Culture

If You Are In Latin America For The Holidays, Here Are The Best Places To Celebrate New Year’s

If you’ve ever celebrated New Year’s Eve, you know that it can get pretty loco, no matter where you are in the world! But while the U.S. is all champagne, loud dance music, twinkly lights, and wild parties, Latin America’s New Year’s looks different. In many different ways! Depending on where you are, you might be stuffing lentils in your pockets, wearing color-coded underwear, or burning elaborate dolls that resemble celebrities and wicked politicians. Latin America is a beautifully diverse region of the globe, and each country offers its own characteristic approach to ringing in the next solar cycle. To help narrow things down a little, we’ve gathered some of the most unique traditions that prove Latin America is a stellar place to celebrate El Año Nuevo.

All Over Mexico

Credit: Atamo Fireworks

Like many Spanish-speaking countries, New Year’s Eve in Mexico usually starts out with a family dinner. People gather with their closest peeps to eat a traditional meal with mole, tamales, bacalao, or lentils (depending on where they are—each region is pretty distinct, and Mexico is a huge country!). Once they’re good and fed, folks enjoy each other’s company until the clock strikes midnight—but at this pivotal moment, you better have your 12 lucky grapes on hand! Once they’ve made their 12 wishes, Mexicans step out into the night, mingling among outdoor fiestas in all the major plazas. Fireworks illuminate the dark sky for hours and hours. It’s a super vibrant setting to indulge in some of life’s greatest pleasures: friends, family, food, and drink!

Panama City, Panama

Credit: Pinterest

With gorgeous beaches, endless fireworks, and temperate tropical temperatures, Panama City is the ideal New Year’s destination (especially if you’re escaping frigid weather farther north!). The people of Panama sure know how to party—whether on the sandy shores of those gorgeous beaches, in vibrant clubs, discotheques, bars, or even on the street, there is sure to be a raging fiesta everywhere you turn.  In Panama, people create life-sized out of old clothes, which are meant to represent the past year. At midnight, the makers of these dolls burn them in a symbolic display of the whole “out with the old, in with the new” idea. Often, folks get really creative with their muñecos, crafting effigies that resemble political figures or celebrities. Talk about a fun, fiery way to say farewell to all of last year’s worst moments!

All Over Ecuador

Credit: YoTuT / Flickr

In Ecuador, people also know how to throw a good party. Ecuadorians also burn effigies that resemble Panama’s muñecos, but here a “muñeco” is known as an “año viejo.” But the mythology of the año viejo is a little more complex in Ecuador: along with the año viejos come las viudas, dudes who dress in drag and pretend to be the burned dolls’ widowed wives. These men—decked out in tight minifaldas, pantyhose, low-cut tops, and wigs—mill through the streets, asking for money to help support their now-fatherless families. It’s humorous, theatrical, and colorful: the perfect recipe for an entertaining eve!

Valparaíso, Chile

Credit: Pinterest

No matter where you are in the world, New Years isn’t New Years without fireworks—and the city of Valparaíso, Chile, has the largest, most grandiose New Years fireworks display in all of South America! (Back in 2007, this display won the Guinness World Records for setting off 16,000 fireworks.) If you’re a fan of serious skybound sparkles, this seaside city will absolutely dazzle you. Plus, it’s super accessible if you’re staying in the capital city of Santiago, which is also famous for its lively New Years fiesta culture.

Cuzco, Peru

Credit: Pedro Szekely / Flickr

Peru is known around the world for its impeccable approach to cuisine, and if you consider yourself a foodie of any sort, Cuzco is the place to be. Replete with restaurants overlooking the Plaza de Armas, it’s a beautiful setting in which to indulge all the delicacies the country has to offer—while still engaging with local traditions. As thousands of locals (and, inevitably, tourists) all gather in the Plaza, waiting for the impressive midnight fireworks display, you can enjoy a wide array of traditional and contemporary Peruvian dishes, ringing in the New Year with a delicious, nourishing meal.

Montevideo, Uruguay

Credit: Pinterest

On the afternoon New Year’s Eve, people in Montevideo gather in the Mercado del Puerto to celebrate in a really effervescent way—by literally pouring bottles of cider all over each other. And at the end of the workday, employees shred their calendar from the last year, tossing them out the windows like confetti. With drumlines, dancing, and generally high energy, the New Year’s celebrations begin early, ultimately culminating in lots of fireworks, bustling parties, and incredible dinners. Uruguayans normally eat lamb, lechon, or salmon on New Year’s, and you’re bound to find yourself an excellent feast in one of the many fine restaurants throughout the capital city.

READ: Make 2020 Your Year With These 5 Steps To Succeed At Your Resolutions

People Have A Lot Of Opinions About The Argentina Episode Of Netflix’s ‘Street Food: Latin America’

Culture

People Have A Lot Of Opinions About The Argentina Episode Of Netflix’s ‘Street Food: Latin America’

Manuel Velasquez / Getty Images

Netflix has a new food show out and it has everyone buzzing. “Street Food: Latin America” is bringing everyone the sabor of Latin America to their living room. However, reviews are mixed because of Argentina and the lack of Central American representation.

Netflix has a new show and it is all about Latin American street food.

Some of the best food in the world comes from Latin America. That is just a fact and it isn’t because our families and community come for Latin America. Okay, maybe just a little. The food of Latin America comes with history and stories that have shaped our childhood. For many of us, it is the only thing we have that connects us to the lands our families have left.

The show is highlighting the contributions of women to street food.

“Street Food: Latin America” focuses mainly on the women that are leading the street food cultures in different countries in Latin America. For some of them, it was a chance to bring themselves out of poverty and care for their children. For others, it was a rebellion against the male-dominated culture of cooking in Latin America.

However, some people have some strong opinions about the show and they aren’t good.

There is a lot of attention to native communities in the Latino community culturally right now. The Argentina episode where someone claims that Argentina is more European is rubbing people the wrong way right now. While the native population of Argentina is small, it is still important to highlight and honor native communities who are indigenous to the lands.

The disregard for the indigenous community is upsetting because indigenous Argentinians are fighting for their lives and land.

An A Jazeera report focused on an indigenous community in northern Argentina who were fighting to protect their land. After decades of discrimination and humiliation, members of the Wichi community fought to protect their land from the Argentinian government grabbing it in 2017. Early this year, before Covid, children of the tribe started to die at alarming rates of malnutrition.

Another pain point in the Latino community is the complete disregard of Central America.

Central America includes Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Belize, and Panama. Central America’s exclusion is not sitting right with Netflix users with Central American heritage. Like, how can five whole countries be looked over during a Netflix show about street food in Latin America?

Seems like there is a chance for Netflix to revisit Latin America for more food content.

There are so many countries in Latin America that offer delicious foods to the world. There is more to Latin America than Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, and Bolivia.

READ: This Iconic Mexican Food Won The Twitter Battle To Be Named Latin America’s Best Street Food

The U.S. Passport Was Once The World’s Strongest, It’s Fallen To 25th Place Thanks To Failed Leadership Amid Coronavirus

Things That Matter

The U.S. Passport Was Once The World’s Strongest, It’s Fallen To 25th Place Thanks To Failed Leadership Amid Coronavirus

Bloomberg / Getty Images

Not that we should be traveling right now, as the country’s Coronavirus pandemic continues to spiral out of control – but it’s worth noting that our international options are fewer than they were just months ago.

Historically, the U.S. passport has been seen as the golden ticket to travel with ease across the international community as it was once regarded as one of the strongest passports in the world. But that’s changing.

You can blame the drop in standing of the U.S. passport on our elected leaders who have massively failed to gain an upper hand on this health crisis. As other countries have demonstrated an ability to control Coronavirus within their borders, the U.S. has failed miserably. And that failure – in addition to more than 3 million infections and 130,000 deaths – has resulted in Americans simply being turned away from international destinations.

The U.S. passport dropped in visa-free access from 7th to 25th place as a result of our Coronavirus failures.

In what is a double whammy for the United States, the country recently crossed the three-million mark in terms of the number of registered COVID-19 cases, and more than 132,000 people have died from the disease. Now, its handling of the pandemic has drastically diminished power of its passport. 

Before the pandemic, the U.S. was regularly listed in the Top 10 on the Henley Passport Index, an annual ranking of the number of countries a passport gets you into without a visa. The ranking is based on data from the International Air Transport Association. The US usually comes in sixth or seventh and topped the list as recently as 2014. Before the coronavirus pandemic, a US passport would get you into 185 destinations around the world without the need for a visa at all or a visa on arrival.

According to the latest Henley Passport Index, U.S. passports now have access to only 158 countries, putting it on par with a Mexican passport, a significant decline from its previous top 10 ranking in 2014.

“We see an emergence of a new global hierarchy in terms of mobility, with countries that have effectively managed the pandemic taking the lead, and countries that have handled it poorly falling behind,” says Christian Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners, according to Forbes.

The biggest drop came as a result of the European Union banning entry to U.S. citizens.

Many countries across the globe are beginning to open back up as they get their Coronavirus outbreaks under control, and they are limiting or banning travel with countries where the virus is running rampant — including the United States. 

In fact, as Europe has slowly started to reopen its borders to international tourists, it’s specifically left off the U.S. Europe’s decision is responsible for the largest drop in the power of the U.S. passport.

Recently, five Americans who flew to Sardinia on a private jet were turned away and governors in Mexico are advocating for tighter border measures to prevent Americans from going into the country and spreading the virus. 

The U.S. passport is now equal in strength to that of Mexico and Uruguay.

It’s no secret that citizenship is the main factor behind preserving global inequalities today and that simply holding a U.S. passport can grant you access to so many more destinations. But now, Americans are getting to swee just how your government’s actions – or failures – can result in you being treated differently on the global level.

Thanks to America’s failure at combating the virus, U.S. citizens now hold passports that have around the same level of travel freedom as citizens of Mexico (#25 on Henley Passport Index, with a score of 159) and Uruguay (#28, with a score of 153).

Coronavirus continues to rage out of control across the U.S., so it should go without saying that an international trip is not a good idea right now.

Countries are closing their doors to Americans, as the outbreak in the US — the worst in the world — nears 3 million infections with over 131,000 deaths.

The US last week surpassed 50,000 new daily coronavirus cases, and that trend has been maintained this week with multiple states and cities recording record-high new infections, hospitalizations, or deaths. 

Another factor playing into travel restrictions – beyond the surging of cases in the U.S., is that America’s health care system is decentralized, unpredictable and unequal.

Tourism is essential for the economies of many destinations—and the livelihoods of individuals and families—and plays a role in reducing poverty. But right now is not the time for Americans to be traveling.