Culture

Mexico Just Announced It Will Offer Legal Representation In More Than 100 Indigenous Languages And It’s A Huge Victory

Let’s finish this convoluted year with a piece of information that gives us at least a bit of optimism shall we?

The Mexican government, led by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has gotten many things wrong according to its critics. However, one area in which it has delivered on its promises is on a different, more inclusive approach to indigenous communities that recognizes the centuries-long dispossession of which they have been subject. Plus, the fact that their culture has been crushed by the weight of mestizo, monolingual social structures.

States such as Yucatan are making good progress by, for example, making Mayan language compulsory in schools, which is a recognition that the original owners of a land that was never ceded still comprise an important part of the state’s identity. 

Even though since colonial times Spanish became the official language of what is now the Mexican territory, the country houses hundreds of indigenous languages and dialects.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

People who speak indigenous languages in addition to Spanish should be celebrated! After all, how many of us can claim to be fully bilingual? But this is not the case. As Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma showed, languages like mixteco and zapoteco, which originated in Oaxaca, are looked down upon by the white and mestizo elites.

This is a form or racism that not only embodies a form of self-hatred (most Mexicans have European and indigenous blood) but also plants the seeds of marginalization. The fact that indigenous languages are looked down upon does not only involve issues of cultural identity, but increases the social divide in more areas. 

But Mexican society experiences an endemic racism that basically punishes those who speak their mother tongue.

Credit: The Yucatan Times

Up to one million Mexicans speak only an indigenous language and even though many more are functional in Spanish, not being fully fluent causes socioeconomic gaps to be further exacerbated in a country defined by inequality.

For example, the job market for people with indigenous languages as a first tongue is limited, particularly in professional sectors. Spanish is the lingua franca and this means that those who do not master it are at a disadvantage. What is even worse, indigenous populations have historically been subject to abuse by the judicial system. If they are not fluent in Spanish, the accused are likely to be convicted as legal representation is compromised by miscommunication or totally non-existent. 

AMLO started his presidency with huge expectations on what he would do for Indigenous Mexicans.

When AMLO took power there was skepticism about how much he would do for indigenous populations after so many campaign promises.

As USN argued back then: “The plight of Mexico’s more than 12 million indigenous people, who often face inequality, injustice and persecution, has been thrown in the spotlight by the election of leftist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in July. Lopez Obrador, who campaigned on a platform of “first the poor,” has held ceremonies with indigenous leaders and vowed to bring meaningful change to these impoverished rural communities. But as the President turns his focus to major infrastructure projects, there are fears that all the rituals and rhetoric may end in broken promises once again.”

However, there are positive signs that lead us to believe that this sexenio (how a Mexican presidency is known, as it lasts for six years) will be different.

Now the government is providing legal representation in 103 indigenous languages, and this is a great step towards reconciliation.

Credit: South World

The Instituto Federal de Defensoría Pública (IFDP; Federal Institute for Public Defense) has significantly increased the number of indigenous languages in which it can offer legal advise and defense. The number has increased from 39 to 103, which is a huge step towards fairer trials for indigenous individuals.

Among the languages that are included in the list we can find maya, mixe, mixteco, mazateco, náhuatl, otomí, purépecha, tarahumara, huasteco, huichol, tepehuano, totonaco, triqui, tzeltal, yaqui, amuzgo, chatino, chinanteco, chol, chontal, cora, cuicateco, zapoteco and zoque. The states with the largest concentration of these languages are Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco, Nayarit, Jalisco, San Luis Potosí, Campeche, Quintana Roo, Yucatán, Sonora, Sinaloa, Querétaro, Estado de México, Chihuahua, Michoacán, Durango  and Puebla.

The service is therefore not concentrated in a single region, as is the case with several federal programs, but is spread out across Mexico’s geography. Added to this, the number of staff who is fluent in indigenous tongues was increased almost twofold, from 51 to 90. This legal personnel is comprised of lawyers who grew up with an indigenous tongue and understanding the indigenous worldview, which makes them a great asset during trials. Further, they have been granted permission to act as interpreters if there are no other speakers available. 

The goal, however, is to reach the 364 languages spoken in Mexico.

Credit: Mexico Desconocido

According to government officials the new appointments are only the first step and the final objective is to cover all the languages spoken in Mexico. 

Someone Claims That They Discovered A Long-Lost Frida Kahlo Painting But Experts Don’t Agree

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Someone Claims That They Discovered A Long-Lost Frida Kahlo Painting But Experts Don’t Agree

Frida Kahlo - La Mesa Herida - The wounded Table - Der verwundete Tisch / YouTube

Frida Kahlo is one of the most iconic artists in global history. The Mexican artist was known for blazing her own path both in art and in society. One of her most famous paintings “The Wounded Table” has been missing for 65 years but one art dealer claims he found it.

A Spanish art dealer claims to have found a long-lost Frida Kahlo painting.

Kahlo painted “The Wounded Table” in 1940 and over the years it disappeared. It is unknown if it was returned to Moscow, was lost, or destroyed. All that is known is that Kahlo’s largest painting to that date is gone.

Cristian López Márquez, a little known art dealer in Spain, claims to have found the long-lost and highly sought after painting. According to La Voz de Galicia, the art dealers claims to have acquired the painting from some who settled in Spain from Mexico.

The painting is one of Kahlo’s most famous works of art.

The decades-long mystery about where the painting ended up does add to the allure of the claim. However, people are not convinced that the painting is a fake that is being peddled by someone who is after money by selling an inauthentic painting. To make matters more skeptical, the art dealer has very few details but is adamant about its authenticity.

“Time will give us the truth,” Márquez told AP. “Whoever proves genuine interest and the ability to pay the figure of 40 million euros, can spend as much time as wanted with their experts analyzing the work.”

Despite Márquez’s claims, art historians are very skeptical that the painting is true.

Márquez claims to have the painting safe in a warehouse in London. He has put the painting on sale asking for $45 million. No one seems to be biting but Márquez continues to say the painting is an original.

READ: Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul Is Celebrating Her 113th Birthday With A Week Full Of Digital Events

Mexico Closes Border With Arizona To Keep Americans Out Following COVID-19 Outbreak

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Mexico Closes Border With Arizona To Keep Americans Out Following COVID-19 Outbreak

John Moore / Getty Images

Mexico is taking measures to protect its citizens from the rapidly spreading COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. Parts of the Mexico-U.S. border was closed in Arizona by Mexican authorities in response to the Trump administration’s response to COVID-19.

It started when the state of Sonora toughened border restrictions as Arizona’s COVID-19 number skyrocketed.

Arizona is facing one of the toughest COVID-19 surges in the country. Numbers are spiking across the U.S. following the rapid, and in some states sudden, reopenings. Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona are all reporting numbers that have health experts concerned about the outlook of the U.S.’s ability to control the virus.

“We are all going to be on alert at this time to prevent them from coming, whether they are Mexicans living in the U.S., Americans or those who want to come to spend the weekend and put a greater burden on us regarding COVID,” Sonora Gov. Claudia Pavlovich told the Arizona Daily Star.

Some Mexican citizens took it upon themselves to block Americans from entering their country.

Mexican residents along the Arizona border created makeshift blockades to keep Americans from flooding popular beach destinations. Mexican citizens used their cars and other objects to block Americans as the state governments backed their actions.

“We invite US tourists not to visit Mexico,” Sonoyta’s mayor, José Ramos Arzate, said in a statement. “We agreed on this to safeguard the health of our community in the face of an accelerated rate of Covid-19 contagion in the neighboring state of Arizona.”

Sonoyta is a U.S.-Mexico border town with roads that lead to Puerto Peñasco, a beach town on the Sea of Cortés. Mexicans are fighting to protect their own health as the U.S. continues to let the COVID-19 crisis get worse.

The United States has been setting daily records as COVID-19 infections continue to spread out of control. Health experts are warning that the U.S. is still in the first wave of the virus since the first wave never ended. The lack of containment has led to countries banning American tourists because the virus is still not under control.

There are things we can do to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Health experts suggest wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and being diligent about hygiene to slow the spread of the virus. Stay safe and stay healthy.

READ: Gay Man Dubbed Karen For Saying He Wants Everyone To Catch COVID In IG Video