Things That Matter

Descendants Of Both Hernán Cortés And Emperor Moctezuma Urge Mexicans To Move On From The Past 500 Years Later

The scars of the Spanish colonization of what is now known as Mexico are still fresh in the racial, social and political relationships that shape the Latin American country. Current president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has continuously demanded Spain and the Catholic Church to apologize for the many crimes perpetuated against indigenous populations during La Conquista and La Colonia, periods in which the European colonizers imposed their will by brute force, enslaving the original owners of the land.

A recent event brought together two of the direct descendants of the Spanish conqueror, Hernan Cortes, and the conquered Aztec emperor, Moctezuma. The meet up was organized by filmmaker Miguel Gleason, who is making a documentary about the conquest. They met at a church were Cortes is buried. 

Yes, it has been 500 years since Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire, fell, but the episode still resonates with today’s Mexicans.

Contrary to other countries that were born out of European invasions, such as New Zealand, the indigenous population in Mexico has not been fully assimilated into political life, and many decisions are made for them in the higher echelons of power.

The story of the conquest is still seen as an us versus them, and even for Mexicans who are casually racist against indigenous people on an everyday basis there is a tinge of historical resentment against the Spanish.

It is important to point out that the Conquista was brutal: it was not the joyous founding of a new country, but a bloodshed that saw the indigenous population wiped out by guns and diseases such as smallpox for which they had no antibodies. It was cruel. To add insult to injury, they were also conquered ideologically and religiously by envoys from the Catholic Church that were hand in hand with the Spanish Crown. 

Un abrazo that is worth a thousand words… but are they empty words?

With much fanfare, surrounded by cameras and reporters, two men shared an embrace 500 years after their ancestors first met in 1519 and changed the history of the world.

Federico Acosta, a Mexican man whose family is directed down 16 generations to the daughter of Moctezuma, met with Ascanio Pignatelli, an Italian citizen related to Cortés’ daughter. Pignatelli’s family held one of  the conquistador’s noble titles, but sold it over 150 years ago. This was a heartfelt moment, but perhaps is was too naive. The event was covered by the Mexican and international media, but one should wonder the impact it could really have beyond the wow factor. Acosta said: “It’s not that there were good people and bad people. It’s that, that’s the way things were done”. Excuse us? 

This was a tender media moment, and it is an ideal scenario in terms of reconciliation. But how much can an act like this actually mean?

Pignatelli told Acosta: “I want to ask your forgiveness for all the bad things that happened. We need to leave the past behind us. Today is a day for leaving all the bad things in the past”.

This apology sounds all fine and dandy, but what does it mean for today’s world?

Acosta said: “We are the fusion of two cultures, the European and ours. We are the result of that meeting, the vast majority of us have Spanish and Mexican blood”.

And what Acosta said is true. Today’s Mexico is made up of a melange of heritages that extends far beyond Spain and the Aztec Empire. On the indigenous side there is Olmec, Mixtec, Maya, Tarahumara and many, many other ethnic groups that are often forgotten and still live under precarious conditions, akin to colonial times. On the European side, there have been German, French, Portuguese, European Jewish and all sorts of migrations. So Mexican identity is much more than an Aztec/Spanish dichotomy. 

Now AMLO is asking for an apology… again.

Pignatelli’s apology is something that the current Mexican president AMLO would like to hear from the Spanish Crown. His government’s ideology is based on a look into history and the many debts accumulated towards the marginal sectors of Mexican society. Among them, of course, are indigenous Mexicans.

He said: “I still ask the king of Spain and Pope Francis, humbly, that they apologize for the abuses committed during the conquest and the colonial domination”. This would be a merely symbolic act, as economic elites dominate the country regardless, oftentimes, of race.

Also, this view perpetuates the us vs them political imaginary that perhaps ends up not being very productive at all. But then again, AMLO’s ideological postulates are based on a revisionist approach to history. 

This Kid Is Going Viral In Mexico For Using His $70 Peso Winning Lottery To Buy Tacos For A Man In Need

Things That Matter

This Kid Is Going Viral In Mexico For Using His $70 Peso Winning Lottery To Buy Tacos For A Man In Need

Mexico News Daily

As 2019 comes to a close there are few things to be optimistic about when it comes to the path that humanity as a whole has taken. It seems that all the wars and cruel processes of colonization and dispossession taught us very little about how awful we can be to each other. At the same time, we are damaging our planet at a fast pace and we are rendering it practically inhabitable for future generations. And no, we are not being dramatic, these are cold facts. 

Let’s be absolutely honest, shall we? The world is a pretty nasty place to live in right now.

Just look at this little blue planet, hard to imagine that so much goes on in it. And for all the good that many people in the world do on an everyday basis, as a species we seem to be in red numbers when it comes to basic human compassion. Just look at Mexico and the US there, sitting side by side, from space no one could imagine that so much suffering is happening at the border when the two countries meet. 

Extremism and discrimination is running rampant.

There is an ideological battle being held between those who believe that some humans deserve more than others based in the color of their skin, and those who advocate for inclusion. It is hard to believe that hate symbols such as the Nazi flag are making an appearance in Global North countries. 

Climate change is rendering even the nicest places in the world unbearable… and cheap labor is still a thing.

This is a picture of Sydney, allegedly one of the best cities in the world to live. But is is now being covered in smoke as a result of bushfires that are likely related to climate change, even if politicians and the coal lobby say the opposite. This year we saw other terrible fires ravage the Amazon while the Brazilian president blamed Leonardo Di Caprio of all people! 

Forced migration has left millions of people without a home.

So people from all sorts of places including war-torn Central America are being forced to flight or die as gangs and cartels take over their country. And they start a perilous trip through Mexico and then towards the United States. They are treated as third class citizens and as criminals, and have to face further suffering even if their journey is, in most cases, nothing short of heroic. So we would think that compassion and generosity is gone forever, right? Well, think again! 🙂 

But you won’t believe what this 8-year-old boy did even if the world kinda sucks at the moment: this is human nature at its best.

This scene might seem as something not totally out of the ordinary. But the story behind it melts our hearts: this Mexican little hero from Uruapan, Michoacán. His proud mom posted on Facebook that Adalid, this tiny champ, won $70 pesos at a lottery. Instead of spending it on candy and toys, he approached an old man who sells candy to survive. The old man looked tired, sad and hungry.

So what did Adalid do? He bought him a nice round of tacos! He told newspaper El Universal: “I saw the viejito arrive to sell [lollipops] but nobody bought from him. He looked very sad and hungry. When I gave him the money, I saw that he only bought one taco so I asked my mom if we could buy him more so that he could eat well”. Are you crying already? Mom couldn’t be prouder and she wrote on her Facebook post: “sometimes as a mom I ask myself if I’m doing my job well . . . but actions like this provide answers to all my doubts.”

This boy’s generosity warms our hearts.

And Adalid, overcome with emotion, started to cry. The chiquito hermoso told El Universal: “I cried because I saw him cry, I saw him wiping away his tears. When he finished [eating] he thanked me and gave me a hug”. Now imagine if we all acted with the same type of compassion towards each other, ourselves and our little blue dot in space. 

This Nude Painting Of Mexican Icon Emiliano Zapata Has Gone Viral But It’s Actually Not Even New

Culture

This Nude Painting Of Mexican Icon Emiliano Zapata Has Gone Viral But It’s Actually Not Even New

Secretaria de Cultura / Fabian Chairez

La Revolución by Chiapas artist Fabian Cháirez depicts Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata riding a white horse. Zapata has his eyes closed as if he was lost in reverie, he’s totally nude, wearing high heels, and a shimmering pink hat — and the horse has a massive erection. 

The painting isn’t new, it is one of 141 works included in the exhibit Zapata Después de Zapata to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the revolutionary’s death. When the Mexican Secretariat of Culture shared the image on Facebook, many users had a polarizing response. Cháirez believes the negative responses are rooted in sexist and homophobic attitudes. 

Zapata’s grandson says he is taking legal action against the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature. 

“We are not going to allow that. That’s why they’re going to take legal action”. Zapata´s grandson said in a statement. “We came here to exhibit the nonsense they did… to exhibit a photograph of our general (Emiliano Zapata) in Bellas Artes”

One would think the issue a critic would have with the image is that there might be an implication of bestiality. No, according to Zapata’s grandson, Jorge Zapata who held a press conference in Cuernavaca  says the problem is that Cháirez painted him as “gay.” 

“What could we call him? An unknown painter, who I think wants fame… he portrays general Zapata as, gay. So I believe that as a family, as a people, where we are clearly Zapatistas, we are not going to allow that,” Jorge said according to the Yucatan Times

Does Jorge think being gay means two men love each other or that a man and a horse love each other? Jorge appears to be more repulsed by the thought of his grandfather possibly liking another man, more so than him being attracted to a horse. 

“Now we’ve done what’s right, we are going to sue them, and we´ll have demonstrations and hold press conferences. We are going to sue both the painter and the person in charge of Bellas Artes.” Jorge said at the conference. 

Art is subjective and isn’t always meant to be literally interpreted, Cháirez appears to be trying to evoke a feeling and a response from the viewer about what the image might mean rather than creating something intended to be taken at face value. 

Many people on social media were also offended by the painting.

“I truly think that the image is offensive for the Mexican leader and hero. I’m not at all against homosexuality . . . but Zapata deserves respect. He was a leader who fought for land rights and freedom. I will never accept the denigration of his image in this way,” Jonathan Gómez Rios wrote on Facebook.

However, others defended Cháirez’s painting, commending the artist for being able to stir controversy as it was clearly intended. 

“I love that a simple painting causes so much controversy. People argue and seethe because of a painting, A PAINTING! Well done to the Secretariat of Culture and whoever’s behind this post. Congratulations!” said another user on Facebook.

Cháirez speaks out in defense of his work of art. 

“The feminine [form of Zapata] is what causes contempt . . . We’re in a super sexist society. There are some people who are bothered by bodies that don’t obey the norms. [But] in this case, where’s the offense? Are they offended because he’s feminized?” he told El Universal.

Cháirez says portraits of Zapata usually glorify his masculinity, while his own works intend to do just the opposite. According to the Yucatan Times, the Chiapas painter is part of the Neomexicanism movement and his works typically portray bodies in ways that challenge traditional stereotypes about masculinity and social mores about sexual orientation. 

“His piece, ‘The Revolution’ questions the macho stereotypes that make up the national identity and makes visible the movements of sexual diversity,” the Yucatan Times writes. “The image has caused great offense among those who defend the memory of General Emiliano Zapata the ‘Caudillo del Sur’ and reject the idea of portraying him as a homosexual.”