Culture

A Mexican Beauty Queen Has Landed In Jail On Kidnapping Charges, Why Does This Keep Happening?

The pageant world is popular in communities all over the planet. From Russia to the U.S. and across Latin America, beauty queens (and kings) strut their stuff on runways and display their many talents. But the pageant world is also known to suffer from a more sinister side that often lands itself in the headlines.

In Mexico, beauty pageants have long been connected to organized crime and international human trafficking rings. Now, one former beauty queen has landed herself in jail in connection to these terrible crimes.

A former Mexican beauty queen has been jailed in connection to a kidnapping ring.

A former Oaxaca beauty queen has been jailed without bail on suspicion of being part of a kidnapping ring operating in the Mexican states of Veracruz and Oaxaca.

Laura Mojica Romero, 25, was Miss Oaxaca in 2018 and the 2020 International Queen of Coffee in Colombia, a beauty pageant at which she represented Mexico. She was arrested Thursday with seven other people in a raid conducted by a federal anti-kidnapping unit after two months of investigation.

A judge on Saturday ruled that Mojica and the seven others will remain in prison for the next two months while authorities continue to gather evidence. Members of the group each face up to 50 years in prison.

Romero had tried to position herself as unique among beauty queens in the country.

Laura Mojica Romero defined herself as “more than a pretty face” during a interview she did in 2019. The 25-year-old, who at that time had just won the Miss Oaxaca contest for the second time, said that the contest had taken an important turn because it highlighted aspects that went “beyond” the contestants’ own beauty.

She put herself out there as an example when remembering that she participated in the delivery of supplies (sweaters, blankets and coats) in remote Indigenous communities and announced that among her future projects included support for the musical education of children from impoverished communities, as well as the formation of women’s entrepreneurship cells; a strategy that she claimed was to combat gender violence.

“We cannot stand idly by, we have to eradicate violence against women, through campaigns and talks that make men aware of this problem,” said the also graduate in Business Administration from the Universidad Veracruzana (UV) to Newsweek Mexico.

Mexico is an international hub for human trafficking.

In its most recent report, the organization Alto al Secuestro warned that the states with the highest incidence of kidnappings are the State of Mexico, with seven; Veracruz, with 12; Oaxaca, with six; Guerrero, with five; and Tabasco, Sinaloa and Mexico City, with four respectively.

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Mexicans Travel To U.S. For ‘Vaccine Tourism’ Say It’s A Matter Of Survival

Things That Matter

Mexicans Travel To U.S. For ‘Vaccine Tourism’ Say It’s A Matter Of Survival

Jorge Saenz / AP / Getty Images

The United States is one of the world’s most successful countries when it comes to rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine program. So far, more than 200 million vaccines have been administered across the U.S. and as of this week anyone over the age of 16 is now eligible.

Meanwhile, in many countries around the world – including Mexico – the vaccine roll out is still highly restricted. For many, who can afford to travel, they see the best option at a shot in the arm to take a trip to the U.S. where many locations are reporting a surplus in vaccines.

Wealthy Latin Americans travel to U.S. to get COVID vaccines.

People of means from Latin America are chartering planes, booking commercial flights, buying bus tickets and renting cars to get the vaccine in the United States due to lack of supply back in their home countries. Some of those making the trip include politicians, TV personalities, business executives and a soccer team.

There is an old Mexican joke: God tells a Mexican he has only a week left to live but can ask for one final wish, no matter how outrageous. So the Mexican asks for a ticket to Houston—for a second opinion.

Virginia Gónzalez and her husband flew from Mexico to Texas and then boarded a bus to a vaccination site. They made the trip again for a second dose. The couple from Monterrey, Mexico, acted on the advice of the doctor treating the husband for prostate cancer. In all, they logged 1,400 miles for two round trips.

“It’s a matter of survival,” Gónzalez told NBC News, of getting a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. “In Mexico, officials didn’t buy enough vaccines. It’s like they don’t care about their citizens.”

Mexico has a vaccine rollout plan but it’s been too slow in many people’s opinions.

With a population of nearly 130 million people, Mexico has secured more vaccines than many Latin American nations — about 18 million doses as of Monday from the U.S., China, Russia and India. Most of those have been given to health care workers, people over 60 and some teachers, who so far are the only ones eligible. Most other Latin American countries, except for Chile, are in the same situation or worse.

So vaccine seekers who can afford to travel are coming to the United States to avoid the long wait, including people from as far as Paraguay. Those who make the trip must obtain a tourist visa and have enough money to pay for required coronavirus tests, plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars and other expenses.

There is little that is fair about the global race for the COVID-19 vaccine, despite international attempts to avoid the current disparities. In Israel, a country of 9 million people, half of the population has received at least one dose, while plenty of countries have yet to receive any. While the U.S. could vaccinate 70 percent of its population by September 2021 at the current rollout rate, it could take Mexico until approximately the year 2024 to achieve the same results.

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Mare Advertencia Lirika’s Rap Game Is An Ode To Social Resistance

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Mare Advertencia Lirika’s Rap Game Is An Ode To Social Resistance

mare.advertencia.lirika / Instagram

In Oaxaca, Mexico the hip-hop scene is dominated by men. Influenced by early ’90s American rap artists, most lyrics are misogynistic; a commonality in past and present wrap.

As a feminist uprising fuels the country, female rappers like Mare Advertencia Lirika utilize the depth hip-hop activism can have on social justice.

Growing up listening to banda, Lirika became exposed to American hip-hop when she was 12.

Although a fan, her language barrier impacted her resonance with the genre. After hearing Mexican rap groups like Caballeros de Plan G and Vieja Guardia, her spark for rap reignited.

“The history of rap is a mix of so many things that it gives room for anyone to fit into it,” she told Refinery29.

At 16, her rap career took off.

Under a machismo culture where women are often told ‘calladita te ves más bonita,’ Lirika defies outdated standards.

In her latest feminist anthem “Que Mujer,” she encourages women to rise up against patriarchal rhetorics.

With passion and prowess, her bona fide representation of class and gender struggles echo marginalized communities disenfranchised by systems of power.

Femicide rates in Mexico are rampant, having doubled in the last five years. On average 10 women are killed every day, but due to unreliable data and systematic impunity, many cases go under-investigated.

Oaxaca is a hot spot for violence, a reality Lirika knows too well. When she was five, her father was murdered resulting in the circumstantial feminist upbringing that fueled her vocality. Raised by her mother, grandmother and aunts, witnessing women take charge in making tough decisions helped to normalize her outspokenness.

Her feminist upbringing made her the strong woman she is today.

Identifying as Zapotec, an indigenous community native to Oaxaca, Lirika’s potent lyrics pay homage to her matriarchal upbringing and social resistance.

In “¿Y Tú Qué Esperas?” Lirika’s hearty alto sound shines as she asks that women speak and live their truth.

In songs like “Se Busca” she renders a poignant message demanding the return of those who have been kidnapped. Her visuals further amplify the severity of the issue as she raps, “cada persona que no está es un ausencia que no sana.”

Unafraid of confrontation, her cutthroat verses and poeticism are visceral.

Listening to her beats feel reminiscent of old-school rap, making it almost impossible to not nod along to her intellectual wit. Fusing the melodies of cumbias and reggae among others, she spits bars that sound the alarm of revolution.

But hostility towards women in the Oaxaca rap scene still lingers.

“Most people still think that women aren’t compatible with rap and think that we are wasting our time,” she told The New York Times in 2018. “We have to continue to show up at shows because it gives us confidence to see other women rap and to show people that we can also do this.”

Perhaps one of the best known Oaxaca rappers Lirika, 34, has established herself as a prominent figure in the genre. But her call to action is just beginning.

“My life context has taught me that I can use my voice,” she told Refinery29. “And maybe that’s a privilege of mine, one I shouldn’t have, but I trust very much what I have to say. I don’t fear what I have to say.”

READ: Latinas Talk About Learning Of The Heartbreaking Colonization Of Indigenous Land And The Genocide Of Its People

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