They’re a tiny, colorful Spanish-brand lolli that’s sold in most grocery stores. Yes, they were tightly wrapped, but most would say the struggle was worth it. [If you were deprived and you don’t know what Chupa Chups are, we’re sorry ?]
But you probably don’t know the Colombian lollipops, Bon Bon Bums.
While the rest of society is tapping into how nature is a significant signaler to our emotional and spiritual needs, Latinos grew up finding meaning in every change in the wind, and every dream. We’re superstitious AF, but we’re also highly in tune with nature.
We’re also chugging soda and eating Goya beans from a can because it’s 2019 and we have full-time jobs and three other gigs to get to. Whatever you have on your plate today, these zodiac-aligned sodas are destined to be more effective for you, hijo de las estrellas.
Aries (March 21 – April 19)
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Honey, the arrangement of the stars this summer is signaling you to stay off the ‘gram. Get away from social media and get out of your head. There’s nothing like a sweet, tropical Jupiña to take with you to the beach or mountains.
Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
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Taurus’s are often misunderstood as lazy, but the fact is that you are more in touch with your self and your needs than any other sign. You’re free from the shame of indulging as an act of self-love. So when you have a Malta, you definitely add condensed milk to it to maximize the effects of every self-treat. Plus, it reminds you of drinking Malta as a niño and feeling like you could kick your feet up with the beer-drinking adults.
Gemini (May 21 – June 20)
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You’re represented by celestial twins–signifying a range of meanings, primarily to represent your many interests. The story goes that the goddess had so many passions, she doubled herself to get it all done. Cuba’s Iron Beer hasn’t decided whether it’s root beer or cream soda, and that’s because, like you, it can be both.
Cancer (June 21 – July 22)
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This summer, your space is yours. Whether you’re staying home to reflect and refuel your tank or burning up that gasolina on the dance floor, Jarritos stay with you. Nourishing both your home realm and your social side will be important for you. Pro tip: spiked Jarritos is even better.
Leo (July 23 – August 22)
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Leo, your allure could be spotted from a mile away. Inca Kola’s neon yellow bubble gum flavors will make you glow in the dark. Don’t play like that doesn’t sound like your dream.
Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
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The energies of the lunar eclipse in Capricorn is still inspiring productivity like never before in you, hermit. Topo Chico is not a soda, per se, but it is a bubbly drink that you can enjoy anytime. Whether you’re drinking it straight from the bottle at your desk or adding your favorite fruits, Topo Chico is the only bubbly you need to keep you in the zone.
Libra (September 23 – October 22)
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Ooh, Libra, your summer is set to look very physically (read: so much sex) active. You always have many people vying for your attention, but as you work on building trust with your chosen partner, you’re going to need to hydrate. Materva is brewed with mate leaves, giving you a bit of caffeine (alongside 40 grams of sugar, but who’s counting) to fuel your love life.
Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)
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Like Mexican Coke, you, scorpion, have a cult following. But this month isn’t about what other people think of you. No matter the expectations of you, it’s time to turn inward and go back to old wounds that cause all the classic drama in your life. Don’t worry, when you let it go, you’ll still be a classic inside and out.
Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)
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Travels are in your future, Sagittarius. There’s nothing more germane to its country of origin than Colombiana soda. Its bubble gum scented cream soda flavors will always remind you of the importance of honoring the place you visit.
Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)
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Fellow sea goats–it has been un mes tan pesado. No te preocupes–instead of trying to find out where you fit, it’s time to realize you belong everywhere in this world. You’re not just a Mundet, you’re an elusive green apple cider. Embrace your individuality. It will set you free.
Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)
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You, Aquarius, are in a humanitarian activist mode. With Puerto Rico’s police force firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, PR’s favorite soda, Kola Champagne, will be fuel for your fire.
Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
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Our favorite water-lovers can take their game to the next level this summer with Coco Rico. This soda is here for you when you want to drink out of a coconut on the beach, but with more sugar and carbonation. It’s next-level water, básicamente.
This is a story of a surprising find in a tranquil Australian suburb. What unfolds is a tale of hidden illegal activity and a surprise discovery. This all happened back in 2017, but legal proceedings are putting the spotlight on this case again. Cases like this bring to mind how many Latin American communities are stigmatized due to the incidence of drug-related crimes in the region, and how global cartels expand internationally. These processes of stigmatization not only affect everyday interactions but also wider policymaking, as the recent discussions around the proposed border wall in the US-Mexico border have highlighted.
First things first: Australia is hard to reach for drug cartels.
Oceania is the last bastion for international drug cartels. Australia, in particular, is heavily guarded but also has miles and miles of coast that is practically impossible to fully surveil. Cartels, however, have found ways to enter this market. In recent years, journalistic accounts of the role that international criminal networks have in the distribution of drugs in Australia has sparked public concern and debate. According to recent research published in The Age, “Australians consumed illegal drugs worth $9.3 billion in 2018”. The presence of organizations such as the Sinaloa Cartel in Australian cities and its role in the ice epidemic has sparked concerns among journalists and policymakers. The Australian media is up in arms every time the cartels are identified in the country. As reported by Daily Telegraph on January 28, 2019: “The Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel, described as the most ruthless and deadly in the world, has joined forces with the increasingly dangerous Nigerian crime network in Sydney to carry out large-scale drug importation.” This story, for example, plays with fears of foreigners in a society that sometimes tends to be insular and afraid of immigration. Are reports like this generating stereotypes?
This is where this story begins:
Sylvania is like any upscale suburb in the ultra-expensive beachside city of Sydney, Australia.
Houses in Sylvania often reach the $1 million AUD mark. It is a pretty relaxed place with a mostly white population, but with pockets of Asian and Greek migrants. It is the synonym of a relaxed Aussie beach suburb. Nothing much happens and everything is usually closed by 7 p.m.
There is some old money around, and plenty of new money.
When we said homes can easily reach a million, we were talking about the lower end of the spectrum. A four-bedroom apartment goes for more than two million Australian dollars. But look at those views!
From the outside, a suburban home in Sylvania was just another ordinary, sleepy household.
Nothing to suspect. Just a comfy couch and a bookshelf lined with Lonely Planet travel guidebooks.
The cops suspected something was going on so they searched the property.
The Australian Federal Police was investigating a Sydney-based Colombian gang that was involved in the distribution of border-controlled drugs. The police were also following the trails of a money-laundering operation believed to be operated by Colombians. This all happened in 2017, but the details of the case are just being released as part of a court proceeding. As Australian Government News reported on July 12, 2019: “On 10 July 2019, the Supreme Court of NSW made orders which restrained a residential property in Sylvania, NSW, under section 19 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth) based on the allegation the property was used in, or in connection with, various drug offences under the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).”
This is what they found behind the now-famous bookshelf: and now the police is trying to seize the property.
The authorities believed that the house was actually a custom made to fit in the illegal drug operation. For this reason, the authorities are looking to confiscate the house. In addition, the authorities charged a 45-year-old man (the police hasn’t disclosed his name for legal reasons) with multiple drug-related offenses: supplying cocaine, being in the possession of cannabis and, as reported by The Sun UK, ” dealing in proceeds of crime with a value that reached around $100,000.” This man pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years and six months in federal prison.
Drugs, high tech transmitters, they really had everything they needed to run a drug business.
According to The Sun UK, police found that the property “was full of cash, replica weapons, tasers, and wireless transmitters, police confirmed”. This was a big hit on organized crime in Australia, a country that is hard to penetrate for drug cartels due to its tight borders and geographical isolation. There are also very few cases of police corruption. Officer Penelope Kelton, Coordinator of Criminal Assets Litigation, said (as per The Sun UK): “The ability to confiscate items used in the commission of crimes sends a clear message to the criminal underworld – if you commit the crime, we are prepared to target your assets. Drug-related crime puts a great strain on the community through increased health care costs, associated property crime and other forms of violence. It is only reasonable that police can fight back on behalf of the community by targeting those who seek to profit from inflicting this misery.”
Drug trafficking is a significant issue in Australia for multiple reasons.
The illegal distribution and consumption of narcotics through global networks of criminal complicity is a significant social problem worldwide and public health concern in most Western countries, including Australia. Alongside the distribution of drugs, negative stereotypes about Global South populations run rampant. In particular, Latin American citizens from countries like Colombia and Mexico are stigmatized due to the negative image their home countries have in relation to the drug wars.
Representation matters: not all Latinos are drug dealers!
Alongside extremism and terrorism, since the 1990s international criminal networks have been framed as one of the main challenges to Western democracies, a place formerly held by the Soviet Union and left-leaning countries. This understanding of recent world history has the potential to generate stereotypes that could influence national and international discussions regarding border security, as seen in the recent debate in the United States concerning the construction of a Southern border wall.
How stories like these are told in the media influences the way in which Latinos living in English-speaking and Global North countries are perceived. Australian newspapers emphasized the fact that those arrested were Colombian, which further adds to the bad rep that the country has in the Southern Hemisphere. To this, we have to add that most references that Australians and non-Latino Americans have of the region are through TV shows and movies. As a recent editorial by Hector Tobar published in The New York Times pointed out: “By the next network upfronts, or summer movie blockbuster season, Latino drug operatives may outpace their chief rivals — jihadist terrorists and Russians mobsters — and become the country’s leading screen bad guys”.
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