Culture

In Mexico, Feminist Activists Honored Victims of Femicide by Marching During What they Called “Día de Muertas”

On November 3rd, while many Mexicans were winding down from their Dia de Muertos celebrations, a group of activists in the city center were just getting started. Faces painted up as Calavera Catrinas, donning purple crosses and hand-painted signs, this group of people took to the Mexico City streets with one goal in mind: to raise awareness about the scourge of femicide that is sweeping their country, and Latin America in general.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, femicide is defined as “the killing of a woman or girl, in particular by a man and on account of her gender”. In 58% of cases, women are murdered by a romantic partner or a family member. Most of the time, the relationship has been a physically abusive one. In Mexico, gender-based murders have become so common and so consistently under-prosecuted that the families and friends of murdered women no longer feel that they can stand by in silence.

Credit: @PublimetroMX/Twitter

The Dia de Muertas march was coordinated by the organization Voices of Absence, which was founded in order to bring awareness to the plague of femicide in Latin America, and especially Mexico. 

During the march, people gathered holding signs of their murdered daughters, friends, sisters, and loved ones. They chanted the phrase “not one more”, referring to the hope that they would prevent more deaths caused by gender-based violence. According to the office of Mexico’s Attorney General, 2019 is on track to become the second-most lethal year for women in Mexico since 1990, with 2,735 women being killed via homicide. This statistic is more than double the number of deaths recorded a decade ago.

Although Mexico has visibly taken steps to fixing the epidemic of gender-based murders that has taken over the nation ( like by signing the Spotlight Initiative, an EU- and U.N.-sponsored mission to eliminate gender-based violence on women and girls), the protesters also believe that more action needs to be taken. “[These women] did not die of old age or from illness,” said activist and journalist Frida Guerrera, a self-described “chronicler of femicide” throughout Mexico. “They were snatched away, they were ripped from their families, and we want them to be seen”.

Credit: @Lubruixa/Twitter

The protesters were hoping that the demonstration might spur the government into ending impunity for this pervasive crime in Mexico.

Unfortunately, in Latin America, most men don’t face punishment for the murder of women, with a shocking 98% of these gender-based killings reportedly going unprosecuted. According to the United Nations Office of Human Rights, the failure to investigate these murders is due to “underlying societal beliefs about the inferiority of women” in Latin America, which have “created a culture of discrimination within law enforcement and judicial institutions” that result in “negligent investigations”. 

In other words, the structural culture of machismo in Latin America is causing authorities to be apathetic towards the epidemic that is femicide. In order to reduce the rates of femicidie in Mexico, activists are calling for a complete overhaul of Mexico’s legal system, which protects men who kill women. 

Credit: @Lubruixa/Twitter

“The authorities don’t do anything to find these killers and the killers realize that they are taking so long that they have a chance to get away,” said Claudia Correa to Reuters, whose 21-year-old daughter was stabbed to death by her boyfriend in October. “And they are going to continue doing so if we allow them to”.

As for social media users, they are just as fed up with the machismo culture that allows so many murderers to go free without facing justice.

It is a culture of misogyny fueled by machsimo that makes the authorities and the government so apathetic to the murder of thousands of women.

This Latina knows that the fight for equality is futile if justice is not served for these women.

Because of the government’s inaction, women in Mexico are constantly living in fear for their lives. 

As this Twitter user points out, it isn’t just Mexico that’s the problem, but Latin America in general:

This statistic simply proves that the problem isn’t just a Mexican one–but one that is plaguing all of Latin America.

This Latina paid tribute to the women that have fallen to the plague of gender-based murder:

Statistics like this make it hard to ignore the public health crisis on Latin America’s hands. 

This Latina has a theory as to how the problem of femicide has risen to such shocking proportions in Latin America:

Whatever the cause of the crisis is, there’s no time to waste in addressing it. The deaths of thousands of women should be incentive enough to stop these tragedies from happening with such frequency. 

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Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

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Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Hector Vivas / Getty Images

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador criticized the historic role of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Mexico after a former Mexican army chief was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles on drug charges at the request of the DEA.

The former Mexican Defense Minister was arrested by the DEA on drug charges.

Salvador Cienfuegos Zepedas was the secretary of National Defense in the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto from 2012 to 2018. President Lopez Obrador claims that the arrest is proof of corruption from past governments.

President Lopez Obrador used the arrest to criticize the U.S. government and the DEA.

President Lopez Obrador, speaking at a press conference in Oaxaca, claimed that there is a double standard. While Cienfuegos Zepedas has been arrested by the DEA, the president claims U.S. officials have not been held accountable for trafficking arms into Mexico to track them to the cartels. According to the president, Mexican officials are being held at a higher and harsher standard than U.S. officials.

“Why is it that it’s just the people in Mexico who took part in these acts being accused or implicated, and (the DEA) aren’t criticizing themselves, reflecting on the meddling by all these agencies in Mexico,” Lopez Obrador said at the press conference. “They came into the country with complete freedom, they did whatever they wanted.”

The former defense minister’s arrest sent shockwaves through Mexico.

Cienfuegos Zepedas was the first high-ranking Mexican military official to be arrested in the U.S. with drug-related corruption. He was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport and will be facing drug and money-laundering charges. It’s been less than a year since Genaro Garcia Luna was charged with taking bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

President Lopez Obrador wants to protect the military’s reputation.

Lopez Obrador also said he hopes that the armed forces aren’t blamed for this scandal and that Mexico must take care of institutions as important as the Secretary of National Defense. Mexico does not currently have an ongoing investigation of the retired general and will await the result of the U.S. investigation, according to the president of Mexico. 

Cienfuegos Zepedas is due to make a court appearance related to four charges in California on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020.

READ: This Is What Mexico’s AMLO Wants From The Pope For The Churches Crimes Against Indigenous Mexicans

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Mexico’s Famed Día De Muertos Events Are Going Virtual, Meaning It’s Easier Than Ever To Join The Celebrations

Culture

Mexico’s Famed Día De Muertos Events Are Going Virtual, Meaning It’s Easier Than Ever To Join The Celebrations

Jan Sochor / Getty Images

In Mexico, traditions are sacred and family is everything. So when the Coronavirus pandemic hit Mexico and threatened to take away many of the country’s prized traditions, people sprung into action to think outside the box so that communities could continue celebrating the year’s many traditions but in a low-risk way.

It’s this commitment to tradition and ingenuity that is helping Día de Muertos traditions live on this year, despite the surge in Covid-19 cases across the country.

Día de Muertos is usually celebrated across Central and Southern Mexico with large celebrations that include people from the entire pueblo. Well, obviously this year that isn’t exactly possible (or at least safe) so authorities are creating new ways to bring the important celebrations to Mexicans (and others) around the world.

Thanks to Covid-19, our Día de Muertos celebrations will look a lot different this year.

Typically at this time of year, Mexico bustles with activity and cities and pueblos across the country come to life full of color and scents. The cempasúchil – the typical orange marigolds associated with Día de Muertos – are everywhere and the scent is intoxicating.

However, things look exceptionally different this year. Mexican authorities have said cemeteries will remain closed for the Nov. 2 celebration, meaning that people aren’t buying up the flowers as in years past. In fact, according to many growers, less than half the typical amount have been grown this year.

Along with the cutback in flowers and typical holiday purchases, nearly all of the country’s major events have been cancelled by authorities. However, officials say that families can still celebrate but in more private ways or by tuning into online, virtual events.

Mexican authorities are urging people to practice sana distancia and avoid large family gatherings – including for Day of the Dead.

For many Mexicans, however, this year is especially important to celebrate the holiday in honor of the loved ones they’ve lost to the pandemic. Mexico has been one of the world’s hardest hit countries as there have been more than 855,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 86,338 deaths. Although those numbers are said to be highly skewed thanks to one of the world’s lowest testing rates.

“This year is very special because my family members died of COVID-19,” said Dulce Maria Torres in an interview with NBC News, who was buying flowers at a traditional market in the Mexican capital. “It’s important to me and we want to make them a beautiful offering.”

However, authorities are pleading with people to help contain the virus’ spread by avoiding the traditional family gatherings associated with the holiday.

As Mexico works to curb the spread of Covid-19, most events are going virtual this year.

Authorities across Mexico are working to maintain a balance between tradition and safety as they work to bring Día de Muertos celebrations to an online audience.

In an interview, Paola Félix Díaz, Director of the Tourism Promotion Fund, said that “Events such as the Day of the Dead are an opportunity to generate a tribute to all the people who have left because of this disease but also as a reminder of all the traditions that cannot be stopped.”

Officials are working an app called “Xóchitl, Mexico’s virtual ambassador for the world” that will work as an interactive digital platform featuring AR (Augmented Reality), which will include content related to Mexican traditions, culture, and entertainment.

The platform will give access to virtual events, live streaming for the promotion of beautiful Mexico City in a safe way without putting anyone at risk. The parade will be held inside a stadium or a recording studio, without public and following all COVID-19 protocols. The event will be broadcast in many different online platforms”

Even Mexico City’s famed Día de Muertos parade is going virtual this year.

Mexico City’s Day of the Dead parade is one of the country’s biggest tourism draws. Just last year the city had more than 2 million people at the parade. In addition, it’s a widely sponsored event by large companies such as Apple and Mattel. It brings in millions of dollars of revenue to the city.

Félix Díaz said that the possibilities of a virtual parade or “looking for these new trends such as drive-ins or a car tour are in talks. We are planning it.”

Cancun’s Xcaret park will be hosting an online festival to celebrate the holiday.

Although the sustainable park based outside Cancun has suspended all of its events and activities for 2020, in accordance with WHO recommendations, the park will host a virtual celebration for Día de Muertos.

Although the official date hasn’t yet been confirmed, the group says that they are excited to bring the event (now in its 14th year) to people around the world via an online celebration.

Events in the U.S. will also be taking place online – from California to New York.

One of the country’s largest Día de Muertos events, held in LA’s Grand Park will take place with 12 days of virtual celebrations. You’ll find arts workshops, digital ofrendas and storytelling online, as well as in-real-life art installations at the neighboring Downtown locations. Self-Help Graphics & Art—which hosts its own Day of the Dead event—has curated 11 large-scale altars for socially distant viewing, with audio tours available online.

Downey moves its annual Day of the Dead celebration from the city’s civic center to the internet with this virtual celebration. In the lead-up to the event you’ll be able to find recipes and crafting tutorials, and on the day of you can expect a mix of movies, music, ballet folklorico performances, shopping opportunities and a pair of art exhibitions.

And for those of us who can’t wait and/or want 24/7/365 access to Día de Muertos events, there’s always Google. The platform brings tons of Day of the Dead exhibits and information to users around the world through its Google Arts & Culture site, which you can view here.

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