Culture

An 18-Year-Old Just Became The First Indigenous Woman To Win Nayarit Beauty Pageant

Yukaima González is making headlines for becoming the first indigenous woman to be crowned “Queen” of the 2019 Nayarit State Fair. The 18-year-old beauty pageant winner is from La Yesca and is a member of the Wixárika community in the mountainous municipality of Guadalupe Ocotán. The news is notable as, historically, indigenous women haven’t typically participated in past pageants. This year saw two woman with
indigenous background compete with González taking the crown and making history along the way.

An indigenous woman breaking through and winning the crowd is a major moment for this beauty pageant.

@yukaima_gonzalez / Instagram

González being crowned Feria Nayarit queen is something that should be acknowledged and commemorated. Beauty pageants have often been criticized for supporting eurocentric beauty ideals or simply preferring “fairer skinned” contestants. This is a problem that plagues most pageants in the world.

To even participate in the beauty pageant, González had to leave her native community and move to Nayarit. There she began working as a nanny to help her pay for school as she pursues a degree in Physical Culture and Sports at the Autonomous University of Nayarit.

When González first heard about the beauty pageant she knew she had to participate in the pageant to represent her home of La Yesca. Her ethnicity, roots, and culture are a source of pride and would be a huge reason in participating in the contest.

González left a very strong impression on judges during multiple rounds.

Contest judges were blown away by González’s outfit that featured an array of beads, vibrant colors and traditional Wixárika god’s eyes. Her outfit was part of various judging rounds that included a “traditional dress” round and an original social project. González says she would want to provide support to Nayarit’s remote mountain communities by creating various job opportunities through food and self-employment ventures.

This all comes at a time when “Roma” star Yalitza Aparicio, an ingenious woman of Oaxaca, has received both recognition and disparging remarks for her historic role.

@THR / Twitter

Yalitza Aparicio, an Oscar-nominated indigenous woman from Oaxaca, caught fame after playing the main role in Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma”. Unfortunately, she has been mocked and has even received criticism for her talent and her appearance.

Televisa’s Yeka Rosales recently posted photos and videos of herself on social media wearing brown skin paint in an apparent parody of Aparicio.
The move was tone-deaf and is further proof of the negative portrayal that indigenous groups face.

Aparicio has faced racist attacks on social media even from some Mexican actors. However, she also received support among many women in Mexico and the U.S. who have identified with her indigenous roots.

Having two indigenous women participate in the Nayarit beauty pageant is a reflection of what Aparicio has done. She has in some ways opened the door for people of ethnic origin, who before, reflectors hardly recognized. In interviews, González has stated she is a fan of Aparicio and wants represent her culture as she has.

González is an example of this growing celebration of expanding what our collective understanding of what beauty truly is.

@yukaima_gonzalez / Instagram

As well as being crowned Queen of the Nayarit Fair 2019, González will become the face of Nayarit. Her pictures will be the official image of the state and will work with the Ministry of Tourism, as well as having a project to benefit its community.

It’s safe to say González is bringing much needed attention to the countless indigenous communities that are rarely given recognition. She says her pageant victory brings pride back to her community after being shamed for so long.

“In my community, we are losing our [indigenous] language, and residents are ashamed of wearing their traditional clothing,” González told Mexico News Daily. “I’m here so that they’ll feel proud of our roots and who we are.”

Nayarit is an oceanside state located on the west coast of Mexico in the middle of the country.

Nayarit is bordered by the states of Durango, Jalisco, and Sinaloa. The state is a major tourist destination as it is close to the tourist city of Puerto Vallarta. Like most of Mexico, there are beautiful and ancient archeological sites that people can visit when in the area. Nayarit is also home to a number of indigenous groups, like the Wixáritari people of which González is a member.

The Wixáritari people live within the states of Durango, Jalisco, Nayarit, and Zacatecas.

Credit: @almamezcalera / Instagram

The Wixáritari people, also known as the Huichol predominately live in the highlands in Nayarit but do have colonies set up along the coast. They are known for their beautiful and intricate artisanal handwork. They have inhabited the land they live on since before the 16th century and continue to utilize the land and live in a community preserving their history and culture.

Like many indigenous groups in the Americas, the Wixáritari people use peyote for religious cermonies.

Credit: @globalcactussociety / Instagram

Peyote is an important part of many religious ceremonies within American indigenous communities. It is because of its importance that the Mexican government has passed laws that allow for the hallucinogenic plant to be used by these tribes for this purposes.

Mexico is filled with indigenous communities that add to the vibrant fabric of the country. The prominent success of Yalitza Aparicio and Yukaima González show that the country’s identity is deeply rooted in its indigenous past. These same people deserve the same respect when furthering the success of Mexico.

READ: Yalitza Aparicio Didn’t Win The Oscar But Her Fame And Success Are The Real Award

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Brazil’s Remote Indigenous Communities Are At Risk Of Covid-19 After Healthcare Workers Test Positive

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Brazil’s Remote Indigenous Communities Are At Risk Of Covid-19 After Healthcare Workers Test Positive

Michael Dantas / Getty Images

The Coronavirus pandemic has been ravaging Brazilian cities for months. In fact, Brazil is number two in the world when it comes to both deaths and infections. Cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo have struggled to carry on as much of the economy and the health care system has collapsed. Many have attributed these dire conditions as consequences of President Bolsonaro’s failed policies.

Now, Brazil’s remote Indigenous communities are facing a similar crisis – although one that could be even worse thanks to a severe lack of access to medical care. A team of medical workers sent to protect the country’s native populations has actually done the opposite – as more than a thousands workers test positive for the virus and have spread it among remote tribes.

For months, as the Coronavirus tore through Brazil, Indigenous tribes across the vast country have tried to protect themselves by strictly limiting access to their villages. Some have setup armed roadblocks and others have hunkered down in isolated camps.

But it appears that all of that may have been in vain. According to interviews and federal data obtained by The New York Times, the health workers charged by the federal government with protecting the country’s Indigenous populations may be responsible for spreading the disease in several Indigenous communities. More than 1,000 workers with the federal Indigenous health service, known as Sesai, have tested positive for Coronavirus as of early July.

As news of the infections spread across the villages, communities became alarmed. “Many people grabbed some clothes, a hammock and ran into the forest to hide,” said Thoda Kanamari, a leader of the union of Indigenous peoples in the vast territory, home to groups with little contact with the outside world. “But it was too late, everyone was already infected.”

Health workers say they have been plagued by insufficient testing and protective gear. Working without protective equipment or access to enough tests, these workers may have inadvertently endangered the very communities they were trying to help.

Now, news of the region’s first deaths linked to the virus have started to emerge and there’s fear it will get much worse.

Credit: Tarso Sarraf / Getty Images

The remote villages that dot the Amazon region have also started to report their very first deaths linked to Coronavirus. Despite raging out of control in Brazil’s cities, remote Indigenous villages have faired quite well. That’s all beginning to change.

The Amazon region, which Brazil’s government says is home to greatest concentration of isolated Indigenous groups in the world, is now seeing an outbreak of Covid-19 – one that many fear will be hard to stop. Experts fear the new coronavirus could spread rapidly among people with less resistance even to already common diseases and limited access to health care, potentially wiping out some smaller groups.

So far, more than 15,500 Indigenous Brazilians have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus, including at least 10,889 living in protected territories, according to Instituto Socioambiental, an Indigenous rights organization. At least 523 have died.

The alarming news comes as Brazil continues to struggle in its response to the pandemic.

Credit: Michael Dantas / Getty Images

With nearly 2.1 million confirmed cases and more than 80,000 deaths, as of July 22, Brazil’s Covid-19 catastrophe is the world’s second worst, after the United States.

And now an illness that has ravaged major cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo is at risk of spreading unchecked in some of the county’s most vulnerable communities. Health care workers, Indigenous leaders and experts blame major shortcomings that have turned Brazil into a global epicenter of the pandemic.

Robson Santos da Silva, the Army colonel at the head of Sesai, defended the agency’s response during the pandemic, and brushed off criticism as “a lot of disinformation, a lot of politics.”

Complicating the outbreak in Brazil’s remote villages (and even in the large cities) is that tests have been in short supply and often unreliable, which means some doctors and nurses with asymptomatic or undiagnosed cases have traveled to vulnerable communities and worked in them for days.

Criticism of President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic, within Indigenous territories and beyond, is mounting.

Brazil has largely struggled to contain the pandemic thanks to the policies of its populist right-wing president who has denounced the pandemic as nothing more than a “little flu.” Within a couple of months of the initial outbreak, Bolsonaro lost two health ministers – who were physicians – and replaced them with an Army general who has no experience in health care.

And the backlash to Bolsonaro’s failed policies seems to be growing. Early this month, a judge on Brazil’s Supreme Court ordered the government to redouble efforts to shield Indigenous people from the virus by coming up with a comprehensive plan within 30 days and setting up a “situation room” staffed by officials and Indigenous representatives.

More recently, another Supreme Court judge generated consternation in the Bolsonaro administration by warning that the armed forces could be held responsible for a “genocide” over their handling of the pandemic in Indigenous communities.

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Mexico Looks To Ban Beauty Pageants For Contributing To Machismo Attitudes And Violence Against Women

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Mexico Looks To Ban Beauty Pageants For Contributing To Machismo Attitudes And Violence Against Women

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Beauty pageants have long been an integral part of Mexican celebrations – from Carnival to fiestas celebrating a Pueblo’s patron saint, they’re extremely common. However, as violence against women soars to new records across the country, Mexico’s newly formed ‘Gender Equality Commission’ has introduced new measures that would effectively ban beauty pageants.

The commission sees beauty pageants as contributing to gender stereotypes, machismo attitudes, and, in turn, endemic violence against women.

However, many Mexicans have already voiced their strong opposition to the proposed rules and intent to fight back against them.

Mexico’s Gender Equality Commission has announced new rules that would ban beauty pageants in the country.

The Mexican Congress has taken up recommendations that the country move to ban beauty pageants. The new bill, based on recommendations from the Gender Equality Commission, would include new provisions to the general law on Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence.

The commission introduced several new provisions meant to help reduce violence against women, but the one that many Mexicans are talking about is the potential beauty pageant ban – as beauty pageants are a major part of Mexican society.

Members of the commission expressed their objection towards any such form of competition in which beauty or physical appearance of women, girls, or adolescents is evaluated in full or in part based on sexist stereotypes.

“We believe that beauty contests are events which show women through socio-cultural standards and under gender stereotypes as an instrument to maintain the concept of a female body as an object. This limits the personal development of the participants,” the members added.

Under the new guidelines, pageants will not be able to use public resources, official promotion, subsidies and any kind of economic or institutional support for carrying out these kinds of shows. It’s also possible that privately-funded pageants could be subject to the ban.

Mexico has long suffered from gender-based violence but the issue is getting worse year after year.

Credit: Toyo Sarno Jordan / Getty Images

In Mexico, the rallying cry “Ni Una Menos” has been on the tips of everyone’s tongue as violence against women has spiraled out of control in 2020. Before the Coronavirus pandemic forced people to stay home, hundreds of thousands of Mexicans took part in some of the largest protests ever seen across the country, denouncing the growing violence epidemic.

So far, an average of 10 women are killed everyday in Mexico. And 911 calls for domestic violence are up more than 60%, as women are forced to stay home with their abuser.

Meanwhile, the country’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has brushed off the killings as being sensationalized by his opposition to make him look bad. In fact, after news broke of a recent woman’s murder, AMLO was asked about her death at a press conference. However, he told reporters that he did not want to talk about gender-motivated killings of women because he did not want “femicides to distract from the raffle,” referring to a raffle his administration had organized around the sale of the presidential airplane.

The country has a long history of competing in international beauty pageants.

Credit: Miss International Queen

Beauty pageants have been popular in Mexico for several decades and many Mexicans have preformed well at both national and international competitions. So it’s no surprise that many have come out against the announcement and expressed their sadness about the end of pageants.

Several Mexican women have won big at international competitions, including: Vanessa Ponce De Leon (Miss World 2018), Sofia Aragon (2nd Runner Up Miss Universe 2019), and Andrea Toscano (1st Runner Up Miss International 2019).

A Mexican transgender woman also won out over contestants from 21 countries, at Thailands Miss International Queen. Valentina Fluchaire was crowned queen in 2019 at the annual pageant for transgender women in Thailand.

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