contains some areas of the states of the neighbouring states Michoacan, Guerrero and Mexico State.
Michoacan State’s Attorney General said in a statement the men, who have not yet been identified, were found in the municipality of San Lucas that the three states border.
The pickup was reported stolen last year in Mexico City, authorities said.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Some of the top creative minds at Mexican broadcaster, Televisa, are puzzling over an unexpected challenge: crafting their signature soap operas without a single love scene, or even a tender kiss.
As cases of coronavirus mounted in Mexico, producers were forced to scratch physical contact from their typically steamy telenovelas. Then the cameras stopped rolling altogether.
“We follow the motto: The show must go on,” said producer Lucero Suarez, who halted production of her hit “Te Doy La Vida” (“I Give You Life”) in March.
“Never in my life have we stopped a novela.”
After decades of keeping viewers on the edge of their seats with its high-octane soap operas, Mexico’s largest broadcaster is facing a cliffhanger of its own.
When will Televisa’s army of producers, actors and actresses return to the set? Even the company’s top executives can’t say for sure.
Like its Hollywood peers, Grupo Televisa was forced to suspend production of series and novelas – the soaps that typically air daily episodes during the week – to avoid spreading coronavirus among cast and production crews.
The broadcaster hopes to resume filming in late May or early June, albeit with fewer moments of passion.
Televisa’s shares have slumped 78 per cent over the past five years amid anemic earnings growth.
More recently, advertising has waned as the federal government and companies make cuts.
Streaming giants such as Netflix Inc and Amazon.com Inc have also made a run for an audience that Televisa long had almost to itself.
Like all broadcasters and media companies that rely on advertising income, the coronavirus has further complicated Televisa’s fortunes, analysts say.
“On the one hand, with everyone staying home, ratings are through the roof,” said Gilberto Garcia, an analyst with Barclays.
“On the other hand, given that everybody has to stay in, advertisers are very much cutting back on their budgets.”
With more people staying inside, Televisa’s audience in Mexico has risen 19 per cent over the past three weeks, a spokesman said.
Novelas, which dominate the primetime lineup, are crucial to the equation.
The company’s stash of fresh content should last well into the summer, Co-Chief Executive Alfonso de Angoitia said on an earnings call last week.
Televisa’s unit providing cable TV and broadband has become its biggest moneymaker.
Yet content still accounts for 27 per cent of net sales and could become even more vital as growth in the cable unit slows, Garcia said.
For decades, Televisa profited handsomely from low-budget novelas that dominated Mexican airwaves and were successfully exported to far-flung markets overseas, too.
The broadcaster still holds a commanding lead in Mexican ratings, but in recent years it has lost viewers to streaming services that have invested heavily in Latin America and hooked audiences with flashy dramas such as Netflix’s Spanish thriller “Money Heist”.
Televisa has an admirable record of holding novelas to their production schedules in the past, even after a devastating earthquake struck Mexico City in 1985.
Strikes that occasionally delay filming in Hollywood have been virtually unheard of.
At least two of its shows have been disrupted by the coronavirus, however. Crime drama “Imperio de Mentiras” (“Empire of Lies”) was only able to complete about 20 per cent of filming before production ground to a halt.
Once scheduled to debut in late April, its premier has been pushed back to the summer.
Suarez’s show, “Te Doy la Vida,” is focused on a love triangle involving the adoptive and biological parents of a boy with leukemia and debuted in March to strong ratings.
As cases of coronavirus rose in Mexico, Suarez and her team ramped up production, tacking on an additional day of filming on Saturdays.
With the finale tantalisingly close, Suarez said she was tempted to press on. But as her team grew more nervous, she halted production.
In the last stretch, scenes were filmed with social distancing measures – no hugs, kisses or other physical contact between cast members.
At times, actors struggled to channel their characters’ emotions within the new rules of the game. Cesar Evora, a Televisa veteran of roughly 27 years, recalled filming a wake in which characters gathered to mourn without ever embracing.
“It was pretty surreal,” he said.
Suarez has churned out hit novelas for decades, soldiering on through injuries to her leading men and other unforeseen obstacles.
She is nervous about navigating the return to the set, fearing it will be like “starting over”.
Most vexing of all could be the love scenes.
But Suarez said she has already reworked some, opting to show the moments just after passion, such as one character touching up her appearance at the vanity while the other lounges in bed.
“You get the idea,” said Suarez, who spoke with Reuters by phone last week.
She noted she had taken to watching a lot of Turkish soaps, which have borrowed Televisa’s formula with great success, though intimacy is only implied.
“If my last scene is not a kiss … we will make do,” Suarez said.
“Sometimes you can convey love with just a glance.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)
Mexico on Friday marked the Day of the Dead, an annual festival filled with colour and joy during which families welcome back the souls of the departed.
“We must not forget our traditions,’’ President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said before inaugurating an altar filled with flowers and skulls in Constitution Square in central Mexico City.
The president and Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum were welcomed by dozens of people disguised as elegant skeletons.
The women wore long black or colourful dresses, some adorned with fancy collars and purple flowers, and the men, tail suits and top hats, with skulls painted on their faces.
The Day of the Dead, which forms part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, combines pre-Hispanic and Christian elements.
On Nov. 1, the souls of dead children are believed to return to the earth to visit their families, and the souls of adults, on Nov 2.
Families visit cemeteries where they eat, drink and sing at the tombs of their loved ones, placing offerings such as candles and food both on the graves and on altars in their homes.
“A musician must have no barriers’’ between life and death, said Jose Alfredo Jimenez Silva, a musician who makes a hefty sum by singing at Mexico City’s biggest cemetery on the Day of the Dead.
“You need to really love what you do to be able to sing to a dead person,’’ he told dpa.
Meanwhile, Mexico City was preparing the main parade of the Day of the Dead, which will feature 2,500 artists, 11 carriages and gigantic cardboard skeletons.
Two million people are expected to come to watch the parade on Oct 2.
Edited by Halima Sheji/Felix Ajide
Edited by Halima Sheji/Felix Ajide
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, on Friday said that Mexican soldiers have released the son of jailed drug boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman after his arrest sparked gun battles in Culiacan in the north-west.
“The situation became very difficult and many citizens were at risk,’’ Lopez Obrador said at a news conference in Oaxaca in the south of the country.
“The capture of a criminal cannot be worth more than people’s lives,’’ he added.
Ovidio Guzman Lopez was identified in a residential building which was being used to shoot at soldiers on patrol, Security Minister Alfredo Durazo said earlier.
Several groups of organised criminals then surrounded the house, forcing security forces to abandon their position because they were outnumbered, the minister added.
Edited by Halima Sheji/Ismail Abdulaziz
Mexican President Andres Lopez-Obrador on Wednesday thanked U.S. President Donald Trump for his “willingness to dialogue” after Washington acknowledged Mexico’s efforts to curb migration and the threat of punitive tariffs appeared to fade.
A meeting in Washington on Tuesday between U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard had been “very successful,” Lopez-Obrador said at his daily news conference.
He said he was grateful for Trump’s “willingness to dialogue and his will for there to be an understanding on the subject of migration and on what has to do with trade relations.”
Trump tweeted after the meeting that “incredible progress” had been made since Mexico agreed in June to reduce the number of Central American migrants crossing its territory to the U.S.
Washington had threatened to impose tariffs on Mexican imports. Mexico was given 90 days to show progress.
Mexico subsequently deployed 25,000 troops on its northern and southern borders.
The number of migrants apprehended by U.S. law enforcement decreased to 64,000 people in August from 144,000 people in May, according to U.S. data.
However, Pence and Ebrard agreed that “more work remains’’ to be done, according to Pence’s office.
The possibility of new punitive tariffs was not discussed at the meeting, Ebrard said afterwards, because the reduction in the number of migrants was now “a permanent trend.”
Lopez-Obrador urged the U.S. and Canada to ratify the new free trade deal between them and Mexico, which will replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The deal, which was signed in November, has been ratified only by Mexico.
The two other countries should also ratify it before Canada holds federal elections in October and Trump seeks re-election next year, Lopez Obrador said.
“Hopefully it is done soon because, since there are electoral processes coming up, we don’t want this matter to get entangled in the natural disagreements that occur when there are elections,” he said.
Edited by Fatima Sule/Felix Ajide
Trump: U.S. plans tariff on Mexican cars if no help on immigration, drugs
Trump made the threat on Thursday at the White House, saying that if the tariffs do not yield the desired result, he will close the border.
“If the drugs don’t stop we are going to tariff the cars,’’ Trump said.
“If that doesn’t work we will close the border.’’
Trump insisted: “You know I will do it, I don’t play games.’’
He further said that a lot of good things are happening with Mexico.
“Mexico understands that we will close the border or I’m going to tariffs the cars.
“One or the other, probably start off with the tariffs.
“That will be a powerful incentive, because Mexico has the strongest immigration laws anywhere in the world.