Things That Matter

People Commemorate The Guatemalan Genocide No One Talks About

In 2013, former Guatemalan dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt was convicted for crimes against humanity and genocide he committed 30 years ago against the indigenous Maya Ixil people.

Credit: @inspiractionorg / Instagram

The 89-year-old was sentenced to 80 years in prison, but three years after the trial, that verdict is still up in the air.

The Constitutional Court, pressured by the elite and the military who were afraid of their fate after Ríos Montt’s sentence, threw the verdict out and set a retrial. Human rights lawyers and two of the judges criticized the move as an absurd intervention.


Absurd to say the least, because, during the trial, victims described horrific crimes committed during Ríos Montt’s rule.

#Repost @opensocietyfoundations with @repostapp. ・・・ Massacre survivor Sebastian Iboy Osorio, 50, steers a boat on the Chixoy reservoir along with wife Magdalena Alvarax, 48, and daughters Adaly (left), 5 and Paulina, 7. Iboy Osorio, originally from the Achi Mayan community of Rio Negro, survived the massacres carried out by the Guatemalan army and civil patrolmen from neighboring Xococ against residents of Rio Negro in 1981 and 1982. Nearly 400 community members of Rio Negro were killed in four separate massacres due to the community's resistance to give up their lands and make way for the Chixoy hydroelectric project. Rio Negro, Rabinal, Baja Verapaz, Guatemala. Hello, this is James Rodríguez (@mimundo_org), Mexican-US documentary photographer based in Guatemala since 2006. This week I am honored to share images via the @opensocietyfoundations Instagram feed from my long term project on Life in Post-War Guatemala. After a brutal 36-year civil war (1960-1996) that left over 250,000 victims, the tiny Central American nation, with an Indigenous Mayan population of over 50% and one of the most violent and economically polarized societies in the western hemisphere, still reels from the harrowing conflict. All photographs have been taken with a phone. Iboy Osorio returned to Rio Negro in the early 1990s along with two other survivors and have currently grown into a community of 24 homes. Electric service was finally established in August 2015, but each house was charged 2,150 Quetzales (US $280), something they believed should be waived considering their original town was flooded to make way for a hydroelectric project. Most of the residents of Rio Negro live below poverty levels making less that US $2 per day. #opensociety #humanrights #documentary #photojournalism #postwar #guatemala #everydayguatemala #everydaylatinamerica #everydayeverywhere #genocide #ixil #achi #riosmontt #bn #bw #achi #maya #mayan #chixoy #hydro #hydroelectric #hidroelectrica #embalse #dam #reservoir #electricity #electric #electricidad

A photo posted by James Rodríguez / MiMundo.org (@mimundo_org) on

Credit: @mimundo_orga / Instagram

Men, women and children testified, describing how the women were gang-raped and how their family members were torn to pieces right in front of them. How they were forced to leave their home and escape into the jungle for years seeking safety.


In her essay for the Huffington Post, human rights activist Jo-Marie Burt said, “During Ríos Montt’s rule, the Guatemalan state’s official policy was to exterminate its indigenous population in the name of national security.” For this, Ríos Montt was to go to prison.

Credit: @jomaburt / Twitter

The verdict was a victory for the indigenous people because, as Burt says, it was “the first time a high-ranking military official was being sanctioned for grave violations of human rights in Guatemala. The first time ever a former head of state was held accountable for genocide in a domestic court of law.”


The retrial has been rescheduled many times, sometimes due to Ríos Montt’s dementia. It has also changed from a public trial to one behind doors. This, however, isn’t discouraging Guatemalans. In their eyes, the first verdict still stands, and they will continue to fight impunity.

Credit: @nobelwomen / Instagram

As Juan Francisco Soto, executive director of the Center for Legal Action for Human Rights, says, “What is surprising is that we were able to bring the case to court and see it through. We proved in a court of law that there was a genocide in Guatemala.” Even though the verdict was overturned by dirty legal moves, “For us,” he says, “the sentence is still valid.”

Get more details on this genocide trial here


READ: Real Life Risks Guatemala Immigrants Take to Make It to America

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After A Black High School Wrestling Student Had His Hair Sheared Off, New Jersey Passes Law About Hair Discrimination

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After A Black High School Wrestling Student Had His Hair Sheared Off, New Jersey Passes Law About Hair Discrimination

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Get ready New Jersey! Your workplaces just got a whole lot more inclusive and curly.

Natural hair discrimination or discrimination based on hair texture has been one of the greatest forms of social injustice against Black people for much too long. Found worldwide, hair discrimination targets Black people with afro-texture hair. The issue strikes at afro-textured hair early in school and unfortunately follows us into the professional world where Black curls have often been deemed unprofessional, ugly, and unclean. 

New Jersey is throwing out hair discrimination with the trash this month.

The state is the latest in the United States to join the ranks of other states working to banning natural hair discrimination. The new bill makes the state of New Jersey the third in our country to enforce a law that requires workplaces to allow hair of all types in the workplace. In the past two years both California and New York have instituted the changes.

The measure, legally known as S3945, alters the state’s Law Against Discrimination, which protects people from discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race or other categories.  In its changes, the measure works to prevent discrimination of people on the basis of  “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles.” You can bet your bottom dollar this protection includes like twists or braids which means say hello to more locs at your local Starbucks, chicas!

New Jersey is a state that has dealt with issues related to Black hair discrimination frequently.

Last December in 2018,  Black high school wrestler Andrew Johnson in New Jersey was forced to cut his locks by a referee just before a match. The news made national headlines and prompted outcries of discrimination throughout social media. This month, the state legislature introduced a bill that would similarly update New Jersey’s discrimination law to include protection for “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles.”

Democratic State Assemblywoman Angela McKnight said she felt compelled to push for the change when she saw the humiliation and discrimination that Johnson endured during a meet. 

Speaking to NJ.com, McKnight said she cried when she first saw the images of Johnson’s hair being cut off.  “He had to choose between, do I move forward with something that I love to do versus with my hair that I love. He had to choose which one. That should not have been a choice,” she said. “This is a movement to protect Black citizens from systematic discrimination because of a hairstyle. We’re more than that. This is a civil rights issue.”

Black men and women are too often forced to change their looks and behaviors to account of the Eurocentric standards that we have enforced to forcefully in our country. As more Black people embrace their natural hair and beauty, it’s important to allow space for this. Particularly in education- associated institutions related to after school activities. Mostly because doing otherwise will only prompt more kids to try to conform to impossible to achieve standards.

To keep up with the movement Check out these curly chicas and their spot-on tips!

“Find a natural hair salon.” – Vilma Peguero

When you need your wisdom teeth removed, you don’t go to a philosopher, do you? Same logic applies to hair. Black Latina Negra Bella co-founder Dania Peguero would had never begun her natural hair care journey if it hadn’t been for the salon experts who taught her how!

“Give your hair some loving.” – Alba Ramos

Having beautiful, healthy, shiny-looking curls takes time and love. But it is totally worth it. Sun Kiss Alba was the first person to share with me the basics of curly hair care, and I’m pretty sure you’ll love her videos, too! She covers everything from maintenance and cleansing to cute hairstyles, just for curly hair.

“YOU ARE NOT ALONE.” – Carolina Contreras

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Cada palabra que coloco en este y todos mis espacios lo hago con mucho cuidado, amor, integridad y honestidad porque la verdad es que uno nunca sabe hasta donde pararán esas palabras. Las coloco sin comprometer mi etilo y quien yo soy, y sin sentir que debo de complacer a todo el mundo. Este mañana vi una publicación sobre lo que paso con la joven en el colegio en una de las páginas de noticias más populares, The Huffington Post. No se pueden imaginar las cadenas de televisión y radio que me contactan cuando pasan estas cosas y yo siempre digo que NO. No me gusta ir frente a una cámara o detrás de un micrófono a menos que tenga algo concreto que decir. No obstante, esta publicación, que originó de otra que hicieron Remezcla, una página Latina que me ha mostrado muchísimo apoyo y cariño este año, cubrieron el tema sin ser sensacionalistas y simplemente documentando los hechos como los puse aquí, sólo que los tradujeron al inglés. Ustedes no quieran imaginarse las cosas que nos llegan al salón que nunca llegan a las redes sociales. Por suerte cuento con un equipo que más allá de ser estilistas y administradoras, están constantemente siendo entrenadas para poder manejar estos y otros casos. Dándole a la mujer un espacio seguro para que se desahogue y las palabras de aliento y herramienta para que se defienda y se empodere ante su esposo, madre o jefe. Estamos a tan sólo días de darle la bienvenida a nuevas integrantes de Miss Rizos Salón y más allá de enseñarles a como cortar cabello rizado o hacer una definición de rizos, me emociona que las chicas y yo tendremos nuevas aliadas quienes nos ayudaran a continuar erradicando la discriminación por el cabello o cualquier otra cosa que nos identifique como lo que somos. Gracias a estos medios de comunicación por hacer eco de esta problemática y de hacer un reportaje con un tono de esperanza. Cc: @remezcla @huffingtonpost http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/miss-rizos-stands-up-teen-shamed-by-school-for-rocking-natural-hair_us_5785596ae4b0867123dec85c

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Miss Rizos isn’t just a beauty blogger, she’s an activist who works day and night to educate women from all over the globe on how to care for their pajones (she heads up a natural hair salon in Santo Domingo), as well as how to embrace who they are, culturally and racially, with absolute pride. Not always an easy task, but definitely a rewarding one.

“Clap your hair.” – Ona Diaz-Santin

Wait, what? Yeah, clapping your hands with your hair between you palms after styling and when your hair is fully dry is Ona’s, a.k.a. The Hair Saint’s, secret for bouncier, fuller, lovelier curls. This woman is a true curly hair magician!

“Use your fingers.” – Bianca Alexa

Ditch your comb! It’ll only mess with your natural hair structure. Your very own fingers are actually your best friends for detangling and styling your curls.

“Forget shampoo.” – Rocio Mora

If you must shampoo your hair, go for a paraben-and-silicon-alcohol-free option. Better yet, stick with natural hair products and ditch your shampoo altogether. Let conditioners and deep scalp managers take care of your cleansing and moisturizing needs without stripping your beautiful hair of its natural, protective oils.

“Chop it.” – Mel Burgos

We curly chicas can sometimes feel like our hair just isn’t growing fast enough, which makes us super afraid of cutting it. The thing is, the only way to keeping curls healthy, in shape–and YES, longer–is by trimming it every every eight weeks or so.

“Mix and match.” – Ada Rojas

Lose your fear of natural products; your hair will forever be grateful! Also, because each chica’s curls are created differently, it’s best to experiment with different hair product cocktails until you find the ones that work the best for you.

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Three Men In Mexico Were Forced To Strip Naked And Walk The Streets As Punishment For Stealing 15 Cows

Things That Matter

Three Men In Mexico Were Forced To Strip Naked And Walk The Streets As Punishment For Stealing 15 Cows

Mexico’s everyday life, particularly in rural areas, is full of surprises and events that the average gringo would find too strange to be true. Such was the case of a recent robbery in the state of Veracruz. Three men were caught stealing 15 cows, which is a very significant asset and someone’s actual livelihood if you subsist by raising crops and producing farming goods such as milk. So they of course had to be punished in some way, and because people in some areas of Mexico (and we would dare to say in the country at large) mistrust the authorities, some citizens take matters in their own hands.

This is a symptom of a decades-long mistrust in the authorities or the real repercussions that criminals will face given the high levels of corruption at all levels of government that the new administration wished to eradicate (just how they pretend to do it remains largely unclear!). 

So first things first: yes, this was their punishment for stealing the cows, holding hands while totally naked

Credit: @QuePocaMadre_MX / Twitter

The punishment by public nudity took place in Suchilapan del Río, in the municipality of Jesús Carranza in Veracruz. The three men were caught right con las manos en la masa. The man who recorded the video, which has made its rounds on Mexican social media, made the robbers confess to their crime while naked and holding hands in the middle of the street. According to La Verdad Noticias, one of these men is a butcher, which makes perfect sense given that he was attempting to steal cattle. They are standing on Independencia street, right in front of the meat producers association. 

The news was broken by the Twitter news dissemination site @QuePocaMadre_MX which translates into something like “You gotta be kidding me, that’s rough, man!” 

The case has not been completely solved and whether the authorities have done anything on this matter is unclear. The case has garnered some attention in local media, so we might hear more about this. It is important to note, however, that while highly unlikely the video might actually be staged (we gotta at least entertain that possibility until we know otherwise!). 

The story might seem funny or chusca at first, but if you dig a bit under the surface there is a far darker undertone.

Credit: @QuePocaMadre_MX / Twitter

For one, the video evidences an almost total gap of authority in this municipality. The fact that these guys (criminals, if we are being honest) were forced to display public nudity to atone for their actions is almost laughable, but it also shows that law enforcement in the are has been decimated to reach a level of ridicule that can make headlines. Let’s not forget that Veracruz is one of the most violent states in the country, and since Los Zetas emerged in the 2000s and challenged the Cartel del Golfo, it has also become an epicenter of the cartel wars. This lack of government action lends itself to semi-funny situations but should not be taken lightly. 

The people made them hold hands, which is a clear sign of homophobic mob mentality.

The fact that the men were forced to hold hands and do a display of pretend homoeroticism is also an indicative of the prevailing homophobic views shared by some Mexicans. In everyday Mexican lingo, words that denote a queer identity are used as token insults and one of the cruelest ways to harm diverse genres and sexualities is making them an insult. We also have to consider that Veracruz has a very dark history when it comes to hate crimes against the LGBTQ community. Crimes against trans individuals, for example, are common and most of the times end up in impunity. Even though same-sex marriage is legal, measures such a conversion therapy are legal as well. 

And there is a thin thin line that separates forcing three men to get naked and an actual lynching, which has been a sad and brutal feature in contemporary Mexico.

Perhaps this story might seem amusing at first, but it also recalls some recent incidents in Mexico in which criminals are caught by the population instead of the authorities and then things escalate and lynching happens. People have been bashed to death, set on fire and dismembered in public. In some instances the lynched are guilty of crimes, often of sexual nature, but it has been the case that a disgruntled neighbor starts a rumor that has fatal consequences. Because there is such a climate of uneasiness and impunity in the country, people have even ambushed police cars carrying suspects. We are of course not saying that justice should not be served, but when it is an eye for an eye everyone ends up blind.

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