Culture

Afro-Latinos Continue To Make Huge Impacts On Global Politics

World history books do not always include large sections to detail the accomplishments of Afro-Latinos across North America, South America, and the Caribbean. So many Afro-Latinos have thrown their hats in the rings and led their countries through difficult moments and elevated the political discourse needed to push contries forward.

Cecilia Tait

Olympic silver medalist at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, Cecilia Tait became a champion off the volleyball court as well in her native Peru when she entered politics 10 years later. After dipping her toes in local politics, she eventually became the first Afro-Peruvian elected to the country’s Congress.

María Isabel Urrutia

Another Afro-Latina Olympic medalist from South America who went into politics once retiring from sports is Colombian María Isabel Urrutia. She won her country’s first Olympic gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympic Games and then transferred into politics, holding a seat in the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia.

Julio Pinedo

In 2007, Julio Pinedo, a direct descendant of African slaves in Bolivia, was officially recognized by La Paz as ceremonious king of his Afro-Bolivian community. 

“He is a symbolic figure,” Spanish photographer Susana Giron told the New York Times in 2015. “For the Afro-Bolivians, he is important because he gives them a cultural identity. It shows they are a people descended from Africa. It is about their history and culture.”

Benedita da Silva

After Brazil’s military dictatorship ended, black Brazilians started to gain prominence in politics. One such example is Benedita da Silva, Brazil’s first female senator. Her resilient attitude was honed throughout her life, including when she received her high school diploma at the age of 40 and went to college at the same time her daughter was studying.

Her political resume includes becoming a senator, as well as the first Afro-Brazilian governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro, and Minister of the Secretary of State. 

She is also a fierce advocate for women’s rights in Latin America.

Paula Marcela Moreno Zapat

Paula Marcela Moreno Zapat is a Colombian politician, engineer and college professor. She was appointed in 2007 to serve as Colombia’s Minister of Culture, thus becoming the first Afro-Colombian woman to hold a cabinet position in her country, also the youngest. As part of her work as Minister of Culture, she has put Colombia’s name on the map, literally. She has acquired spots for her home country to exhibit at book fairs, film festivals, concerts, and conferences around the world.

Luis Gilberto Murillo

Another Afro-Colombian engineer who had a successful career in politics is Luis Gilberto Murillo. 

In 1998, Murrillo won the governorship for the state of Chocó, becoming one of the youngest people to do so. However, he was stripped from his governorship in 1999 due to what some newspapers and residents called a controversial court ruling.

Murrillo was kidnapped in 2000 in Colombia and after being released a few hours later, he fled the country with his family. He returned in 2011 after mostly working in Washington D.C. and continued to work in politics, most recently as the former minister of Environment and Sustainable Development in Colombia. 

He continues to be outspoken for issues on environmental sustainability and has not let the bumps along the road deter him from fighting for causes he is passionate about.

Pío Pico

Alta California’s final governor under Mexican rule was Afro-Mexican rancher and politician Pío de Jesús Pico. He served twice as governor and once he gained U.S. citizenship, was asked to be part of the Los Angeles Common Council, although he did not assume the office. If you’re in Los Angeles, you might recognize him as the namesake of Pico Boulevard. 

READ: Latino Politicians Sound Off Over Tom Brokaw Saying Latinos Need To Be Better At Assimilating In The US

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Congresswoman Norma Torres Is In A Twitter Feud With El Salvador’s President And Neither One Is Backing Down

Things That Matter

Congresswoman Norma Torres Is In A Twitter Feud With El Salvador’s President And Neither One Is Backing Down

Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA) has been one of the most outspoken critics on the root causes of migration to the United States, calling out corruption and neglect from Central American nations.

The Guatemala-born Congresswoman said the issue stemmed from failing to address the root causes of immigration in the Northern Triangle. While she claimed that the Obama administration made strides in Central American intervention (years later, it has little to show for), she did address the many reasons why people from the region made the difficult decision to leave their countries. 

“The poverty we see here in our own communities, you know, in comparison to the poverty that has been caused by climate change issues, severe droughts in the region, the fact that there is no infrastructure for the indigenous populations,” Torres told NPR in 2019

She continues to lay blame on those same nations and she’s making some apparent enemies in the process, including El Salvador’s president Nayib Bukele who has been engaged in a bit of a Twitter feud with the congresswoman.

The California congresswoman is feeling the heat from El Salvador’s president.

President Nayib Bukele and Democratic Rep. Norma Torres have been exchanging very undiplomatic barbs on Twitter for the last few weeks. And now, El Salvador’s president is urging voters in a California congressional district to vote out its U.S. representative in the latest back-and-forth spat between the Central American head of state and one of Congress’ most vocal critics of the region’s leaders.

Torres, who was born in Guatemala, took the first show when she retweeted a disturbing video released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection showing two toddler sisters being dropped into the U.S. by smugglers straddling a 14-foot-tall border wall. The two were picked up by U.S. agents and given medical attention.

Along with a link to the video, Torres tweeted — in Spanish — that the incident is “a great shame for the governments of #Guatemala #Honduras #ElSalvador their compatriots deserve governments that are truly committed to fighting corruption and narco[trafficking]!”

Well, her tweet didn’t sit well with the president.

El Salvador’s Bukele, an avid Twitter user, hit back fast with his own Spanish-language tweet. “Look ma’am, did you read that the children are from ECUADOR and not from EL SALVADOR? Also, this happened on the border of Mexico with the United States. What does El Salvador have to do with this?”

The Salvadoran president then told Torres that she should buy some glasses with a portion of her “financier’s checks.”

But Bukele, at 39 the youngest president in Latin America, is extremely popular. He is often seen wearing a backward baseball cap and sports clothes, and his Nuevas Ideas (New Ideas) party won big in last month’s legislative elections, taking control of the national legislature.

Torres, one of Bukele’s leading critics, kept up the tweet for tweet — this time in English — calling the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border the result of “narcissistic dictators like you interested in being ‘cool’ while people flee by the 1000s & die by the 100s.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Women Are Marching In The Dominican Republic As Part Of A Green Wave To End The Country’s Total Abortion Ban

Fierce

Women Are Marching In The Dominican Republic As Part Of A Green Wave To End The Country’s Total Abortion Ban

For years now, women across Latin America have been fighting for their rights. In too many countries women are literally fighting for their safety and lives, not to mention access to equal pay, education, and safe and legal abortion.

Recently, these activists have started to see victories pop up across the region in what many are calling a green wave. With Argentina having legalized abortion late last year, many are hoping that the momentum will carry over into other countries.

Dominican feminists are demanding an end to the nation’s total abortion ban.

The Dominican Republic’s current penal code (which penalizes abortions) dates all the way back to 1884. It should go without saying that the time to update these archaic laws is long overdue.

The group of feminists use the hashtag #Las3CausalesVan and wear green, representing the latest in a green wave of reproductive rights that has spread across Latin America and the Caribbean.

“We are manifesting in front of Congress to demand respect to the life, health and dignity of women, emphasizing the inclusion of the three causals in the penal code,” Saray Figuereo, one of the activists involved in the movement, told the APP. “And we won’t let them make up an excuse that they’ll include them in a special law.”

The movement for the “Las 3 causales” (3 “causals” or “grounds/circumstances” in English) demands the approval of abortion in three extreme cases:

  1. When the pregnancy is a byproduct of a rape or incest
  2. When it represents a risk for the woman (or girl)
  3. When the fetus is nonviable

It’s the first time in generations that there is hope to update the country’s laws.

In 2020, the Dominican Republic held a historic election where Luis Abinader of the Modern Revolutionary Party won the presidential elections—the first time an opposing party won after a 16-year rule by the Party for Dominican Liberation.

In an interview with El País, he said, “Look, I disagree, as does the majority of the population, not only in the Dominican Republic but in the world, with free abortion, but I do think that there must be causals that allow the interruption of pregnancy. That has been the official position of our party.”

Reproductive rights in the Dominican Republic have long been an ongoing issue. The ratio of maternal mortality in the country is 150 per 100,000 births, higher than the average of 100 in Latin America.

“It’s been over 25 years fighting for this and all the lives that we keep losing, especially marginalized lives that are not even valuable enough for the media and the press to cover them, because the erasure of these voices is constant in the Dominican Republic,” activist Gina M. Goico told the AP.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com