Culture

To Celebrate Guelaguetza, Here Are Some Mesmerizing Diego Huerta Photos Of Oaxaca’s Indigenous Peoples

Courtesy of Diego Huerta Studios

Diego Huerta is an Austin-based photographer on a mission to photograph all of the indigenous populations throughout Mexico. His photos are giving people an intimate and sincere look at the lives of the people who have long called Mexico their home. July is a special time in Oaxaca for the indigenous community. The month marks Guelaguetza, a month-long celebration in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca highlighting the indigenous people and their contributions to Mexican culture. In honor of Guelaguetza, here are photos by Huerta taken in Oaxaca showing the vibrant and mesmerizing indigenous community.

Photographer Diego Huerta is capturing the wonder and majesty of Mexico’s indigenous communities.

Courtesy of Diego Huerta Studio

Huerta wants to give people a true sense of what indigenous communities look like. There is something about seeing the communities people talk about instead of just reading about them.

“Nowadays the information that we have about the native peoples in Mexico is only numbers and statistics,” Huerta told mitú. “There’s no photographic documentation of each of the towns, we don’t know where they are, we don’t know how they live, we don’t know how they look.”

Huerta earns the trust of the communities and gets intimate photos that show the beauty within these communities.

Courtesy of Diego Huerta Studios

Huerta doesn’t just walk into these spaces with his camera snapping. The photographer makes his presence and intentions known to earn their trust and the chance to document their existence.

“Whenever I come to an indigenous village, the first thing I do is talk to people, be interested in knowing how they live, be simply a human talking with another human,” Huerta says. “Then I tell them what I do and I ask them to be able to portray them, which in most cases they say yes.”

Huerta has spent years documenting Oaxaca and absorbing the culture in the southern Mexican state.

Courtesy of Diego Huerta Studios

“I have spent six years traveling through Oaxaca, and every year people knew my work more, which made things easier for me because it was the same people who invited me to their villages to portray them,” Huerta says.

As someone who has experienced the incredible celebration of Guelaguetza, Huerta has one thing to say.

Courtesy of Diego Huerta Studios

Guelaguetza is more than a celebration tied to a specific time of year.

“To live the Guelaguetza is to start living,” Huerta proclaims.” There are so many emotions to see the eight regions of the State of Oaxaca gathered in the same place that you don’t need to be Mexican to get excited, it’s simply a wonderful and unique world that’s lived there.”

It is crucial to document and capture images of the indigenous communities for several reasons.

Courtesy of Diego Huerta Studios

Huerta believes that there is value in capturing proof of the indigenous communities to preserve our own history. These are the people who lived on these lands first and are therefore the basis for the people now inhabiting the land.

He wants to make sure that everyone who sees his images understands the greatness of human beings.

Courtesy of Diego Huerta Studios

Huerta explains that getting people to see the greatness of human beings is the main objective of his indigenous photo series. By understanding the greatness of people and the indigenous communities, Huerta says that will lead to us understanding ourselves.

Huerta’s work within Mexico’s indigenous communities has endeared him to the very people he set out to document.

Courtesy of Diego Huerta Studios

“On my last trip to the State of Sonora with the Yaqui people, I felt that I was already part of them,” Huerta recalls. “It was difficult to be accepted but after three years they saw me as someone they trusted and that made me feel very special.”

READ: Diego Huerta Is Capturing The Most Amazing Photos Of Indigenous Mexicans

Judge In Mexico Grants Couple’s Request For Recreational Use Of Cocaine

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Judge In Mexico Grants Couple’s Request For Recreational Use Of Cocaine

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In a historic step toward ending the country’s deadly “war on drugs”, a judge in Mexico has approved the request of two people to legally possess, transport and use cocaine. Víctor Octavio Luna Escobedo, an administrative court judge in Mexico City, made the historic decisions saying “the consumption of cocaine doesn’t put one’s health in great risk, except in the case that it’s used chronically and excessively.”

Mexico United Against Crime (MUCD), a nongovernmental organization filed injunction requests on behalf of the two individuals. It pursued the case with goals to trying to change Mexico’s drug policy. At the core of the organization’s argument is that criminalizing consumers causes even more violence. If the ruling is ratified by a higher court, it would be the first time any cocaine use has been legal in Mexico.

According to Mexico Daily News, the Mexico City judge set a string of stipulations for the unidentified couple in order for them to use the cocaine. This includes regulating the amount they intake to 500 milligrams per day and not working, driving or operating heavy machinery while under the influence of the substance. This also includes not being able to consume cocaine in public, in the presence of children, or even encourage others to consume it.

So is cocaine really legal in Mexico? Here’s what you need to know. 

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

The order by the judge to the country’s health authority has many wondering if one day Mexico could, at some point, legalize cocaine use, but only on a case-by-case basis. As of now, the judge’s ruling must be reviewed by a higher court panel of judges for the case to move forward. 

“We have been working for a safer, more just and peaceful Mexico for years, and with this case we insist on the need to stop criminalizing users of drugs other than marijuana and design better public policies that explore all available options, including the regulation,” Lisa Sanchez, director of MUAC, said in a statement.

The judge wrote in his ruling that the use of cocaine has certain benefits if consumed responsibly. “Ingestion can have various results, including alleviating tension, intensification of perceptions and the desire for new personal and spiritual experiences,” the judge said.

While two people have been allowed to take the drug, there is a bevy of injunctions and court orders that have followed. Which means the judge’s decisions could still be overturned.

Credit: @Vice / Twitter

 Cofepris, Mexico’s national health regulator, is being ordered to authorize the two people to legally possess, transport and use cocaine. But Cofepris says that such authorization is outside its power and has now blocked the court order as a result. The rulings are set to be reviewed by three collegiate court judges that will then set forth the legal standing of judges ruling.

The next step in the decision will be an appeal to the circuit court. This essentially means that the case could land all the way up to Mexico’s Supreme Court. Even if the decision is then upheld, cocaine wouldn’t suddenly become legal in Mexico. While in the U.S., a Supreme Court ruling makes it the law of the land, In Mexico the Supreme Court must hand down similar rulings in at least four other cases.

“This case is about insisting on the need to stop criminalizing users of drugs… and design better public policies that explore all the available options, including regulation,” Sanchez said.

The ruling could be a landmark moment and opportunity for debate in Mexico, where a 15 year-long drug war has taken the lives of many. 

Credit: @standardnews / Twitter

Mexico has become a central battleground and transit point for cocaine being transported to the United States. Trafficking gangs have also grown immensely since 2006 when then-President Felipe Calderón sent in the country’s army to fight drug traffickers. More than 20,000 people have been killed and 40,000 disappeared since then. This year has already been a stark reminder of the deadly drug war as Mexico is on pace to have the most murders on record.

“This case represents another step in the fight to construct alternative drug policies that allow [Mexico] to redirect its security efforts and better address public health,” Sanchez said. “We have spent years working for a more secure, just and peaceful Mexico.” 

READ: This Shipment Of Jalapeños Turned Out To Be One Of The Year’s Biggest Marijuana Bust

This Team Of Synchronized Swimmers With Down Syndrome Were Denied Access To A Pool For Fear Of Contaminating Other Swimmers

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This Team Of Synchronized Swimmers With Down Syndrome Were Denied Access To A Pool For Fear Of Contaminating Other Swimmers

sirenasespeciales / Instagram

Sirenas Especiales (Special Mermaids) is giving girls with Down Syndrome in Mexico a chance to show off their athletic abilities in synchronized swimming. The team and program were organized by Paloma Torres, a former synchronized swimmer from Peru, after she studied educational psychology. Her thesis was on the cognitive benefits of synchronized swimming. With that and a little patience, Sirenas Especiales was born.

Sirenas Especiales is tearing down the stigma and misinformation about people with Down Syndrome.

Credit: sirenasespeciales / Instagram

Coach Paloma Torres knew that people with Down Syndrome are often very creative and flexible. Those two characteristics are perfect for synchronized swimming so she knew that it would be a great idea to get a group of girls together.

However, Torres and Sirenas Especiales immediately faced pushback from local pools in Mexico City because of the girls’ Down Syndrome.

Credit: sirenasespeciales / Instagram

“I had to find a swimming pool where we could organize regular practices. At first, I couldn’t find anywhere. One pool even refused entry to my swimmers, saying that they might contaminate other swimmers! It was really disheartening at first — both for me and for the girls’ parents,” Torres told France24. “Finally, I found the Alberca Olímpica Francisco Márquez pool, which is located in southern Mexico City. I’ve been training the group there since 2011.”

The team overcame the initial mistreatment from local pools and have been competing in national and international competitions.

Credit: sirenasespeciales / Instagram

Their Instagram is filled with photos of the team holding medal from the various competitions they have participated in. They’ve competed all over Mexico and were recently at the PanAm games to cheer on Mexico’s national synchronizing team.

The team continues to grow with more girls and boys wanting to participate in synchronized swimming.

Credit: sirenasespeciales / Instagram

Torres currently trains about 20 swimmers between 14 and 30. There are three boys who are part of the team and 17 girls, according to France24. It seems clear that the swimmers enjoy their chance to show off their own athletic abilities.

The sport is doing more than just giving them something to do.

Este día tan especial Sirenas Especiales darán entrevista en Capital 21 Canal 21 en TV abierta, no se lo pierdan a las 10:35am en VIVO!!!!! FELIZ DÍA MUNDIAL DEL SINDROME DE DOWN Edith Perez Rocio Hernández Martínez Paloma Torres Montserrat Vega Triny Turcio Blanca Olivia Fontes Machado Araceli Vazquez Loredo Beatriz Mendoza Castañón China Li Lourdes Castellanos Daniel Perez Martinez

Posted by Sirenas Especiales on Tuesday, March 21, 2017

This sport helps participants improve their concentration and memory,” Torres told France24. “However, most importantly, this activity helps them integrate socially. They participate regularly in competitions both nationally and internationally, which sometimes include swimmers without disabilities. Our team has won about 50 medals. They become more social and their work is applauded. It’s also important for their families because some of them don’t think that these girls will make something of their lives.”

One thing Sirenas Especiales is doing to changing the narrative around disabilities one synchronized swim at a time.

Credit: Sirenas Especiales / Facebook

The swimmers are showing everyone that you can do anything you set your mind to. There is nothing that can keep them from participating in the sport that they love and enjoy.

Congratulations, swimmers.

We can’t wait to see what you do next.

READ: The Internet Was Having A Collective Sob Fest After A Video Of Young Disabled Man’s Reaction To Getting His First Job Goes Viral

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