Culture

These Movies About Jewish Life In Latin America Are Perfect For Hanukkah

The Jewish experience in Latin America is vast and diverse. Millions of Jewish families, having fled Europe before, during, and after World War II and the Holocaust settled everywhere in the world. Here are some of the movies depicting the various Jewish communities and stories in Latin America.

“Anita”

The Argentine movie tells the story of a Jewish woman with Down Syndrome in the aftermath of the nation’s deadliest terrorist attack to date. The Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) was attacked by a suicide bomber killing 85 people and injuring hundreds. Anita, the young woman, is left wandering the streets looking for her mother, who was supposed to be at the AMIA at the time of the bombing. Argentina is home to the largest Jewish population in Latin America and the sixth-largest in the world.

“Gaby: A True Story”

The Mexican-American biographical film is about a European refugee family living in Mexico. The daughter, Gaby, was born with cerebral palsy and can only move her left foot, which she uses to type to communicate. Gabriel Brimmer is nurtured and encouraged by her nurse and it leads her to a life of advocacy and writing for the disabled community in Mexico.

“Havana Curveball”

The biography dives deep into the story of one grandfather’s journey to Cuba to escape the Holocaust in Europe. After living in Cuba for two years, he and his family move to the U.S. Decades later, his teenage son wants to do something to help the country that saved his grandfather’s life and he focuses on baseball. The sport is the young boys favorite thing so he sets to donate large amounts of baseball gear to the island but the embargo makes things hard. The rest of the journey plays out on the island as he learns more about the island where his grandfather once lived.

“O Ano Em Que Meus Pais Saíram De Férias” (“The Year My Parents Went On Vacation”)

A young boys mother and father leave him behind as they flee Brazil’s oppressive regime in 1970. During that time, Mauro is taken in by his grandfather and becomes the adopted child of a tight-knit Jewish community in São Paulo. Mauro anxiously waits for his parents to return as the nation gets ready for Brazil’s appearance in the World Cup.

“My Mexican Shivah”

This comedy takes a look at one of the most notable customs of a Jewish funeral: the shivah. As the family sits to observe shiva after the death of the matriarch, secrets of the family are slowly revealed. The movie is a funny look at Mexican and Jewish cultures coming together whole a family grapples with long dormant secrets.

“Nora’s Will” (“Cinco días sin Nora”)

The drama is a look at love and loss after Nora, Jose’s wife, commits suicide just before Passover. The woman’s plan was to bring her family together for the holy celebration but a forgotten photo might derail those plans. Jose finds the photo and it begins a journey to deeper understanding of his wife’s love.

“The Tenth Man”

Ariel, an Argentine man living in New York, is getting ready to visit his father in Buenos Aires. He is looking forward to finally introducing his father to his dancer wife but nothing is going to plan. Ariel and Monica finally arrive in Argentina after being delayed a few days and being unable to find the specific shoes his father requested. Yet, his father is unable to meet up for days as he promises to meet in person soon.

READ: Anti-Semitism Rocked A NYC Subway When A Woman Physically Assaulted A Jewish Woman

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Recognizing Its Diversity Issue, Argentina Is Working To Add More Transgender Workers To Its Labor Force

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Recognizing Its Diversity Issue, Argentina Is Working To Add More Transgender Workers To Its Labor Force

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Argentina has long been a progressive bastion in Latin America. It was one of the first countries in the region to allow same-sex marriage and also has anti-discrimination laws in many cities. It’s also been a beacon of hope for the transgender community, with the government long allowing individuals to choose their self-perceived identity regardless of their biological sex.

However, transgender workers still face immense discrimination and that has left a reported 95% of the community without formal employment. To help try and address this issue, the nation’s leaders have instituted a program to ensure that at least 1% of the workforce is made up of trans workers. It’s an ambitious task but the government is already making progress.

Argentina launched a program to ensure better transgender representation in the workforce.

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández signed a decree in September establishing a 1 percent employment quota for transgender people in the public sector. The law went into effect on January 1 and its aim is to bring more trans workers into the formal economy.

According to Argentina’s LGBTQ community, 95 percent of transgender people do not have formal employment, with many forced to work in the sex industry where they face violence.

“If all the institutions implemented the trans quota, it would change a lot for many of my colleagues. It would change the quality of their lives and they would not die at 34, or 40, which is their life expectancy today,” Angeles Rojas, who recently landed a job at a national bank, told NBC News.

There are no official figures on the size of the transgender community in Argentina, since it was not included in the last 2010 census. But LGBTQ organizations estimate there are 12,000 to 13,000 transgender adults in Argentina, which has a population topping 44 million.

Few countries in the world are stepping up to help trans workers quite like Argentina.

Argentina has long prided itself on its progressive policies. The nation was one of the first in the Americas to recognize same-sex unions and several cities have anti-discrimination laws aimed at protecting the LGBTQ community.

In 2012, Argentina adopted an unprecedented gender identity law allowing transgender people to choose their self-perceived identity regardless of their biological sex. The law also guarantees free access to sex-reassignment surgeries and hormonal treatments without prior legal or medical consent.

Worldwide, only neighboring Uruguay has a comparable quota law promoting the labor inclusion of transgender people. And a law such as this one has the potential to greatly impact the lives of transgendered Argentinians.

Despite the program, transgender people still face enormous challenges in Argentina.

A recent report by the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Trans People published in December said “the vast majority of trans women in the region have sex work as their sole economic and subsistence livelihood.”

It goes on to say: In Latin America and the Caribbean transgender people have their right to work violated along with all their human rights, and this takes place “in a context of extreme violence.”

Despite legal protections, Argentina’s trans community remains at risk. Many of the country’s trans citizens live in the Gondolín, a building in the Buenos Aires’ Palermo neighborhood, for protection and strength in numbers.

There have been advances in Argentina. This year, Diana Zurco became the first transgender presenter of Argentine television news, Mara Gómez was authorized by the Argentine Football Association to play in the professional women’s league and soprano María Castillo de Lima was the first transgender artist to go on stage at Teatro Colón.

However, the gap between the equality established by law and the real one remains large, warned Ese Montenegro, a male transgender activist hired as an adviser to the Chamber of Deputies’ women’s and diversity commission.

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

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

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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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