“With this angel, I realized I could be free in spite of being in jail.”
Tattoos tend to be a part of life behind bars, so much so that some inmates even become talented tattoo artists just to kill time. But, prisoners in Mexico City’s North Prison are actually making a living by tattooing on leather instead of skin.
The intricate designs tattooed on leather become custom handbags sold in five boutiques in Mexico City. Edgar, one of the inmates working on this craft, sees this as more than a paying job or pastime. “With this angel, I realized I could be free in spite of being in jail,” he said. “I can express myself with what I do.”
It also allows for a way to connect with his family. “I don’t have to ask my family for stuff anymore. Instead, I have something to give, even if it’s not much. I’m no longer begging for stuff to be able to survive here,” Edgar said. On a monthly basis he makes about $800 and he splits it between the prison and his family.
This type of program is run by the Prison Art Foundation and it provides jobs for 200 inmates in four different prisons. The handbags have been selling so well, they will start selling them in Tokyo and New York.
Pascual Cruz and Alejandra Mejía, both in their 80s, did not have the means to pay the taxes, which other residents have denounced as abusively high.
After hearing that the couple had been refused the right to take the donkey food and water during its detention, animal rights activists in the state united to file an animal cruelty case with the state Attorney General’s Office.
Oaxaca animal rights group president Hilda Toledo said that activists had planned on going to Río Dulce to protest but the town is considered dangerous and outsiders must solicit authorization to enter, so they chose the legal route.
It all started when a couple in their eighties allegedly didn’t pay taxes.
A donkey was booked into the town jail in San Sebastián Río Dulce, Oaxaca, apparently for unpaid property taxes.
In a truly cruel move, the city’s tax agent ordered the animals arrest so that the elderly couple wouldn’t be able to transport the firewood they use for cooking. But Pascual Cruz and Alejandra Mejía, 88 and 86-years-old respectively, say they’ve been caught up in a power struggle between groups trying to take control of local resources.
Authorities in the Mexican state of Oaxaca came to seize the couple’s burro.
Even though the couple says they only use the burro for domestic uses around the house, not for economic gain, the tax agent seized the donkey and placed it in the town jail.
The incarceration was denounced by the Network of United Animal Rights Activists of Oaxaca.
“It may not be of much interest or importance to others, but it is for the animal’s owners,” said the organization in a Facebook post, “given that it is one of their most valuable possessions, since they use it to transport firewood from the hills to their home.”
The burro was being held without food or water and many people around Mexico were upset by the animal cruelty.
The couple also claims to have been refused the right to take the animal food and water during several days of imprisonment.
Many people around the world were really concerned for the donkey – some even writing to PETA for help.
One Twitter user wrote to to PETA and. Arjona animal rights supporting celebrities including Ricky Gervais. It’s not clear if any of them were involved in the release of the burro.
Strangely, this isn’t the first time a donkey has been placed under arrest and thrown behind bars.
Another Mexican donkey landed itself in jail after biting and kicking two men.
The animal was locked up in a holding pen normally used for keeping drunks off the streets after it lashed out at the pair at a ranch in Chiapas state.
The owner of the angry burro, Mauro Gutierrez, was told that he‘d have to pay the injured men’s medical bills before the creature is released from custody.
If there’s one instrument that best describes Mexican music is has to be the accordion. While the musical key instrument known as a squeezebox has its origins in Europe, it indeed came alive in Mexico as the staple sound in rancheras and cumbias. There is only one musician who thrived through the accordion sound, though sadly that is now a thing of the past.
Celso Piña, known as the “The Accordion Rebel,” died yesterday at the age of 66.
The Mexican musician was in his hometown of Monterrey, Mexico, and was soon scheduled to g on tour, but had a heart attack and died at the hospital.
La Tuna Group, Piña’s record label, confirmed in a statement that he died yesterday at 12:38 p.m. after suffering a heart attack.
“Today is a sad day for La Tuna Group,” they stated, “Our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and followers. We are left with an intense emptiness, but he leaves us his great legacy forever. We appreciate respecting the privacy of the family.”
Piña seemed to have been in good spirits earlier in the day and tweeted for the final time. “No one can resist the cumbia,” he said.
The self-taught musician had been touring off and on for months. He also had upcoming shows in Georgia and Texas.
The Grammy-award winning musician had a musical career that spanned 40 decades, and aside from his musical stylings as an accordion player, he was also a composer, singer, and arranger.
Piña had collaborated with several contemporary artists including Lila Downs, Julieta Venegas, Cafe Tacvba, and Gloria Trevi, Variety reports. He was also more than a cumbia musician. His sound also fused into other musical genres, including norteña music, hip-hop, ska, reggae, and more.
Several celebrity fans and collaborators tweeted their heartfelt condolences.
According to the Grammy Academy, Piña got his hands on his first accordion in 1980. He taught himself how to play and performed with his brothers. “Together, they went on to play norteña and tropical music, eventually adding cumbia to their style,” the Academy states. “The brothers became known as ‘Celso Piña Y Su Ronda Bogotá,’ giving a nod to cumbia’s motherland.”
Fans on social media also expressed how much Piña meant to them.
One fan, @iphadra, tweeted, “his greatness of # CelsoPiña is not due to its successes or fame in the 5 continents. It is because it was he who came to claim the music of the marginalized.” @JJ4rmCh tweeted, Rest In Peace Celso Piña, no one fucked it up on an accordion like u did.” But this tweet we could totally relate to from @jennjenn1_ who tweeted, “It wasn’t a real quince or wedding until you played some #CelsoPiña ❤️🇲🇽 🎶🎶🎶 may his music live on for generations to come.”
Writer Melissa del Bosque had the honor of being able to interview him. She tweeted, “Hearing ‘Barrio Bravo’ for the first time was a life-changing experience. Celso Piña and Toy Hernández, of Control Machete, had created a whole new hybrid mixing Colombian cumbia with the anarchy of urban streets. I went directly to Monterrey to interview El Rebelde del Acordeón. Here we are at Cafe Brasil, one of his favorite haunts. As I wrote then, when ‘Cumbia Sobre el Rio hit the airwaves there wasn’t a car from Chicago to Chiapas that didn’t have the bass booming and the sonic onslaught layered with accordion rattling their windows.’ #RipCelsoPina.”
Last year, Piña visited one of his biggest fans, who is also an accordion player just like him. The two performed in the streets of Tamaulipas, Mexico.
Herrera recalled what it was like hearing that his musical idol had died. The young musician told El Universal that he was with his daughter when he heard the news that Piña had died. He said he couldn’t believe it, and all the memories from his incredible visit with him last year rushed back to him. He said it was a dream to have been able to perform with him.
Here’s a couple of his most beloved and hit songs.
Here’s “Cumbia Sobre el Rio Suena” live and with an orchestra! He had such a distinct voice and sound. There was no one else like him.
“No Sea Conmigo”
This was his collaboration with Cafe Tacvba. So lovely! We dare you not to dance to this one.
What’s your favorite Celso Piña track? Let us know in the comment section below. Rest in power, Celso!!