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21 Latin American Flags And The Stories Behind Them

Latin America hasn’t been the same since Europeans arrived some several hundred years ago – but through the long and complicated stories of colonization, liberation, and resistance, most countries eventually found their way to independence from Spain and are on the way to loosening the grip of Europe and the U.S. on their people.

Each and every country that broke away got the chance to design its own flag and bring a narrative to their new-found freedom. Some of them might even surprise you!

1. Mexico

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Mexico’s beautiful tricolor flag features an eagle eating a snake high atop a prickly pear cactus. This is actually an Aztec legend behind the building of Tenochtitlan – now Mexico City. The Aztecs described a leader named Tenoch having a dream brought to him by Huitzilopochtli, the god of war, that dictated where to settle his people. In the dream, he was to settle where the eagle landed, eating his snake.

2. El Salvador

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The Salvadoran flag shines in blue and white, representing the two oceans that flank Central America, the Atlantic and the Pacific. The white middle represents peace. In the center shines the Coat of Arms, consisting of a triangle with five volcanoes rising out of the sea, representing the five states of the United Provinces of Central America.

The blue in the flag, however, hosts another secret meaning. El Salvador’s history is deeply tied to indigo because of its use by Native Mesoamericans. When Europeans invaded, they referred to it as “blue gold.” In fact, the indigo plant and the dye it produces dominated the country’s economy until it was replaced by coffee cultivation. Even so, El Salvador remains one of the few countries in the world that farms indigo specifically for its precious blue dyes.

3. Argentina

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Argentina’s beautiful flag also prominently features the blue and white colors present in many Latin American flags. The Sun of May that smiles down from the heart of the flag also features in the Paraguay flag and represents Inti, the Incan sun god.

Why is it called the Sun of May though? The month is a reference to the May Revolution, which took place in 1810 and marked the beginning of independence of many Latin American countries from Spain. A legend claims that as the people broke away from their colonizers, the sun broke through the clouds and was a sign of victory for the independence movement.

4. Brazil

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Brazil’s beautiful green flag pays a homage to its Portuguese history with the yellow rhombus in the middle. The blue globe in the middle is the key to the more unique story, with the white stars within representing the Brazilian Federative Units (or states). According to Brazilian, the number of stars must always be updated to reflect the number of recognized states. When the flag was first adopted in 1889, it boasted 21 stars. Today, it shines with 27.

5. Panama

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While Panama, like many countries today, lives in a state of rival parties, the flag tries to do them justice as shared parts of a history. The stars and quarters stand for the competing political parties, blue representing the conservatives and red representing progressives. The white in between the colors represents peace.

6. Cuba

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Cuban history is fraught with revolution, and its flag carries that turbulent history with it. The red triangle harkens to the French Revolution and the three ideals of liberty, equality, and brotherhood. The white stripes represent peace in between the three blue lines, which represent the three departments in which Cuba was divided years ago. The real topper? The white star was once the vision the United States had of adding the island as its new state. Even though Cuba would never become an American territory, it proudly held on to the star amidst the revolutionary red for years to come.

7. Bolivia

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The lush nature of Latin America is not lost on the Bolivians, who made sure to feature a bright green stripe on their flag to honor fertility and forestry. The yellow is another homage to the country’s abundant natural resources, reflecting Bolivia’s mineral deposits. The red reminds citizens of the brave soldiers who fought for the country’s independence from Spain.

Despite being landlocked, Bolivia keeps a naval design at its heart to honor its rivers and lakes. But that’s not all – because Bolivia has a dual flag, and that’s means this is a two-part story.

8. The Wiphala

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The Wiphala flag is the Quechuan emblem and flag that represents the native people of the Andes, and not only is it recognized as the second national flag of Bolivia, it is also embraced by the people of Peru, Ecuador, and parts of Argentina, Chile, and Colombia. The seven colors represent the visible spectrum, with it’s highlighting color of violet representing Andean government and self-determination.

9. Honduras

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The Honduran flag, like other Central American flags, highlights a white stripe in between two blue ones, representing the land between the Atlantic and the Pacific. The white also presents peace and prosperity for its people, along with the purity of their thoughts and hopes. The five stars arranged in an X pattern at its center highlight the five nations of the former Federal Republic of Central America – El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala.

10. Costa Rica

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The French Revolution had a deep impact on the Costaricans, as is evidenced by their flag’s story. The flag was designed by Pacífica Fernández, wife of former president José María Castro Madriz, back in 1848. Inspired by what she saw happening in Europe, she saw fit to incorporate the French tricolor – red, white, and blue. The blue represents idealism, the white represents purity, and the red represents those who died in the fight for independence. At its heart, the flag shows off an isthmus between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea with three volcanoes. 

11. Dominican Republic

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The Dominican Republic’s flag also features the popular red, white, and blue colors, with blue standing for liberty, white for salvation, and red for the blood of heroes and martyrs to the cause independence. In the middle of it all, the national coat of arms shows off a palm frond and a bay laurel branch, dedicated to the country’s tropical habitat and splendor.

12. Venezuela

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The beautiful Venezuelan flag is relatively recent in its current state, having been last updated in 2006. The original design, however, dates back to early revolutionary Francisco de Miranda and his 1806 attempt to liberate Venezuela from Spanish rule. Although he did not succeed, he is widely revered for his perseverance as he laid the groundwork for the country’s independence which came later. Miranda’s flag, brightened by blue, yellow, and red would later also become the inspiration for the flags of Colombia and Ecuador.

Miranda claimed his flag colors were inspired by the fact that these were considered the primary colors in color theory. It is said that when discussing the revolution with German writer and philosopher Johann Wolfgang con Goethe, Miranda shares his account of the United States Revolutionary War along with his travels throughout Europe and the Americas. Goethe told him that, “Your destiny is to create in your land a place where the primary colors are not distorted.”

Later, the words would follow Miranda and he kept true to them when designing the flag. It is also said that the yellow represents the riches and wonder of Venezuela, while blue presents the seas surrounding the country and red represents the bloodshed in the revolution.

13. Chile

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Chile’s flag might remind you of another flag: Texas? Anyone?

The two flags even share a similar name, with The Lone Star being the name of both of them (in Chile, it is referred to as La Estrella Solitaria). 

However, the stories and colors behind the flags are different – and Chile’s flag refers to something that Texas definitely doesn’t have: the Andes. The white on Chile’s flag represents the snow covering the enormous mountain range that runs like a spine down the country. The blue represents the oceans, and the red represents the lives lost in the country’s fight for independence from Spain.

The star in the Chilean flag represents a guide to progress and honor, and sometimes it is also seen as a symbol of an independent state. And that rebellious nature may be the one thing that ties La Estrella Solitaria to The Lone Star.

14. Nicaragua

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At first glance, the Nicaraguan flag and Salvadoran flag may look very similar, but there is one key difference: the Nicaraguan flag features a rainbow. The rainbow is a symbol of the country’s bright future, surrounded by the white that represents peace and the blue that represents the seas surrounding Central America. Like the Salvadoran flag, this flag features the five volcanoes to commemorate the United Provinces of Central America.

And here’s a little-known fact: that tiny stretch of purple included in the rainbow makes Nicaragua one of only two flags from a sovereign state to include the color, alongside the flag of Dominicana.

15. Peru

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The Peruvian flag is distinct in its absence of a lot blue, something most Latin American flags have at a lot of. Instead, red features prominently, representing the blood spilled to gain independence from Spain. White represents purity and peace amidst the chaos and gives a backdrop the country’s coat of arms.

In the heart, the coat of arms shows off Peru’s abundant natural resources. The vicuña, Peru’s national animal, sits next to the chinchona tree, the source of quinine, a powerful anti-malaria medicine. On the bottom, a bag overflowing with coins represents the abundance of minerals that Peru has to offer.

16. Ecuador

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Inspired by the primary colors and Francisco de Miranda’s design for the Venezuelan flag, the Ecuadorian shows off the primary colors in an effort to remember the primary ideals of the independence, and of the country’s resources. The yellow represents the crops and fertile soil, the blue represents the ocean and clear skies, and the red again here stands for the fallen who gave their lives to secure independence from Spain. 

At the heart of the Ecuadoran flag is the coat of arms, which features Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador. The mountain is also part of the Andes, the mountain range that runs down Latin America. Down below the mountain runs a bright blue river, and atop it all flies a condor stretching out its wings to symbolize power and strength for the country.

17. Guatemala

Credit: @rich.per / Instagra,


Guatemala honors its beautiful natural landscape and fauna with the resplendent quetzal, their national bird and symbol of liberation. The bird graces a piece of parchment declaring the date of Guatemalan independence from Spain in 1821 and also features a daring pair of crossed rifles. The rifles are a homage to the country’s indomitable people, who are willing to defend themselves and their humanity by any means necessary. The crossed swords at the bottom echo the sentiment and represent honor, and are surrounded by a bay laurel crown to celebrate victory against their colonizers. 

18. Colombia

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Yet another beautiful flag featuring the primary colors, the Colombian flag is inspired by revolutionary Francisco de Miranda’s work in Venezuela and throughout Latin America to free people from Spain’s rule. In this specific flag, the yellow has come to represent the richness of Colombian soil, along with harmony and agriculture. It also represents the sun, a source of light and joy. The blue, as is custom, represents the sea and the sky, while the red represents the blood spilled in the quest for independence from Spain. It also represents the fact that although Columbia’s people have had to struggle, they have thrived.

19. Belize

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If ever there was a flag to say “we are serious here, stop trying to colonize us” it is definitely the Belizean flag. Featuring a Mestizo and African man in unity bearing an ax and an oar, the coat of arms also pays homage to the country’s logging history and the tools of the trade – including a mahogany tree. Below a ship sails, and below still an important motto to remember on any hot summer Belizean day: Sub Umbra Floreo, or “Under the Shade I Flourish.”

20. Uruguay

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Uruguay’s bright flag features the Sun of May, just like the Argentinian flag does. The Sun of May is a prominent symbol of the revolution against Spanish rule in Latin America in May of 1810, as legend has it the sun came out from the clouds portending a victory for the rebels. The sun also represents Inti, the sun god of the Incan religion, and is a point of indigenous pride. 

21. Paraguay

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Paraguay, inspired like so many countries by the French Revolution, boasts red, white, and blue as its flag’s colors. A more unique feature of the Paraguayan flag? It differs on its obverse and reverse sides, with one showing the national coat of arms, and the other showing the seal of the treasury. The national coat of arms features a bright yellow star surrounded by a green wreath of palm and olive leaves tied with ribbons in the flag’s official colors. The branches are widely accepted as symbols of peace of victory.

The other side hosts the symbol of the treasury – a lion in front of a staff and the Phrygian cap, a hat associated with freed slaves in Ancient Rome and democracies, usually shown in contrast to crowns, a symbol of monarchies.

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Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

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Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

Things That Matter

Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

If you’ve ever wondered what someone with a bulletproof vest and an AR-15 would look like flossing — the dance, not the method of dental hygiene — apparently the answer to that question can be found on TikTok.

Unfortunately, it’s not as a part of some absurdist sketch comedy or surreal video art installation. Instead, it’s part of a growing trend of drug cartels in Mexico using TikTok as a marketing tool. Nevermind the fact that Mexico broke grim records last year for the number of homicides and cartel violence, the cartels have found an audience on TikTok and that’s a serious cause for concern.

Mexican cartels are using TikTok to gain power and new recruits.

Just a couple of months ago, a TikTok video showing a legit high-speed chase between police and drug traffickers went viral. Although it looked like a scene from Netflix’s Narcos series, this was a very real chase in the drug cartel wars and it was viewed by more than a million people.

Typing #CartelTikTok in the social media search bar brings up thousands of videos, most of them from people promoting a “cartel culture” – videos with narcocorridos, and presumed members bragging about money, fancy cars and a luxury lifestyle.

Viewers no longer see bodies hanging from bridges, disembodied heads on display, or highly produced videos with messages to their enemies. At least not on TikTok. The platform is being used mainly to promote a lifestyle and to generate a picture of luxury and glamour, to show the ‘benefits’ of joining the criminal activities.

According to security officials, the promotion of these videos is to entice young men who might be interested in joining the cartel with images of endless cash, parties, military-grade weapons and exotic pets like tiger cubs.

Cartels have long used social media to shock and intimidate their enemies.

And using social media to promote themselves has long been an effective strategy. But with Mexico yet again shattering murder records, experts on organized crime say Cartel TikTok is just the latest propaganda campaign designed to mask the blood bath and use the promise of infinite wealth to attract expendable young recruits.

“It’s narco-marketing,” said Alejandra León Olvera, an anthropologist at Spain’s University of Murcia, in a statement to the New York Times. The cartels “use these kinds of platforms for publicity, but of course it’s hedonistic publicity.”

Mexico used to be ground zero for this kind of activity, where researchers created a new discipline out of studying these narco posts. Now, gangs in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and the United States are also involved.

A search of the #CartelTikTok community and its related accounts shows people are responding. Public comments from users such as “Y’all hiring?” “Yall let gringos join?” “I need an application,” or “can I be a mule? My kids need Christmas presents,” are on some of the videos.

One of the accounts related to this cartel community publicly answered: “Of course, hay trabajo para todos,” “I’ll send the application ASAP.” “How much is the pound in your city?” “Follow me on Instagram to talk.” The post, showing two men with $100 bills and alcohol, had more than a hundred comments.

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