Culture

Everybody Thinks Of Rio When It Comes To Carnivals—But Other Latin American Countries Celebrate Too: Here Are Mexico’s Top Carnavales

Despite its international reputation for loving a good party, Mexico isn’t known for its Carnival although it is celebrated in one form or another in about 225 communities. Of course none is anywhere as big or famous as those of Rio de Janeiro or New Orleans, but they’re still a lively and fun party nevertheless. In Mexico all carnivals have a different meaning and history behind them, but they’re all colorful and lively parties that are closely linked to the days of ‘mal agüero’ or ‘lost days’ of the Mesoamerican Xalámatl calendar.

Like other Catholic celebrations, Carnival was introduced into Mexico by the Spanish.

It gained acceptance by many indigenous communities because it fell around the same time as the “lost days” of the Mesoamerican calendar. The lost days and Carnival, both share the same traditions of donning masks and letting certain social rules slide.

But when the social rules were sliding a little too much, the Spanish halted the celebrations.

In fact it was those two things that caused colonial authorities to suppress Carnival in New Spain by the 17th century. Celebrations by the indigenous and lower castes had become too irreverent and mocking of authority. By the early 18th century, major Carnival celebrations had been successfully banned in the cities.

A number of small towns however, managed to keep the tradition alive.

A few rural areas managed to evade enforcement, and their Carnivals survived. However, the ban had the effect of isolating such celebrations, one reason why each fiesta has very localized characteristics.

These are the largest and most famous carnavales:

Mazatlan, Sinaloa

One of the most popular carnivals is the one that takes place in Mazatlan. This carnaval is known for being one of the oldest celebrations in the country. At the Sinaloan party you’ll find celebrations like “The coronation of the king of ‘Alegría’ and the carnival queen,” you can go to the inauguration of gastronomic tasting menus, the fantasy dance, and the “quema del mal humor.” Other traditional activities include the naval combat, the dance of the ambassadors and many others.

This carnival takes place from February 8 through the 13. Visit www.carnavalmazatlan.net for more info.

Veracruz

The jarocho carnival is possibly the most famous one. This party is one of the loudest and most  colorful events of Mexico. This year, Veracruz will be crowning a carnival king and queen, for both adults and children. There will be concerts, parades and lots and lots of food. Also, expect the traditional ‘quema de mal humor.’

It will be running from February 7 to 13. For more information go to carnavalveracruz.com.mx

Carnaval de Campeche

Campeche’s carnival is also one of the oldest ones of the country. An important activity is the ‘quema del mal humor’, which is represented by a rag doll dressed as a pirate. Once the doll is set on fire, the ‘festival de las flores’ starts, as well as the popular dances and parades. This carnival will also choose a king and queen who will receive their crowns on a saturday, also known as ‘Sabado de Bando’. Other activities include the ‘ronda naval; a paint fight, also known as ‘pintadera’, concerts and more.

This carnival takes place from January 1 to February 13.

Carnaval de Morelos

The state of Morelos is home to many carnivals. There’s the carnival of Axochiapan, Tlatizapan, Tlayacapan, Tepoztlan, Yautepec and Atlatlahuacan. One of the events that are most representatives of Morelos carnavales is the ‘representacion del origen del Chinelo’ in Tlayacapan.

On from February 7 to March 24.

Merida, Yucatan

The state of Yucatan also has the traditional ‘quema del mal humor’, coronation of the carnival king and queen, as well as parades for children. Other activities include ‘Sábado de Fantasía’, Domingo de Bachata, Tuesday of the battle of the flowers and for the last day of the ‘Celebracion de la carne’ they burry Juan Carnaval.

Carnaval de Pinotepa de Don Luis, Oaxaca

In this small town, the locals put on a satire of Mestizo customs like weddings and divorces called “Danza de los tejorones” —in this dance, the tejorones are young mestizos that dance with a rattle and a handkerchief. At this carnival, you’ll also find comparsas, masks and the staging of ‘the caceria del tigre.’ Visit this carnival throughout February

San Juan Chamula, Chiapas

At this festival, locals dress up as Mash —a monkey— which is one of the traditional attires of San Juan Chamula. They run and hide from bulls that they let loose in the Plaza of San Juan Chamula. This carnival also celebrates the dances of ‘comisarios’, ‘xionales’ and ‘maltajimones.’

Diego Luna Talks The Importance Of The Storytelling In ‘Narcos: Mexico’ And Why Mexico City Will Always Be His Home

Entertainment

Diego Luna Talks The Importance Of The Storytelling In ‘Narcos: Mexico’ And Why Mexico City Will Always Be His Home

Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix’s “Narcos: Mexico” Season 2 comes back to continue the story of enigmatic drug lord Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and the subsequent rise and fall of the Guadalajara cartel he founded in the 1970s, with Diego Luna reprising his role as the mysterious Félix Gallardo.

The show depicts how Félix Gallardo’s eloquence and strategic thinking helped him attain a swift rise to the apex of the Mexican drug cartels. 

For a man of which not much is widely known about, Luna reveals in this exclusive interview with mitú how he was able to dive into his character.

When preparing for this role, Luna said there wasn’t as much research material about El Padrino (Félix Gallardo’s alias) compared to the personal stories of other real-life personalities, such as El Chapo. 

“The good thing for me in playing this role is this man was a very discreet person, he understood the power of discretion,” Luna says.

It was important to see what people said about him—what people say or feel when they were around this character, this perception of him helps a lot. I had to do research and see what was a common answer—people talk about how intelligent and precise and strategic he was, and that’s how I wanted to portray and build this character,” Luna told mitú over the phone. 

Season 2 picks up after the murder of DEA agent Kiki Camarena, with Félix Gallardo enjoying political protection at his palatial home in Mexico.

It’s evident in the beginning scenes of this second season that his rags-to-riches story is starting to unravel and a bit of paranoia is starting to set in that he may have a knife (or gun) at his back at any moment. 

A running allegory used by the characters’ dialogues of the Roman Empire’s eventual collapse and Julius Caesar’s ultimate end foreshadows what we all know will happen to Félix Gallardo—his drug empire will eventually collapse in a smoke of cocaine dust. 

From crooked Mexican politicians and cops to ranch hands trying to make extra money delivering cocaine across the border, the show demonstrates the complicity among the cartels and how far the cartels’ reach.

“Narcos: Mexico” attempts to show that good and evil isn’t always black and white. The story highlights the gray area where even those committing corrupt acts are victims, Luna explained. 

“Some of the characters that take action are victims of the whole system,” Luna said in Spanish. 

The side of Mexico shown in “Narcos: Mexico” has been criticized by some as a side of Mexico stereotypically seen in the media.

However, Luna sees it as a side of the country that is real and must be discussed in order to move forward.

“When this season ends, I was 10 to 11 years old [at the time.] That decade was actually ending. It’s interesting to revisit that decade as an adult and research that Mexico my father was trying to hide from me [as a child],” Luna explained.

Luna says that this type of storytelling is important to understanding the fuller picture of Mexico.

The need for this type of storytelling—the stories that put a mirror up to a country to see the darkest side of itself—is vital, regardless of how complex it is to write scripts about all the facets of a country marred by political and judicial corruption. 

“In this case the story is very complex, it’s talking about a corrupt system that allows these stories to happen. We don’t tell stories like that—we simply everything. With this, I had a chance to understand that complexity. The journey of this character is a presentable journey. Power has a downside, and he gets there and he thinks he’s indispensable and clearly he is not,” Luna said. 

Outside of his role on “Narcos,” Luna is a vocal activist and is constantly working to put Mexico’s art and talent on an international stage through his work, vigilantly reminding his audience that Mexico has culture waiting to be explored past the resort walls of Cancún and Cabo. 

“The beauty of Mexico is that there are many Mexicos—it’s a very diverse country. You have the Pacific Coast that is beautiful and vibrant and really cool. By far my favorite beach spots in Mexico are in Oaxaca, and all the region of Baja California. You also have the desert and jungle and Veracruz and you have all the Caribbean coast and the city is to me a place I can’t really escape. Home is Mexico City, and it will always be where most of my love stories are and where I belong,” Luna said in a sort of love note aside to his home country. 

As much as Luna can talk endlessly about his favorite tacos in Mexico City (Tacos El Güero for any inquiring minds) and the gastronomic wonders of its pocket neighborhoods such as la Condesa, he also wants the dialogue around Mexico’s violence to be shown under a spotlight, as searing as it may be. 

“We can’t avoid talking about violence because if we stop, we normalize something that has to change,” Luna said. 

Perhaps “Narcos: Mexico” can bring some introspection and change after all. Let’s hope the politicians are watching.

READ: ‘Narcos: Mexico’ Season 2 Picks Up Where We Left Off With Félix Gallardo And The Guadalajara Cartel

Mexican Newspaper Slammed After Publishing Graphic Photos Of Woman’s Tragic Death

Things That Matter

Mexican Newspaper Slammed After Publishing Graphic Photos Of Woman’s Tragic Death

SkyNews/ Twitter

In Mexico, the recent brutal mutilation and slaying of a 25-year-old woman are spurning conversations about the country’s efforts to prevent femicide and laws that protect victims from the media.

On Sunday, Mexican authorities revealed that they had discovered the body of Ingrid Escamilla.

According to reports, Escamilla was found lifeless with her body skinned and many of her organs missing. At the scene, a 46-year-old man was also discovered alive. His body was covered in bloodstains and he was arrested.

As of this story wasn’t troubling enough, local tabloids and websites managed to bring more tragedy to the victim and her family by splashing leaked graphic photos and videos of the victim’s body. In a terribly crafted headline, one paper by the name of Pasala printed the photos on its front page with the headline “It was Cupid’s fault.” The headline is a reference to the fact that the man found at the scene was Escamilla’s husband.

According to leaked video footage from the arrest scene, Escamilla’s husband admitted to stabbing his wife after a heated argument in which she threatened to kill him. He then claimed to have skinned her body to eliminate evidence.

Mexic City’s mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, revealed that prosecutors will demand the maximum sentence against the alleged perpetrator.

“Femicide is an absolutely condemnable crime. It is appalling when hatred reaches extremes like in the case of Ingrid Escamilla,” Sheinbaum wrote in a tweet according to CNN. According to reports, Mexico broke records in 2018 when its homicide record reached over 33,000 people that year.

The publication of Escamilla’s mutilated body has sparked discussions regarding the way in which reports about violence against women are handled.

Women’s rights organizations have lambasted the papers that originally published photos of Escamilla’s body and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also expressed criticism of the media’s response to the brutal slaying.

In a press conference on Thursday, President López Obrador expressed his determination to find and punish anyone responsible for the image leaks. “This is a crime, that needs to be punished, whoever it is,” he stated.