Things That Matter

Some Mexicans Are Freaking Out Over This Drag Queen Who Dressed Up As La Virgencita To Make A Political Statement

La Virgen de Guadalupe is perhaps the most venerated figure in Mexico. Regardless of religious beliefs, la Guadalupana has become a cultural and national symbol, as it contrasts with the predominantly white images of saints and other religious figures (although if we talk about historical accuracy, chances are that Jesus and his disciples looked mostly Brown, as Middle-Eastern folk).

La Guadalupana is Brown-skinned and symbolizes the mixed-nature of Mexican mestizo culture. On one hand, the Guadalupana is derived from Catholicism, on the other it also echoes Aztec deities such as the goddess Tonantzin Coatlicue, which anthropologists believe the culture around La Virgen de Guadalupe echoes.

Truth is that Mexico is a country that venerates the Virgen de Guadalupe perhaps above all things, in particular each December 12, when millions of worshipers travel from all around the country to venerate her at the Basilica of Guadalupe, the place where Juan Diego, an indigenous man, claims to have encountered her. 

So it came as a shock to some that a drag queen from Mexico City dressed up as La Virgen de Guadalupe.

Credit: margaretyya/ Instagram

Her stage name is Margaret y Ya and she has caused controversy with this very artistic picture that reminds us of the work of Italian photographer Mario Testino. In the image, we can see Margaret y Ya posing with shopping bags.

In the photo shared on her Instagram, she writes an ironic caption: “Bendita seas Santa Virgencita Claus ????????✨ que nos llegaste a evangelizar con consumismo y materialismo estas épocas. ????❄️ ????” This roughly translates as: “Bless you Santa Virgencita Claus, you that brought consumerism and materialism to this time of the year”.

This is more a political and social commentary rather than a religious one, as December 12 has become the kick off of the end of year holidays and its many weeks of frantic shopping. The photo was taken by Mario Aragon and the composition highlights irony. Margaret y Ya told El Universal that her idea was to critique the ways in which religion often becomes a commodity. This is perhaps a slightly blunt way of doing it given Mexico’s sociocultural context, but hey, sometimes the only way of getting people’s attention is being over the top and fabulous. 

And as can be expected, some conservative minds (and many abuelitas, we are sure) pusieron el grito en el cielo, while others just chilled.

We mean, this photograph was meme-ready even from its inception, wasn’t it? So it came as no surprise that some in Twitter used it to expand on the “I’m gonna tell my kids this is…” meme universe!

But it is also clear that Margaret y ya had a very clear audience in mind.

Yes, she wanted to make men and boomers angry, which is exactly what she did! And isn’t art supposed to be provocative in order to make us think, really think about preconceived notions we might need to reconsider?

The question is tough but philosophically interesting: how much of religion is associated with buying and selling stuff? The image was part of Margaret y Ya’s 2018 calendar, but as it resurfaced it got more attention than ever before. 

And some dudes got really angry…

Credit: Valladolid Yucatan Pueblo Magico / Facebook

These two dudes are basically saying that no one messes with La Virgencita and that a sacred symbol should not be tainted. Man, take a chill pill. Comments on the original story at El Universal reveal a deep contrast between those users who yell blasphemy at the first chance, and those who can find a bit of nuance in artistic expression. 

But when it comes to Catholic countries such as Mexico, mixing popular culture and religion with art is prone to cause a lot of controversy. Madonna was almost banned from the country for the “Like a Prayer” video.

A Christ-like figure who was black! That was considered blasphemy at the time, as was the fact that Madonna looked at him lovingly. Seriously, this was a BFD a few decades ago, and for years las buenas costumbres in Mexico dictated that the singer was a persona non grata.

Other works of art, such as Martin Scorsese’s monumental film “The Last Temptation of Christ”, have also been banned and considered blasphemy, as they are interpretations of texts that are considered dogma (infallible truths), and as interpretations they might differ from what the Church says.

This is something similar to the mild scandal involving Margaret y Ya, as she took a longstanding symbol and used it to critique a capitalist way of living that perhaps takes those religiously inclined away from their faith. Although we suspect that in this case some old fashioned homophobia also came into the equation.

Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul Is Celebrating Her 113th Birthday With A Week Full Of Digital Events

Culture

Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul Is Celebrating Her 113th Birthday With A Week Full Of Digital Events

Museo Frida Kahlo / Getty Images

Happy Birthday Frida! Were the iconic Mexican artist alive today, she would be celebrating her 113th birthday. Few artists have captured the imagination of the world as Frida Kahlo did – both in life and in death.

The iconic Mexican artist lived a unique life full of success and heartache, which has truly helped create a strong fan base around the world. These days, Frida is still hailed as a feminist, LGBTQ+, and Chicano icon, the beloved artist continues to live on in the hearts of those who love her.

Frida Kahlo’s 113th birthday is full of free events that will help you remember her iconic legacy.

People in Mexico and around the world have shown an enormous interest in learning about the life and work of Frida Kahlo – the iconic Mexican artist. People are eager to learn more about the house where she lived, and which today is the Casa Azul; hear about her diary and how she painted despite her health problems, and learn more about her marriage to the muralist Diego Rivera and their unique relationship.

Well, if Frida Kahlo is also one of your favorite artists – you’re in luck! Her former home, the Casa Azul, has prepared a calendar of events and special activities that you’ll be able to attend from the comfort and safety of your own home.

The events will run from July 6-16 and thousands have already logged on to enjoy workshops, readings, and concerts – all free and online. Through the museum’s Facebook and YouTube profiles, this party can be closely followed along with acts by the Mexican tenor Benito Rodríguez, the soprano Olivia Gorra, the flute player Horacio Franco, the Pasatono orchestra and the Opera Studio Beckmann.

Frida’s Casa Azul will be hosting the events, where she called home for much of her life.

Credit: thatgaygringo / Instagram

Frida Kahlo was born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo Calderón on July 6, 1907 and died on July 13, 1954. She spent much of her life at Casa Azul, in Mexico City’s Coyoacán neighborhood, so it’s no surprise that the museum has decided to celebrate the big day. In fact, it’s between those walls she was born and died.

Obviously, with the continued threat of Covid-19, the museum has decided to host all events online. In an interview with Milenio, museum director Hilda Trujillo said “Culture and art are an indispensable part of the life of society, as has been demonstrated during the Coronavirus pandemic. For this reason, we designed the program ‘Go for Frida!’ in which the Frida Kahlo Museum goes online to request the support of society, so that they can support us with donations to continue creating content for the whole world and continue to highlight Mexico’s art and culture.”

The series of events started on July 6 but will run through July 16 – here’s all the details you need to know about.

Credit: Casa Azul

The program kicked off on July 6 (Frida’s actual birthday) with a concert streamed on the museum’s YouTube channel. But over the ten-day period, the museum will also host various workshops, a reading of Frida Kahlo’s personal diaries, and a drawing contest.

Along with these activities, Casa Azul launched an online donation campaign. This is to help the cultural institution, which closed its doors on March 21 because of the Coronavirus and isn’t expected to reopen until September.

And don’t forget: the Frida Kahlo Museum also has a virtual tour. You can even view the museum’s collection through Google Arts & Culture. So you have no excuses to not celebrate Frida Kahlo birthday and rediscover her legacy.

This Is What Mexico Looks Like As It Reopens During A Global Pandemic

Things That Matter

This Is What Mexico Looks Like As It Reopens During A Global Pandemic

Hector Vivas / Getty Images

Step outside into Mexico’s capital (home to more than 20 million people) and you’d be forgiven for not realizing we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic that’s killed more than half a million people.

As of this week, several Mexican states have entered the initial phase of reopening and Mexicans are taking full advantage of the newly found sense of ‘freedom’ – visiting restaurants, cafés and shops in droves. However, experts warn that Mexico will likely follow the dangerous path of the United States – which opened prematurely and is now having to shut down businesses once again as cases reach record levels.

Here’s an inside look into the daily reality of Chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) and what the future holds for the country amid Coronavirus.

Mexico City – along with 17 other states – have entered the first phase of a gradual reopening.

Despite being home to the largest number of active cases across Mexico, the capital joined 17 other states in a phased reopening this week. Mexico City lowered its contagion risk from a level red (the most extreme) to level orange, which permits some businesses to reopen.

However, Mexico City – on the day of the reopening – saw a record 5,432 new cases and 638 confirmed deaths. Mayor Sheinbaum said that the switch to orange was possible because hospital occupancy levels are at 59% and trending downwards. But to many, the government is prioritizing the economy over public safety and health. Several government officials insisted that it was safe to proceed to the reduced warning level but health experts disagreed.

The mayor stressed that if hospital occupancy levels go above 65% again, red light restrictions will be reinstated. She urged residents to continue to take precautions to reduce the risk of infection. People should continue to stay at home as much as possible and the use of face masks in public places remains mandatory.

Along with Mexico City, 17 other states moved into the orange phase of reopening – including tourist hotspots of Jalisco, Veracruz, Quintana Roo, and Yucatan.

The federal government instituted a traffic light system to simplify the risk management of Covid-19

Credit: omgitsjustintime/ Instagram

Shortly after the Coronavirus outbreak began, the federal government instituted a color-coded risk management system to simplify its messaging. With red being the highest risk level and green being the lowest, every state until June 15th was still in the red level.

As of July 1, 18 states are now in the orange level. This means that restaurants, cafés, and shops can begin to reopen with reduced capacity. Hotels and markets will also be allowed to resume service, meaning that tourism will likely begin to pick up again very soon.

President AMLO has been eager to get the economy reopened after it was reported that at least one million formal jobs have been lost and the country’s economy is expected to shrink by 8.8% this year.

On the first day of reopening, shops in Mexico City’s historic center were jammed full of shoppers.

Credit: Raul Hidalgo / Getty Images

The city’s historical center is a hub of economic activity. You can literally find pretty much anything you could ever want in these cobblestones streets. The district is home to more than 27,000 businesses and as of this week they’re now permitted to open once again. And resident wasted no time in hitting the shops.

Long lines formed outside shops with few people wearing masks and most stores not truly enforcing social distancing requirements. Some offered antibacterial gel and took people’s temperatures before allowing them to enter.

Officially, shops and businesses with an odd street number are permitted to open three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, whereas even-numbered shops can open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

In order to prevent crowds from accumulating and promote social distancing, 31 streets were converted into pedestrian-only zones.

Restaurants, cafés, and shopping centers are all open for business – with some protective measurements in place.

Credit: omgitsjustintime/ Instagram

Even before the official change to semáforo naranja, several restaurants and cafés were already offering dine-in service. But now restaurants are officially allowed to operate at limited capacity, while staff are required to wear masks and shields, and restaurants are’s allowed to play music or issue reusable menus.

Street markets, known as tianguis, will also be allowed to restart which will help many of the city’s informal workers. And the following week, department stores and shopping malls will also be allowed to reopen at 30% capacity and with limited hours.

Mexico is hardly finished with the Coronavirus threat – in fact, cases have been reaching record levels.

Credit: Covid.gob.mx

Although not yet at the levels seen in the U.S. or Brazil, Mexico has been struggling with its response to the Coronavirus pandemic. As of July 1, the country has had more than 225,000 confirmed cases and almost 28,000 deaths, with Mexico City being the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak.

And the worst doesn’t appear to be over. In a Covid-19 situation report published Monday, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security noted that Mexico had reported a decreasing daily incidence for three consecutive days.

“However, Mexico does not yet appear to have reached its peak,” the report said. “Based on recent trends, we expect Mexico to report increasing daily incidence over the coming days. Mexico is currently No. 6 globally in terms of daily incidence,” it added.