Things That Matter

A Mexican-American Now Holds One Of The Highest Positions In The US Catholic Church, Could This Be An Anti-Trump Statement?

The Catholic Church has had a varied position in the political spectrum in contemporary times in the Americas. While in South American countries such as Chile and Argentina it has aligned with conservative governments and those in power, in the United States this centuries-old institution has traditionally been seen as a progressive force that generally innovates when it comes to the inclusion of ethnic minorities (they are, however, still pretty conservative when it comes to gender and sexual diversity, and reproductive rights).

It should not come as a surprise that the conclave of US Catholic bishops just made a pretty big decision by choosing an immigrant archbishop as perhaps the highest ranking priest in the country. He is a defender of migrant rights and can potentially be highly influential with the Latino vote come the 2020 presidential election. 

José Gomez, an immigrant of Mexican heritage was just named the next president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

In vernacular terms, this is a BFD. Archbishop José Gomez leads the Church in Los Angeles, a key jurisdiction when it comes to important affairs such as immigration, bilateral relations with Mexico and progressive agendas that the Church traditionally opposes, such as same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana. Los Angeles is also the largest archdioceses in the country, in part due to the large population of Latinos and Filipinos, who are traditionally born and raised Catholic.

He was elected almost unanimously with 176 votes from his fellow bishops, with just 18 votes going to his opponent, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, who was subsequently voted vice president.

America The Jesuit Review sums up his background: “Archbishop Gomez, who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, was ordained to the priesthood in the Opus Dei prelature in 1978. In 1980, he received a doctorate in sacred theology from the University of Navarra, in Spain. He served as a priest in Texas from 1987 to 2000”. Even though he comes from one of the most conservative congregations in the Church, the Opus Dei, he has made a career by defending the rights of the marginalized.

He is a defender of migrants and a fierce supporter of DACA, so his election could be read as a political statement.

Credit: America The Jesuit Review

Archbishop José Gomez has long defended migrant rights, which has made him popular among the Latino population of Los Angeles, one of the most multicultural metropolis in the world. Even though he had been serving as vice-president and his election followed tradition, some argue that it is also a sort of unofficial positioning of the Catholic Church against the iron-fisted immigration policies of the Trump administration, which have brought immense suffering to Latinos in the greater Los Angeles area, including forced family separations and deportations by the now despised government agency ICE. 

He doesn’t hold his words back when it comes to border affairs and the human crisis at hand.

Credit: The Intercept

As The New York Times reported, the archbishop said after his election: “We have this situation at the border, which is a tragedy. We are constantly talking about immigration, especially encouraging our elected officials to do something, and to come up with immigration reform that is reasonable and possible”. Traditionally the separation of Church and State has been pretty clear in the United States, but as some Christian Evangelical denominations have become quite tight with the Trump White House and validate its tough policies, perhaps the Catholic Church will be a counterbalance when it comes to political lobbying in defence of migrant rights. 

He was born in Mexico and now defends DACA recipients.

Archbishop Gomez, contrary to many men of the cloth, is very direct when it comes to his political position. In the eve of his election he read a message for DACA recipients from the pulpit, just as the Trump administration is fighting to reverse the program and as the president has called some DACA recipients “criminals” on Twitter.

The message read: “In this great country, we should not have our young people living under the threat of deportation, their lives dependent on the outcome of a court case. So, we pray tonight that our president and Congress will come together, set aside their differences, and provide our young brothers and sisters with a path to legalization and citizenship”.

As we said, he doesn’t hold back. This is an elegant way of opposing the POTUS without being confrontational. He also believes that there is a Latino wave in the Church, given that the Pope is Argentinian: “The fact that the pope is a Latino makes us feel a responsibility for the church. He has been a great blessing for me and for the church. For Latinos, it’s easy to understand some of the wonderful things Pope Francis is doing to reach out to people”. 

California Man Is Using His Culture To Create Hilarious And Super Relevant Mexican Greet Cards

Culture

California Man Is Using His Culture To Create Hilarious And Super Relevant Mexican Greet Cards

paper_tacos / Instagram

Jesus Ruvalcaba was an artist looking for more creative freedom in his life. Even after getting a job as an art director at eBay and Hewlett-Packard in Silicon Valley, the then 36-year-old felt complacent. It was a stop at a grocery store when he went to buy his mother a birthday card that a light bulb flashed in his head. 

“I looked at all these cards but couldn’t find something that resonated with my Latino culture,” Ruvalcaba said. “I felt that an entire population group was being ignored.”

That night planted the seeds of what would eventually become Paper Tacos, a greeting card business focusing on Mexican culture and traditions. From get well soon messages that read “sana sana colita de rana” ((heal, heal little frog) to birthday cards that read “sapo verde,” Ruvalcaba had tapped into a demographic that wasn’t typically represented in the greeting card business. 

“I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt like this,” he said. “This was more than just about a greeting card but seeing my culture being seen.” 

Ruvalcaba, the son of two Mexican immigrants, got most of his inspiration growing up in the Central Valley fields of California. He worked alongside his parents in the isolated artichoke fields where he learned to draw. 

Credit: Jesus Ruvalcaba / Paper Tacos

Ruvalcaba knew he wanted to be an artist at a young age and says growing up he would usually be found carrying around a sketchbook full of drawings. He didn’t grow up with much as his parents were Mexican immigrants who worked tirelessly as fieldworkers in the central California valley in cities like Castroville and later in Salinas. 

“My parents didn’t really know a lick of English so my drawings did a lot of the talking for me,” he says. “We didn’t have much growing up but they would buy me art supplies and always encouraged me to keep drawing.”

Those drawings would pave the way for a career in animation as Ruvalcaba became the first in his family to graduate college obtained a degree in graphic design at California State University Monterey Bay and eventually his Master’s degree. Shortly after, he would find himself in Silicon Valley working for companies like eBay and Hewlett-Packard as an art director. 

Ruvalcaba knew he could still do more with his talents. After attending a Dia de los Muertos art event in 2016, he met another artist selling Spanish prints with Mexican slogans. He was then reminded of that night at the market when he couldn’t find a Spanish greeting card for his mom. 

“It hit me right there and then that if I could come up with greeting cards that have Mexican sayings like “sana sana colita de rana,” I could tap into a market that was never really acknowledged prior.” Ruvalcaba said. 

After receiving encouragement from his girlfriend, Ruvalcaba put his illustration skills and graphic design experience to work as he produced his first set of 15 cards for 300 dollars. In Fall 2017, Paper Tacos became a reality. 

Credit: Jesus Ruvalcaba / Paper Tacos

About a year after the idea of Paper Tacos first came up, Ruvalcaba attended the same art festival from the year prior and sold his first greeting card for $5 apiece. The response to the cards was immediate and customers told Ruvalcaba about what it meant to see their culture on a product like this.

“It felt like my idea was validated in a way and seeing everyone respond so positively to Paper Tacos was just the cherry on top,” said Ruvalcaba. “From there it only got even bigger.”

In the following months of 2017, Paper Tacos made its launch and by the end of 2017, he had made $2,000 within just three months of launching his site. In 2018, he had made over $12,000 in sales and today has over 20K followers on Instagram alone. When he started the business, there were only 15 card designs which have now grown to over 100. He’s also branded outside of California and is currently selling his greeting cards at 25 stores throughout the country.

For Ruvalcaba, Paper Tacos hasn’t been just any business move or a little extra income revenue. It’s a tribute to his Mexican background and a reflection of his culture that he feels is being celebrated every time one of his cards is given. 

Credit: Jesus Ruvalcaba / Paper Tacos

When asked about where his inspiration for his greeting cards come from, Ruvalcaba says his parents. Those long days working along with them in the artichoke fields and holidays where all they had was each other. 

“Every card is a reflection of me growing up in a Mexican household and other people have connected with that,” said Ruvalcaba. “When I brainstorm ideas I just look back to my childhood.”

That connection is something special he says. While Ruvalcaba still has a full-time job as a designer in Santa Clara, if things keep going the way they are, Paper Tacos will become his main focus. 

Through Instagram, Ruvalcaba has begun working with more freelancers to keep growing Paper Tacos and get more artists opportunities. His business plan is to expand to other Latino backgrounds to work and reach out to Salvadoran and Nicaraguan artists so that they too can see representation.  

“This business has shown me how powerful this product can be and every time someone tells me the impact that these cards have had on a family member or a friend, it sticks with me,” Ruvalcaba says. “It’s a special thing to know a simple greeting card can do this.”

READ: Patty Delgado Is Changing The World Of Latino Fashion With Her Own Store Hija De Tu Madre

Terrifying Video Shows A Mexican Teenager Killing Two People In A Pickup Truck

Things That Matter

Terrifying Video Shows A Mexican Teenager Killing Two People In A Pickup Truck

@lpueblo2 / Twitter

Footage of a teenage assassin asking his driver to film a cold-blooded double homicide has gone viral, putting pressure on local officials in Mexico to make an arrest. Just days before Christmas, at an otherwise normal traffic light in the border city Ciudad Juárez, a teenager turned to his driver and simply said, “Record, Cruz,” before he hopped out the car, approached the driver’s side of a red pickup truck and firing off nearly 20 gunshots. He walked back to the car, hopped in, and the footage ends as we see the driver making a u-turn as they drive away from the scene of the crime. 

Local media in Mexico had widely reported both the identity and news of the arrest of the suspect, but, unfortunately, only one of those pieces of information is true. Officials have redacted the name of the perpetrator believing he might be underage.

The footage of a teen believed to be underage shooting in the pickup truck is shocking.

CREDIT: @LPUEBLO2 / TWITTER

Without hesitation, the teen is seen walking in front of his getaway car toward the driver’s side of the red pickup truck target. Officials suspect that he asked the driver to film him as proof that he got the ‘job’ done for whoever ordered the hit. At around 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 22, 2019, the teen sicario followed through on the hit job and killed two men in just under 30 seconds. 

He is seen mercilessly firing over a dozen rounds into the driver’s side as the driver unsuccessfully tries to drive away.

CREDIT: @LPUEBLO2 / TWITTER

The pickup truck begins to creep forward as the driver likely understands to flee from danger, but was immobilized by the onslaught of bullets. The two victims were confirmed dead, but their identities have yet to be revealed. The shooter is seen briskly walking back to his getaway car when the traffic lights change. Traffic begins to move again but the shooter and his accomplice quickly merge into opposing traffic and escape seamlessly.

The teen has since been confirmed by local media reports as drug cartel hitman, with an already horrific rap sheet. According to La Opinion, the sicario likely belongs to one of the five cartel groups that operate in Chihuahua, Mexico: Neuva Gente, of the Sinaloa cartel (CDS), Los Mexicles, La Línea, of the Tijuana cartel (CAF), Los Aztecas or Los Cristaleros.

The teenager has targeted and killed other people in Ciudad Juárez, which lies just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

CREDIT: @LPUEBLO2 / TWITTER

According to the perpetrator’s existing criminal record, he lives in Colonia Bellavista, and heavily operates in Ciudad Juárez. The teen had already been arrested for assassinating a couple in Ciudad Juárez. Police arrested him, captured the above mug shot, but he wasn’t stopped from killing others. His mugshot began circulating social media and local outlets began to report that he had been arrested for his most recent crime.

As shocking as the crime is to many Americans, Mexicans are quick to comment “Every day in #Mexico.”

CREDIT: @LPUEBLO2 / TWITTER

Murder rates are on the rise in Mexico, with 2019 becoming the third deadliest year for Ciudad Juárez of the 2010s. On average, 4.1 people were murdered every single day in Ciudad Juárez last year, with a total of 1,498 homicides total last year. Still, compared to 2010, the number of homicides in the city are less than half of what they were at the beginning of the decade. “The sad daily reality of Mexico…” one Twitter user comments, adding in Spanish that, “For 1,000 pesos, less than 50 euros, a hitman can eliminate a person with total impunity.”

Still, others are wondering aloud what the victims did to provoke the target of the cartel. “I do not like to criminalize, and even less criminalize the dead, but it is very rare that they arrive and kill you anymore,” commented Indio Rey (@IndioRey30). Others are lamenting that “the laws do not help since he is a minor,” though it’s hard to contest what the video shows so clearly. Somebody opened fire and killed those two men and requested that the murder be recorded.

READ: A Local Police Chief Has Been Arrested In An Alleged Connection To The Murders Of The LeBaron Family In Mexico