Culture

Here Are The Latinas We Should Honor This #WomensHistoryMonth

March is Women’s History Month which means we’re all celebrating the Latina poderosas in our lives. Be sure to give them a big hug and a cosita or two to show your appreciation. There have been so many women that came before us that, in small and big ways, created space and inspiration for our poderosas to thrive.

Here are some of the most inspiring, history-writing Latinas, in every field from science, the arts, law and politics.

Rita Moreno

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Rita Moreno has been making headlines in the entertainment industry for over 70 years. The Boricua is one of a handful of people who have won an Academy, Emmy, Tony and Grammy, making her an EGOT. Our parents remember her as one of the first Latinas to be portrayed on screen in West Side Story.

Yalitza Aparicio

@yalitzaapariciomtz / Instagram

Aparicio is the first Indigenous American woman, the fourth Latina and the second Mexican woman to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role in Roma. This is no small feat. The actress had no formal training in acting and was working as a teacher at the time of her casting.

Frida Kahlo

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The now famous Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, was not appreciated during her time and was simply known as Diego Rivera’s wife. Today, her art, which explored ahead-of-her-time questions of gender, identity and being differently abled, have resonated with the masses.

Selena Quintanilla

@athena_vintage / Twitter

The one and only Selena was the Queen of Tejano music. She broke out in a genre that was dominated by men, and made it her own. You don’t think Tejanjo music without thinking of Selena.

Dolores Huerta

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Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta is the little known co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, most closely associated with her co-founder, Cesar Chavez. In fact, Huerta was the lead negotiator in the workers’ contract that resulted from the game-changing grape boycott on behalf of migrant workers.

Ellen Ochoa

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Ellen Ochoa is the first Latina woman in the world to go into space, making history on April 8, 1993. She was aboard the Discovery shuttle for nine days while conducting research into the Earth’s ozone layer. Since then, she’s logged 1,000 hours in space total.

Sonia Sotomayor

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Nuyorican Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the first Latina Justice in history. At the time of her swearing in, people were criticizing every little thing she did, down to her red nails and red lips. She showed up in red nails anyway because she’s Latina.

Sylvia Rivera

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Sylvia Rivera is the Puerto Rican trans woman believed to have started the infamous Stonewall riot with Marsha P. Johnson that launched the LGBTQ+ rights movement 1960s 1960’s. She’s not often credited for her organizing efforts and fearlessness. Pray to Santa Rivera next time you need a little courage.

Maria Elena Salinas

@mariaesalinas / Twitter

Maria Elena Salinas is not only the longest running female news anchor on American television, she’s also the first Latina to earn a Lifetime Achievement Emmy. Her hard hitting work is focused on the injustices facing immigrant children, and her voice has spoken for and to Latinos for generations.

Sylvia Mendez

@sylviamendez92 / Instagram

Sylvia Mendez has been making waves for Latinos since she was eight years old. She’s the Mendez in Mendez v. Westminster, which ended school segregation in California. Today, her civil rights work has earned her a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

@aoc / Twitter

We all know who AOC is, because she demands to be heard on behalf of her constituents in the Bronx. This Nuyorican is the youngest Congresswoman ever elected and is here to shake things up. Her ambitious Green New Deal is enlivening the Democratic party with a true urgency to address climate change before it ravages humanity to the point of no return.

Celia Cruz

@celiacruzonline / Instagram

We all know Celia Cruz as the Queen of Salsa, but the Afro-Latina had to leave everyone and everything she knew in Cuba behind after Castro came to power. He vindictively permanently exiled her, and she wasn’t allowed to return even to say goodbye to her dying mother. Cruz sacrificed it all to bring the world a poderosa to aspire to.

Julia de Burgos

@gaychickendad / Instagram

Burgos’ poetry made waves in Puerto Rico, but when she moved stateside, her ballads to Puerto Rico and struggle with identity as an Afro-Latina weren’t acknowledged. Afro-Caribbean writers have paid tribute to her lasting work, and it’s time for the rest of us to follow suit.

Carmen Carrera

@carmen_carrera / Instagram

Don’t be fooled by her supermodel looks. Carmen Carrera is not someone to be messed with. The trans Latina has put RuPaul himself in his place around trans-inclusive language on his show, and is fighting for space for trans women on the runway. We see you, girl.

Gloria Estefan

@gloriaestefan / Instagram

Gloria Estefan is one of the greatest voices in a generation. The singer brought the sounds of the Cuban island to the U.S. and expanded on the hard work Celia Cruz already put forward. She has been honored with high-ranking awards for her cultural contributions to the U.S.

Gwen Ifill

@michele_norris / Instagram

Ifill was one of the first Black women to host a national public affairs program in the United States and the first to moderate a vice presidential debate. The Panamanian journalist paved the way for many others and Afro-Latino journalists today have Ifill to thank for the path she blazed.

Soledad O’Brien

@NEAFoundation / Twitter

O’Brien has had air time for as long as we can remember, and has had to struggle with combating prejudices and straight ignorance against Afro-Latinas along the way. Her hard work has made it easier for the women who have come after her.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

@roslehtinen / Instagram

After forty years of serving the American public in politics, this Cuban-American icon finally retired. I’d be ready to if I was the first Latina to serve in the Florida House, Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, and finally the first Cuban-American in Congress. Pioneering is exhausting. Thank you for your service for the trans community.

MJ Rodriguez

@PoseOnFX / Twitter

Honey, if you haven’t seen Rodriguez’ performance on Pose, buckle up. Rodriguez is the first trans Afro-Latina starring actress to be on a television series drama and the camera is eating it up. We all are. ????

Sophie Cruz

@sharabkaufman / Instagram

Last, but certainly not least, is Ms. Cruz, who is not a future trailblazer, but a right-now-blazer. When she was five years old, she gave Pope Francis a letter that read, “I want to tell you that my heart is very sad, because I’m scared that one day ICE is going to deport my parents. I have a right to live with my parents. I have a right to be happy.”

In 2017, she was the featured speaker at the Women’s March, and is advocating for the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program up to this very minute.

READ: You’re Not Celebrating #WomensHistoryMonth If You’re Not Celebrating These Trans Women

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These Were The Moments That Defined Latin America In 2020 That Weren’t About COVID-19

Things That Matter

These Were The Moments That Defined Latin America In 2020 That Weren’t About COVID-19

2020 will easily go down in manny of our memories as the year that just wouldn’t stop. As the year started, it all seemed to be sort of fine as the world came together to battle record-breaking Australian bushfires and worked to hopefully contain an outbreak of a strange new virus in China.

However, as the year comes to a close things have gone de mal a peor for the world in general, but for the Latino population in the United States and Latin America as a region in particular. Though it’s hard to realize just how much we all witnessed and experienced since so much of what happened seems like it was a lifetime ago.

Here’s a look back at some the defining moments from 2020 across Latin America.

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira kicked off the year hopeful with a history-making performance at the Super Bowl.

Yes, believe it or not, this happened in 2020. The pair put on what many have called the best half time show in Super Bowl history. They were also joined by J Balvin and Bad Bunny.

Bolivia’s Evo Morales was forced into exile, only to return to the country in November.

After being forced into exile at the end of 2019 for attempting to illegally run in upcoming presidential elections, Morales spent a year abroad – first in Mexico and then in Argentina.

Mexico’s President AMLO made his first trip abroad to visit Donald Trump at the White House.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is a staunch populist and has long said his primary focus is domestic policy within Mexico. Therefore, despite two years in office, AMLO hadn’t left Mexico once. So it came as a surprise when his first trip abroad was a visit to the U.S. leader who had long disparaged Mexico, the government, and Mexicans – not to mention his trip came in the middle of a global pandemic.

Migrant caravans continued to make their way towards the U.S. despite interference from Mexico and Covid-19.

Migrants attempting to make their way to the U.S. isn’t unique to 2020. For decades, migrants have long banded together for safety in numbers along the treacherous journey to the north. However, they became larger and better organized in 2020, perhaps owing to the new dangers of Mexican interference.

Mexico’s AMLO vowed to stop migrants from reaching the U.S.-Mexico border, adhering to Trump’s request. It was also noteworthy because the caravans continued despite the Covid-19 crisis, which has hit the region particularly hard.

Peru saw three presidents in the span of a few weeks after massive protests.

Peru is facing one of the greatest crises the nation has faced. Just as the country seemed to be emerging from the worst of its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, the country has entered a severe political crisis.

The country’s elected president, Martin Vizcarra, was impeached and removed from office. His predecessor responded with a heavy hand to the protests that ensued resulting in his resignation less than 24 hours later. The government then had to find someone willing to take the job which proved to be a tough sell.

In fact, massive protests swept across Latin America.

From Mexico in the north to Cuba in the Caribbean and Chile in the south, protests were seen all across the region. Although each movement had it’s own stated goal and objectives, many were largely borne out of the same purpose: to fight back against corruption.

Brazil’s President Jaír Bolsonaro tested positive for Covid-19 but it did nothing to change his approach to the pandemic.

Jaír Bolsonaro has long been compared to Donald Trump, with many calling him the Donald Trump of South America. The two were also strongly aligned in their responses to the Coronavirus pandemic, with the pair largely downplaying the severity of the crisis.

Then, Bolsonaro became infected with the virus and many hoped it would change his view on the crisis. It didn’t.

A growing feminist movement developed in Mexico, demanding protection from a shocking rise in violence against women.

Mexico has long been battling endemic violence and the country has continued to see record-setting rates of homicides. But it was the growing rate of violence against women, particularly femicide, that gained national attention.

Women banded together and started large nationwide protests. Over the summer, women in the capital of Mexico City occupied government buildings and destroyed many of the city’s most popular monuments to hopefully get their message across. Although the movement has gained more recognition by Mexicans, the government has still failed to address their concerns. Let’s hope things are different in 2021.

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The Romance Between Frida Kahlo And Chavela Vargas Gets Renewed Attention As Long Lost Love Letters Are Uncovered

Entertainment

The Romance Between Frida Kahlo And Chavela Vargas Gets Renewed Attention As Long Lost Love Letters Are Uncovered

Frida Kahlo’s paintings perfectly show the artist’s whirlwind of emotions throughout her life. Her art gives a look into her passions, her pains and her loves, which went far beyond Diego Rivera. 

It’s long been known that the prolific artist had many loves throughout her life, both men and women, and including many major personalities of their time. Everyone from Tina Modotti and the politician León Trotsky were on that list in addition to her longtime companion, Diego Rivera. However, one of Kahlo’s great loves and of whom little is said was the singer Chavela Vargas.

Chavela, who was 12 years younger than Frida, spoke on several occasions about the love she had for Kahlo when her musical career began to take off, while she was “a child.” And thanks to recently discovered love letters we have a new perspective on this little known relationship.

New love letters give us details into the romance between Frida Kahlo and Chavela Vargas.

Although Chavela had claimed to have destroyed all of the love letters she received from Frida Kahlo, new love letters have recently been discovered that paint a new light on the romance.

There is one letter Kahlo had written to Carlos Pellicer, a Mexican poet, to express her feelings about the singer. She told him that after meeting Chavela she felt attracted to her from the very first moment – in some pretty steamy language.

“Today I met Chavela Vargas. Extraordinary, lesbian, what’s more, I wanted her erotically. I don’t know if she felt what I did. But I think she’s a liberal enough woman, that if she asks me, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to undress in front of her. How many times do you not want to get laid and that’s it? She, I repeat, is erotic. Is it a gift that heaven sends me?”, wrote Kahlo.

It was shortly after Kahlo wrote that letter that Chavela went to live with her and Diego at La Casa Azul. In another recently discovered letter, Vargas writes – of her time at Casa Azul – that she felt very happy and in love, as well as loved by Kahlo.

“She taught me a lot of things and I learned a so much. Without giving away too much, I held the sky with my hands, with every word, every morning,” she said.

The lovers had an intense relationship that has fascinated fans to this day.

The two had met at one of the many parties Kahlo and Rivera would host at their home in Casa Azul. The couple were prolific entertainers and often threw extravagant parties.

Before her death, Vargas detailed that night’s meeting.

“A painter friend invited me. She said: ‘There’s a party at Frida’s house tonight. Shall we go?’ I went and the atmosphere was full of people. The night passed, we sang, everyone danced, everyone entertained,” Vargas says in the documentary Chavela, released in 2017.

“I was in a daze when I saw her face, her eyes. I thought she couldn’t be a being from this world. Her eyebrows together were a swallow in flight. Without yet having the maturity of a woman in me, since I was a very young girl, I sensed that I could love that being with the most devoted love in the world, the strongest love in the world,” said the singer about Frida.

Although the romance didn’t last long thanks in part to the painter’s relationship with Diego Rivera.

Credit: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Vargas confessed that the romance didn’t last for a long time on the account of having to share the painter’s love with Diego Rivera. According to Vargas, one day Kahlo simply decided to abandon her.

“My words possibly hurt her a lot when I told her I was leaving and she told me: ‘I know. It is impossible to tie you to anybody’s life. I can’t tie you to my crutches or to my bed. Go away!’ And one day I opened the door and didn’t come back,” Vargas said.

Although the singer never spoke about whether she had intimate relationships with the painter, the romance, as well as the great love and attraction they felt for each other is something that cannot be denied.

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