Monday, May 25, 2015

Today's Mexico City Headlines: Your money or your . . . phone

La Jornada fronts a stat that’s at first curious, then obvious. Muggers, thieves and other assorted street assailants prefer to take your cell phone than your wallet.  Hence the headline, No. 4 on the front page: “Cell phones most stolen items in the nation: INEGI.”
    According to the National Statistics Institute (the INEGI of the headline), in 2013 there were 9.8 million thefts or robberies of people who were out and about. More than half the time — 57% — it was a cell phone that was taken.
    That comes to 5.6 million cell phone thefts per year in one country. One in six Mexicans on average have a cell lifted each year. Not to mention all the lost ones.
    Can that be right? Seems like an awful lot. But it's in the newspaper so it must be true.
    Why cell phones? The math of the matter is simple. Let’s let Luis Wertman, president of the anti-crime organization Consejo Ciudadano, explain it, as quoted in the article:
    “A (typical) Mexican can be carrying in his or her purse or wallet something between 200 and 500 pesos ($23 to $33 dollars), while the average cost of a cell phone is 2,000 pesos. It can be sold within hours on the black market for up to 1,000 pesos. That gives the criminal a good return on his investment."   
    Presumably, the assailant will take both the cell and the wallet if he can, but these things happen fast. And according to the article, they’re going directly after the phone as the booty of choice.
    So when you see those attractively priced used cell phones on sidewalk stands and open-air markets, you might want to think about where they came from.

It's only words
It was last Tuesday when a secretly recorded telephone chat between Lorenzo Córdova, head of the National Electoral Institute, and the INE’s executive secretary was made public, giving Mexicans the unexpected opportunity to hear what the nation’s top election official sounds like off the record. What he sounded like is a guy who when he's not mocking the indigenous is finding innovative ways to insert the words “güey,” “cabrón” and “no mames” into the conversation. And he wasn't even watching soccer.
    On Sunday, the 11 councilors who make the decisions at the INE called in the press to express their outrage . . . at the fact that a private conversation had been leaked.
    “INE councilors and parties close ranks behind Córdova,” says La Jornada in its lead head. El Universal went for a less personal angle: “Councilors see an offensive against the INE; ‘they’re trying to hurt it.’”
    “They” are not the councilors; it refers to whoever is responsible for the recording. The coming June 7 mid-term election has had its detractors, to put it mildly, and what the election officials fear is that the campaign to sabotage it is taking aim at them.
    In the greater scheme of things, it’s no doubt true that a malevolent invasion of privacy is more worrisome than the INE president sounding like a jerk in private. But the content of the conversation never came up at the presser, where no questions were taken. “Closing ranks” is exactly what’s happening.

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