Culture

21 Reasons To Appreciate Fluffy And Cool Alpacas On Their Special Day

Alpacas have to be the defining animal of the hipster movement (don’t worry if you can’t tell alpacas and llamas apart, you are not alone and no one will blame you!). You have seen them in accessories, t-shirts, purses, pot-related memes and even as pets

Well, because there is a day for everything, we are celebrating the one and only World Alpaca Day!

1. They are as Latin American as it gets.

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.posts

Alpacas, known scientifically as vicugna pacos, as  are a synonym of Andean culture and are endemic to the mountain ranges of the South American countries of Peru, Bolivia and Chile, although they can also be seen in Ecuador. They have been bred and raised for their fibrous and furry coat for thousands of years by the indigenous people of the region. They still represent a good source of income.

2. Their furry cousins, llamas, are unas chingonas as well.

Credit: Giphy. @anonymous

OK, let’s get something straight. Llamas and Alpacas are not the same. Alpacas are way smaller, for starters, weighting only up to 200 pounds compared to the 500 or 600 that llamas can reach. Llamas are also used as transport and as carriers. 

3. Because alpacacorns.

Credit: Instagram. @strudel_alpaca

Move over bunnycorns and unicorns! The alpacacorn is the ultimate cuteness symbol. Also, if the unicorn has been a symbol of European royalty for decades, we can have our own Latino myth, right?

4. They are just the best meme-ready beasts in the animal kingdom.

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.of.ig

Really, cats on the Internet are so 2005. Alpacas and their cousins llamas are the most expressive beasts on the planet, and millions of digital natives know it. 

5. When life looks down on you alpacas make you go chin up, chest out, be proud.

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.of.ig

Alpacas are like natural serotonin: just looking at them makes us feel all soft inside. Alpacas hold their heads up high and are dignified, like we all want to be!

6. Their folk have travelled the five continents.

Credit: Instagram. @alfie_the_alpaca_in_adelaide

Just look at this mate, Alfie, just chilling in the Australian seaside. Alpacas have been bred in farms far away from their homeland. In Australia and New Zealand, for example, you can stay in farms full of these furry cute little things and have a refreshing holiday. 

7. They have inspired the coziest plush toys ever.

Credit: Instagram. @inkari.alpaca

Can we just drop dead there and sleep for like two days straight?

8. They are game for a road trip.

Credit: Instagram. @matcha.maiden

Alpacas are now being cared for as pets the world over. Just look at this handsome dude just taking it all in, the breeze, the landscape.

9. Because they are amazing muses.

Credit: Instagram. @mifsudvisions

You can’t go wrong painting an alpaca… if you have at least basic artistic skills, of course. 

10. Crochet anyone?

Credit: Instagram. @cutiemestore

We are sure that llamas and alpacas must be the best sold animals on Etsy! There are pins, jewelery, pots and basically all you can imagine. Can’t find it? Make it yourself!

11. They are beautiful beings… so we have to protect them in the wild.

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.of.ig

The Andes have been savaged by decades of industrial distress and mining. Alpacas need to thrive in their own environment so let’s protect it, shall we?

12. Because baby + alpacas = oh my heart!

Credit: Instagram. @ahjoomahan

Ay, Dios mío! Show this to all your tías and they will go “ay mis vidos!”. 

13. Because we can’t thing of a cuter way to keep our hands warm.

Credit: Instagram. @ranbowmountaintravels

That’s one lucky woman!

14. No better way to get your handicraft juices flowing.

Credit: Instagram. @siwooinparis

One of the best ways to destress is to get busy with your hands (not like that, mal pensados!). Draw some inspo from this travel companion and make your own!

15. Because alpacas smooching are the definition of wild love.

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.posts

Seriously, they have better love lives than many of us!

16. Because alpaca coffee mugs: seriously, even el pinche lunes would be better waking up to this face everyday.

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.posts

Take all our money now!

17. Because nothing spells PRIDE like a rainbow alpacacorn.

Credit: Instagram. @kiwiiregalos

Can every Latino Pride Parade make this their official mascot, porfavorcito?

18. Seriously, can we imagine a better wedding photo companion?

Credit: Instagram. @alpakamomente

This photo was taken all the way in Germany, by the way, chavos. 

19. Because they just fit in with furry perritos falderos.

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.of.ig

In a way, these Andean big-eyed cutties are just like big, fluffy companion canines. 

20. They are the best tour guides.

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.posts

Look at this cool Peruvian dude taking all those fresh dollars off gringo tourists. Good on him!

21. And did we mention they look awesome in sunglasses?

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.posts

Yes, we did, but we just can’t get enough of them!

A Photographer Is Capturing New Mexico’s Chicanx Community Through Portraits

Culture

A Photographer Is Capturing New Mexico’s Chicanx Community Through Portraits

Courtesy of Frank Blazquez

Photographer Frank Blazquez is paying a loving homage to Chicanx culture in the Land of Enchantment. The photographer is showing the world what it looks like to be Chicanx in New Mexico to highlight the diversity in a shared experience.

Frank Blazquez wants to show the world what Chicanx culture looks like outside of California.

“I am an Illinois transplant, so I was fascinated, and eventually obsessed, with the differences in my ethnicity’s iconography,” Blazquez says about the inspiration behind his project “Barrios de Nuevo Mexico: Southwest Stories of Vindication.” “For example, in New Mexico, as opposed to the Midwest and East Coast, there is a strong connection to American geography. You’ll see Latinx people with New Mexico state symbols tattooed directly on their faces and skulls. But refreshing similarities such as hairstyle also struck me.”

The other reason Blazquez started to document these lives was because of the devastating and widespread impact of drug addiction.

View this post on Instagram

Sleepy with his Daughter

A post shared by Frank Blazquez (@and_frank13) on

Blazquez admits to once having a drug problem and eventually overcoming those struggles. Some of the people that he photographs are former drug users or others who have sought redemption.

“I started in 2016 just walking around Albuquerque’s Central Avenue in the War Zone earning my street photography badge. When I almost died a couple of times, I started to use my Instagram page more often to set up shoots and contact homies from my former days of opiate abuse,” Blazquez explains. “My friend Emilio created the random handle @and_frank13 and I kept it after he died in 2017 from drug complications; an event that made me work harder to present portraits of New Mexicans demonstrating faces of dignity, hence my project ‘Barrios de Nuevo Mexico: Southwest Stories of Vindication.'”

Photography was a passion for Blazquez that grew into something bigger than him as he learned.

Blazquez’s interest in photography and love of his culture combined to create a photo series celebrating the people in his life. Blazquez turned his lens to the people in his life to capture a beauty he saw in his own community that is often overlooked and ignored.

Blazquez is hoping to show people that Chicanx culture has spread farther than California because of an exodus.

“Homies escaping the three strikes law in California created an exodus in the ’90s that transferred new symbols from organizations, namely 18th Street, Sureños, and Norteños,” Blazquez explains about the Chicanx community in New Mexico. “As New Mexico is an expanse of serene beauty that attracts people to escape from former lives, in turn, symbols were exchanged such as black and gray tattoo and font styles with purist craft structure adhering to Southwest archetypes—fat ass cursive and serif fonts with ornate filigree stems.”

He acknowledges that California is known for its Chicanx and Latinx communities but there is so much more to teach people.

“LA fingers do not represent the millions of brown people outside of California and it certainly does not represent native-born New Mexicans,” Blazquez explains. “I learned the Latinx experience is entirely different in various locations—the California stereotype doesn’t carry itself across America. It’s enlightening to know that brown culture grows and adapts independently.”

The photographer also wants to teach people that the Latino community is vast and diverse.

View this post on Instagram

Homemade New Mexican Tattoos // #dukecity

A post shared by Frank Blazquez (@and_frank13) on

“That the Latin-spectrum in America is not pigeonholed to any sole category,” Blazquez says. “Knowing that the labels Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicanx (a/o), Latinx (a/o), Hispanic, Mexica (not Hispanic nor Latino), Indo-Latino, Afro-Latinx (a/o) are just several of the hundreds of labels available to classify my culture’s diaspora is important.”

“Duke City Diaries” is a mini-series on YouTube that Blazquez has produced to take you deeper into the lives of the people in his photos.

“I knew the profound faces from my 2010’s New Mexico experience would make great art and explain an important POC narrative at the same time,” Blazquez says. “Creating the short YouTube documentary series “Duke City Diaries” was also an offshoot from my portraiture and one that created distinct reception. The hateful and racist comments kept me moving forward to show a larger audience that racism still exists.”

Blazquez is currently working on a new photo series called Mexican Suburbs diving deeper into his themes of Chicanx culture and the opioid crisis.

READ: Photographer Diego Huerta Took An Update Photo Of The Most Beautiful Girl In Mexico

As People Lose Their Jobs, They’re Not Sending Money To Their Families Back Home And It’s Having A Major Impact On Local Communities

Things That Matter

As People Lose Their Jobs, They’re Not Sending Money To Their Families Back Home And It’s Having A Major Impact On Local Communities

Pixabay

As the coronavirus continues its march around the world, economies from Brazil and Mexico to the United States and Colombia have been hit hard. The measures taken by governments to save lives have stalled economies, and are in the process of delivering a global recession. Economic contagion is now spreading as fast as the disease itself.

You don’t have to look any further than the unemployment numbers recorded each week in the United States. They’re at staggering, record-breaking levels. This huge impact on the U.S. economy, and its workers, is having an outsized impact on economies across Latin America as migrants aren’t able to send remittances back home to their families.

As the economic repercussions of the pandemic continue to grow, global remittances from migrants are being hit hard.

The pandemic is hitting jobs and wages in a variety of sectors of the global economy – including economies (like the U.S.) that depend on migrants. A global economic turndown will mean a slowdown in the amount of money these workers send back home to their families and will be crucial in spreading the economic contagion from richer countries to poorer ones.

For 2020, the International Monetary Fund is now predicting that the global economy will shrink by 3% – that’s a difference of trillions of dollars – and it will have trickle down effects on the world’s most vulnerable people.

Undocumented communities are especially vulnerable during economic downturns.

Credit: EqualityNYC / Instagram

Many of those who send remittances often work in the service industry and have been let go or furloughed from their jobs in hotels, restaurants or cleaning companies, without pay. Meanwhile, those who are undocumented cannot apply for unemployment, even though they likely contributed to state unemployment funds and paid taxes.

Even the recent federal stimulus bill – a $2 trillion dollar bill meant to dampen the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic – specifically left out undocumented migrants. It prevents even tax-paying migrants from receiving any federal aid. However, California has partnered with non-profits to become the first state to offer $500 in assistance to undocumented residents.

Remittances are crucial to the economies of poorer countries and help support millions of families.

Credit: @BancomerMX / Twitter

Remittances shelter a large number of poor and vulnerable households, underpinning the survival strategies of over 1 billion people. In 2019, an estimated 200 million people in the global migrant workforce sent home US$715 billion. Of this, it’s estimated US$551 billion supported up to 800 million households living in low- and middle-income countries.

And these families aren’t spending this money on cars and new computers. They’re spending it on everyday subsistence needs including food, medicines, and education. The World Bank projects that within five years, remittances will outstrip overseas aid and foreign direct investment combined, reflecting the extent to which global financial flows have been reshaped by migration.

In fact, global remittances hit record highs in 2018.

Credit: Pixabay

According to the World Bank, global remittances reached a record high in 2018, the last year for which figures are available. The flow of money to Latin America and the Caribbean grew by 10 percent to $88 billion in 2018, mostly due to the strong U.S. economy, where most of the money originates.

In many countries, remittances account for a significant portion of their gross domestic product. In Nicaragua and Guatemala they account for around 12 percent, and in El Salvador and Honduras, around 20 percent.

Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, asked Mexicans in the United States not to stop supporting their relatives back home. He said February set a record in remittances to Mexico.

“Tell your countrymen to not stop sending help to their families in Mexico, who are also going through a difficult situation,” he said at a recent news conference.

Many migrants to the U.S. feel a strong responsibility to send back as much as they can to help their families back home.

Credit: @FamiliesBelongTogether / Twitter

Many immigrants to the U.S. are worried about not being able to send money to their parents, children, or abuelos back home. Many relatives depend on those who have emigrated to the U.S. to pay for electricity, food, medicine, and doctor’s visits. But with many losing their own jobs – money is just too tight for many.

In an interview with NBC News, Lesbia Granados – from Honduras – said what many can relate to, “I am everything to my parents, and it’s my responsibility to take care of them, after they did so much for me.”