Things That Matter

This 27-Year-Old Is Making History In Peru As He Becomes The First Person With Down Syndrome For Congress

With so much chaos going on in our government, whether it’s the shit-talking coming from the president or the shit-talking on the Democratic debate stage, we wish we could have decent politicians that truly want was is best for the citizens. We hope we could have politicians that care more about the people than about their ego. Everyone on Capitol Hill should learn from the following gentleman who wants to make a difference in his community. 

This is 27-year-old Bryan Russell. He is making history by being the first person with Down syndrome to run for Congress. 

“I’m someone clean, honest, transparent,” Russell said in an interview with The Associated Press. That’s the most real talk we’ve ever heard from any candidate ever. 

Russell is running for a seat in the Congress of the Republic of Peru and making history as he is the first person with Down syndrome to seek an office in this capacity. 

“We are thrilled that Bryan Russell is running for Congress in Peru,” Michelle Sie Whitten, president, and CEO of Global Down Syndrome Foundation told the Associated Press. “As far as we know, he is the first professional who has Down syndrome running for a publicly elected office, and he is showing the world that we need diversity in all areas of society, including in our governments.”

But Russell isn’t seeking sympathy votes. He wants Peruvians to vote for him because he is the best person for the job. 

Russell is running under the Peru-Nacion, which is a center-right party. While that party has not fared well in previous elections, Russell could be the person to jump-start the movement with his charming demeanor and his go-get-em’ mentality. Russell was already invited to speak for the left movement, and it was there that he “asked people to fight for people like him, regardless of political leanings,” according to the AP. 

Having Down syndrome comes with so many challenges, but Russell continues to prove that he can do anything if he tries hard enough. 

“I learned how to read and write, walk, run and eat, basically to respect myself,” Russell stated. He went on to say, “I want people with my condition to have a voice.”

If you think for a second that he is not qualified to serve the people and make educated decisions when it comes to policies in Peru, think again. This guy is crazy smart. The AP reports that thanks to the support of his parents, he graduated with a degree in communications at the Peruvian San Ignacio de Loyola University. 

Russell said that with his parent’s encouragement, he was able to find his own way. Gladys Mujica, Russell’s mother, told the AP that her son is a symbol and that by running for Congress, he is making history. Indeed he is. 

We’re not sure what the stigma is like for people with Down syndrome, but in the United States, there are so many negative assumptions about it. 

There are actually assumptions that Down syndrome is caused because of incest, and that is entirely false. 

Here’s how Global Down Syndrome Foundation explains the cause of Down syndrome: “In a process called non-disjunction, the two copies of chromosome 21 fail to separate during the formation of the egg, resulting in an egg with two copies of the chromosome. When this egg is fertilized, the resulting baby ends up with three copies of chromosome 21 in each of its cells. The cause of this non-disjunction remains unknown.”

Furthermore, the cause of Down syndrome is truly unknown because it happens so often. At 38 percent of people known someone with Down syndrome. 

The beautiful thing about Russell is that we see the advancement that people with Down syndrome can achieve. 

People with Down syndrome can accomplish so much and are thriving thanks to organizations educating people about it. Also, it’s imperative that people, in general, show kindness, patience, and understanding when it comes to people with Down syndrome. Voting in Peru will take place on Jan. 26, and we want Russell to know that we are rooting for him!

READ: A PhD Student Made History By Writing Her Entire Thesis In An Indigenous Peruvian Language

Bernie Sanders Faces Backlash For Saying That Not ‘Everything Is Bad’ In Castro’s Cuba

Things That Matter

Bernie Sanders Faces Backlash For Saying That Not ‘Everything Is Bad’ In Castro’s Cuba

berniesanders / Instagram

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is once again touting what he sees as the benefits of Fidel Castro’s Cuba. The Vermont senator first made comments praising parts of Castro’s Cuba in a 1985 interview. Now, 15 years later, Sen. Sanders is standing behind his idea that not everything is bad in Cuba in a 60 Minutes interview.

Senator Bernie Sanders is facing backlash from critics after his 60 Minutes interview because of his comments on Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

In the 1980s, Sen. Sanders was caught on camera more than once praising parts of the Castro regime in Cuba. He points to the health care and education systems as parts of the government that works for Cuban people. The comments resurfaced in 2019 and caused a backlash against the senator in the Cuban diaspora, whose pains are still fresh from the overthrow of the government.

Now, in a “60 Minutes” interview, the Vermont senator has doubled down on his comments that some of the Cuban government is good.

Anderson Cooper – “What is Democratic Socialism?”

Bernie Sanders – “When Donald Trump was a private businessman in New York, he got $800 million in tax breaks and subsidies to build luxury housing. That’s called Socialism. What Democratic Socialism is about is saying, ‘Let’s use the federal government to protect the interest of working families.’”

BS – “We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba. But, you know, it’s simply unfair to say that everything is bad. You know, when Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing, even though Fidel Castro did it?”

AC – “There were a lot of dissidents imprisoned in Cuba.”

BS – “That’s right and we condemn that. Unlike Donald Trump, let’s be clear. I do not think that Kim Jung Un is a good friend. I don’t trade love letters with a murdering dictator. Vladimir Putin, not a great friend of mine.”

The comments have sparked some backlash on social media from Cubans and Cuban-Americans.

Credit: @marcorubio / Twitter

Senator Marco Rubio, who is Cuban-American, has been a vocal opponent of Socialism. He has used the crisis in Venezuela to solidify his point about the dangers of the government system he believes Sen. Sanders wants to start in the U.S. Yet, Sen. Sanders’s point is not that the Castro regime is good. In the “60 Minutes” interview, the senator made it clear that he does not support the Castro regime and the brutality it caused for the Cuban people. However, he does believe there are things we can learn from the Caribbean island about offering health care and education to the population.

One point of contention with the senator’s comments is that the Cuban people didn’t fight back because of the new programs.

Credit: @DebbieforFL / Twitter

The Castro regime is known to have oppressed dissidents and political opponents. Speaking out against the authoritarian regime was not safe. People were jailed, killed, and exiled for standing up to Castro’s rise to power. Families fled the island and settled around the world to escape what they saw as a justifiable threat to their lives and sovereignty.

Some people are sharing personal stories of their families’ treatment under the Castro regime.

Credit: @GiancarloSopo / Twitter

The generational trauma created by the Castro regime is still felt today. Some people used Sen. Sanders’s comments as a chance to tell a fuller story of the government some have praised for their social services.

A clip of President Barack Obama speaking on the same social issues in Cuba is also circulating.

President Obama worked tirelessly to reopen relations between the U.S. and Cuba. He was the first sitting president to visit the island when it was announced that diplomatic ties were reopened between the two countries. Part of being able to open those relations was eliminating the “wet foot, dry foot” policy that allowed Cuban nationals to stay in the U.S. after migrating. This allowed Cubans to be deported back to Cuba, something that hadn’t happened since Cubans first started to flee their homeland. In response, Cubans illegally in the U.S. have been subjected to ICE raids and detention for the first time because of President Donald Trump’s increasing escalation against the immigrant community.

There is a lot of concern from Democratic supporters that the comment could cost the party Florida in the general election if Sen. Sanders is nominated.

Credit: @IvanBrandon / Twitter

The Cuban and Cuban-American population in Florida is a key demographic to win the state in general elections. His comments cherry-picking what is and is not good about the Cuban government is having a resonating effect in Florida. Cuban Democrats and Republicans in the state are untied in rebuking the senator’s comments as glossing over the true victimization and terror millions faced.

READ: Bernie Sanders Praises Fidel Castro And His Revolution In Cuba During Resurfaced Interview From 1985

Puerto Rican Model With Down Syndrome Stuns At New York Fashion Week

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Puerto Rican Model With Down Syndrome Stuns At New York Fashion Week

sofiajirau / Instagram

The world of fashion is notoriously a parade of homogeneity. While certain brands make valiant attempts to diversify the faces and designs that represent their lines, it’s true that there is a world of progress to be made. Which leads us to our praise and worship for Sofía Jirau.

Sofia Jirau is a 22-year-old Puerto Rican model with Down Syndrome.

She is, to say the least, a true jefa whose recent appearance on the runway at a New York Fashion Week show is undoubtedly a game-changer. While walking the runway this past week, the model lived out her dream of not only modeling in New York but also shaking up its fashion scene.

“When I was little, I looked myself in the mirror and said, ‘I’m going to be a model and a businesswoman,’” Jirau told People in a recent interview.

And just look at her now.

Jirau got her start back in 2019 when she signed with INprende, an agency that works to represent models and faces like Sofia. Since making her deal, Jirau has gone on to model for designers like Kelvin Giovannie and Marisa Santiago. 
“I was born for this and I want to show the world that I have everything a model needs to shine,” Jirau wrote in a post about her NYFW debut on Instagram.

Here’s to hoping for more of this!