Things That Matter

Amid A Year Of Heartbreak, These Were The Moments That Gave Us Hope In 2020

Looking back on 2020, there will be the standout moments: where you were when you realized the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic; when you found out that the shutdown was coming to your town, your city; for millions of Americans, the moment you lost your job; for millions more, when you found out that a parent or loved one had gotten sick or died from the disease; for nearly everyone, the moment you found out you’d lost a friend or treasured icon.

It was a series of emotional moments because everything else was the same — stuck in our homes, it became hard to differentiate between days, weeks, months. It was only the moments that stood out.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, as many people stood up and gave us hope amid the uncertainty and loss.

People took to the streets to march for Black and Brown lives.

People, for the most part, stayed inside when told to. We were bored, lonely, horny, scared, appalled — but people stayed home if they could. But then the recent killings of several unarmed Black people — George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and sadly even more since them — renewed and reinvigorated the Black Lives Matter movement.

People had been watching the news out of the U.S. for months, seeing the undeniable reports that Black and Latinx communities had been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, the petulant incompetence of an administration that repeatedly and calculatedly failed those communities, and the destructiveness of a deeply broken health system. And after months of social distancing, those who could do so safely took to the streets, and faced a police response that more than proved their point.

Bad Bunny brought attention to anti-trans violence in Puerto Rico.

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Throughout his rise as the world’s biggest reggaetón star, Bad Bunny has been known to challenge the genre’s hypermasculine ideals. But he stepped into LGBTQ+ advocacy when he brought mainstream attention to the murder of Puerto Rican trans woman Alexa Negrón Luciano by paying tribute to her on Fallon in a live performance this February. Considering he also made his drag debut in his “Yo Perreo Sola” video this year, it’s refreshing to see a global superstar breaking down gender norms and rallying behind the trans community.

Crowds clapped to celebrate our front-line workers.

For many people, staying at home meant just that: work from home, relax at home, socialise at home, cook at home, and do your best to get through it. For healthcare and support workers, though, this has not been an opportunity to catch up on the Netflix queue. In a few places, it’s been a full-on horror movie; in most places, it’s meant ethical dilemmas, long hours chafing in PPE (some of it improvised amid shortages), heartbreaking FaceTimes with next of kin, and angry or terrified members of the public.

Kamala Harris speaking for women everywhere when she told Mike Pence, “I’m speaking.”

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It was a moment that resonated with exasperated women around the world: During the vice presidential debate, after Mike Pence had interrupted soon-to-be Vice President Kamala Harris for the umpteenth time, she quietly but decisively stated, “Mister Vice president, I’m speaking. I’m speaking.” Shortly after the debate, it became a trending sound on TikTok, remixed with Megan Thee Stallion’s “Girls in the Hood.”

We got a new president-elect and a soon-to-be-over Trump presidency.

It was one joyous day in the middle of the worst year ever — when the networks began calling Pennsylvania for Biden, and it dawned on the country that there might be a light at the end of this Trumpian tunnel. Philadelphia had come through with enough votes to clinch the election. 

Marijuana legalization and criminal justice reform sweeps across the country.

Credit: Paul Demaron / Getty Images

How many of us were biting our nails on election night, dreading the possibility of anther four years under a Trump presidency? Well, despite the drawn out process for presidential results, we got to see historic wins for cannabis legalization.

Six legalization initiatives were on ballots across the country; six initiatives passed. Mississippi got medical weed. New Jersey, Arizona, and Montana got recreational. South Dakota became the first state to vote in both medical and recreational at the same time. There’s a lot of bad things to say about 2020, but at least we can look back on it as a tipping-point year in ending the disastrous War on Drugs.

A cute af owl emerged from the less than cute Rockefeller Christmas Tree.

there a better metaphor for 2020 than the typically majestic and inspiring Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree being unearthed this year as a decrepit shell of its fallen brethren of years past? But for optimists — should any still exist — a 2021 metaphor arrived soon after in the form of Rockefeller, a diminutive owl that emerged from the arboreal wreckage. 

Scientists developed a vaccine for COVID-19 in record-breaking time.

In November, the world heard the news that not one – but three – COVID-19 vaccines under development reported promising levels of effectiveness, with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine being approved and rolled out in the UK in December.

Lil Nas X was the best, most unapologetic gay rapper on the internet.

Lil Nas X wasn’t the first mainstream rapper to come out of the closet, but he’s definitely the first to truly have fun poking fun at the homophobia often associated with the genre. His unapologetic confidence — from rapping about bottoming to dressing as Nicki Minaj for Halloween — is inspiring, and watching him playfully respond to homophobes who needlessly take offense to his actions is a never-ending delight

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

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When it comes to international happiness rankings, Mexico has long done well in many measurements. In fact, in 2019, Mexico placed number 23 beating out every other Latin American country except for Costa Rica. But in 2020, things looks a lot different as the country slipped 23 spots on the list. What does this mean for Mexico and its residents? 

Mexico slips 23 spots on the World Happiness Report thanks to a variety of compelling factors.

Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, the new report indicates.

“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.

The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.

Mexico has struggled especially hard against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started, Mexico has fared far worse than many other countries across Latin America. Today, there are reports that Mexico has been undercounting and underreporting both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths. Given this reality, the country is 2nd worst in the world when it comes to number of suspected deaths, with more than 200,000 people dead. 

Could the happiness level have an impact on this year’s elections?

Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.

But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.

Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.

Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.

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These Were The Moments That Defined Latin America In 2020 That Weren’t About COVID-19

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These Were The Moments That Defined Latin America In 2020 That Weren’t About COVID-19

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2020 will easily go down in manny of our memories as the year that just wouldn’t stop. As the year started, it all seemed to be sort of fine as the world came together to battle record-breaking Australian bushfires and worked to hopefully contain an outbreak of a strange new virus in China.

However, as the year comes to a close things have gone de mal a peor for the world in general, but for the Latino population in the United States and Latin America as a region in particular. Though it’s hard to realize just how much we all witnessed and experienced since so much of what happened seems like it was a lifetime ago.

Here’s a look back at some the defining moments from 2020 across Latin America.

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira kicked off the year hopeful with a history-making performance at the Super Bowl.

Yes, believe it or not, this happened in 2020. The pair put on what many have called the best half time show in Super Bowl history. They were also joined by J Balvin and Bad Bunny.

Bolivia’s Evo Morales was forced into exile, only to return to the country in November.

After being forced into exile at the end of 2019 for attempting to illegally run in upcoming presidential elections, Morales spent a year abroad – first in Mexico and then in Argentina.

Mexico’s President AMLO made his first trip abroad to visit Donald Trump at the White House.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is a staunch populist and has long said his primary focus is domestic policy within Mexico. Therefore, despite two years in office, AMLO hadn’t left Mexico once. So it came as a surprise when his first trip abroad was a visit to the U.S. leader who had long disparaged Mexico, the government, and Mexicans – not to mention his trip came in the middle of a global pandemic.

Migrant caravans continued to make their way towards the U.S. despite interference from Mexico and Covid-19.

Migrants attempting to make their way to the U.S. isn’t unique to 2020. For decades, migrants have long banded together for safety in numbers along the treacherous journey to the north. However, they became larger and better organized in 2020, perhaps owing to the new dangers of Mexican interference.

Mexico’s AMLO vowed to stop migrants from reaching the U.S.-Mexico border, adhering to Trump’s request. It was also noteworthy because the caravans continued despite the Covid-19 crisis, which has hit the region particularly hard.

Peru saw three presidents in the span of a few weeks after massive protests.

Peru is facing one of the greatest crises the nation has faced. Just as the country seemed to be emerging from the worst of its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, the country has entered a severe political crisis.

The country’s elected president, Martin Vizcarra, was impeached and removed from office. His predecessor responded with a heavy hand to the protests that ensued resulting in his resignation less than 24 hours later. The government then had to find someone willing to take the job which proved to be a tough sell.

In fact, massive protests swept across Latin America.

From Mexico in the north to Cuba in the Caribbean and Chile in the south, protests were seen all across the region. Although each movement had it’s own stated goal and objectives, many were largely borne out of the same purpose: to fight back against corruption.

Brazil’s President Jaír Bolsonaro tested positive for Covid-19 but it did nothing to change his approach to the pandemic.

Jaír Bolsonaro has long been compared to Donald Trump, with many calling him the Donald Trump of South America. The two were also strongly aligned in their responses to the Coronavirus pandemic, with the pair largely downplaying the severity of the crisis.

Then, Bolsonaro became infected with the virus and many hoped it would change his view on the crisis. It didn’t.

A growing feminist movement developed in Mexico, demanding protection from a shocking rise in violence against women.

Mexico has long been battling endemic violence and the country has continued to see record-setting rates of homicides. But it was the growing rate of violence against women, particularly femicide, that gained national attention.

Women banded together and started large nationwide protests. Over the summer, women in the capital of Mexico City occupied government buildings and destroyed many of the city’s most popular monuments to hopefully get their message across. Although the movement has gained more recognition by Mexicans, the government has still failed to address their concerns. Let’s hope things are different in 2021.

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