Things That Matter

A Trans Woman Recently Told Her Story About Her Surprising Romantic Relationship With A Colombian Drug Lord

We all know that narcos live a dangerous life of violent crime–it’s rare to hear a love story with a narco at its center. When you hear the words “Drug Lord”, the phrase that comes to mind is probably not “Knight in Shining Armor”. But for one Colombian trans woman stuck on the streets, her narco boyfriend ended up being just that.

Although Colombia has one of the highest murder rates in the world, (much of it attributed to drug trafficking) this trans woman found solace in the underworld that she couldn’t find from her family.

For one trans woman, her life was transformed from a life of violence on the street to a life of luxury and “glamour” because of her relationship with a Colombian drug lord.

A recent Vice article tells the story of Gabriela, a trans teenager who found herself on the streets to escape the horror of her home life. Gabriela’s story is riddled with tales of violence, homelessness, and constant danger. These stories, unfortunately, are universally common for trans women–but especially common in developing countries.

Gabriela chose to become homeless rather than live with her abusive, transphobic father. After becoming homeless, a fellow trans friend introduced her to a pimp whom she said could “help [her] earn some money.” Refusing to sell sex to earn an income, Gabriela instead acted as a sort of bodyguard for the other sex workers. According to her, she was given a knife and pepper spray by the pimp and told to “make sure that nobody came down the streets they operated on”. She was also told to rob drunk people by knife-point. Soon enough, Gabriela escalated her robberies to muggings and store-holdups at gunpoint.

But one day, everything changed for Gabriela. After months spent on the streets, a mysterious man named Carlos came down the street her and other sex workers were operating on. Although he was searching for trans sex workers to pay for, him and Gabriela ended up hitting it off. He took Gabriela for something to eat and opened up to her, admitting that he was “lonely”.

On their initial date, Carlos revealed that he was a “major player” in the Colombian drug world. In other words, he was a narco.

Carlos’s revelation did not deter Gabriela. Soon after, she and Carlos developed an intimate connection. However, elements of the relationship were still undeniably transactional. For instance, Carlos paid for Gabriela’s apartment and her lifestyle in general. But regardless of the power imbalance of their relationship, Gabriela insists that Carlos was a true romantic. taking her expensive dates across the country. He would take her on  “motorbike rides” in the countryside, to her favorite deep house raves, they would relax in his jacuzzi together.

What’s more, Gabriela’s relationship with Carlos was widely accepted within the Colombian narco underworld.

According to Gabriela, Carlos “never tried to hide” their relationship. “He introduced me to all of his associates, who were all okay with me once they got to know me,” she said in her interview. “The fact that I was transgender soon became an incidental detail.” In fact, Gabriela believes that her relationship with Carlos may have helped change the mindset of the more conservative members of the Colombian cartel community. “I would like to think that the fact I dated Carlos broke down a few barriers and lessened the stigma associated with going out with trans women,” she says.

Gabriela insists that she almost never saw the “darker side” of Carlos. Only once did Gabriela suspect Carlos’s violent tendencies–when an intoxicated woman disappeared after acting belligerent at a party. But despite the love between them, things did not last between Gabriela and Carlos. Wanting to improve her English as well as experience a “change of scenery”, Gabriela decided to move to the U.S. to stay with her mother.

Once she broke up with Carlos, he “went crazy” and started “shooting up his house”, according to Gabriela.

But despite his erratic behavior, Gabriela insists that she wasn’t afraid of him hurting her. “People have different ways of handling breakups,” she said. “And that was just his way of dealing with it”. Once Gabriela moved to the U.S., she tried her hand at drug-dealing too, selling benzos and amphetamines to make ends meet. Despite her moderate success at selling drugs, she ended up returning to Colombia. Once she returned, she discovered that Carlos was having her followed.

Now at 25, Gabriela says she is “glad she got to have” the experience of dating a Colombian drug lord. “He always treated me well and he helped me out when I was in a desperate situation,” she said to Vice. She looks back at her time in the drug underworld as a “fun stage of her life”. Despite the fact that Gabriela looks back fondly on her days in the narco underworld, there are countless others whose lives have been negatively impacted by Latin American cartels. It’s fortunate the Gabriela was never hurt, but her story is not one to be admired.

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UPS Delivery Man Is Fired After Video Surfaces of His Anti-Latino Racist Rant

Things That Matter

UPS Delivery Man Is Fired After Video Surfaces of His Anti-Latino Racist Rant

Photo courtesy Forward Latino

An unnamed UPS delivery driver has been fired after being caught using racist language when delivering a package to a Latino household. The incident occurred on December 17th.

The video, which was caught on a doorbell camera’s security footage, shows a white UPS driver appearing to be angry when delivering a package.

“Now you don’t get f—–g nothing…You can’t read and write and speak the f—–g English language,” he says while writing a “failed to deliver” notice and pasting it on the house’s front door.

The Aviles family says that the footage shows that the UPS worker never even attempted to deliver the package in the first place. He never rang the doorbell or knocked on the door. Based on that, the family has come to the conclusion that the driver intentionally withheld the package from the family out of prejudice and spite

They believe that the only way the driver could’ve known that the family was Latino was by making assumptions based off the name on the package.

“The only information this driver had that could serve as a trigger for this deep-seated hate was the name on the package,” said Forward Latino President Darryl Morin at a press conference addressing the incident.

“So what we have here is a very intentional act to ruin Christmas for somebody, for someone to spew this hateful rhetoric, and quite honestly to deceive their employer,” Morin continued.

Per UPS, the employee has now been fired. “There is no place in any community for racism, bigotry or hate. This is very serious and we promptly took action, terminating the driver’s employment. UPS is wholeheartedly committed to diversity, equity and inclusion,” UPS said in a statement. They also said they contacted the family to apologize.

But the Aviles family is still rattled that such bigoted people are out and about, letting their petty prejudices effect other people’s lives.

“The package was a Christmas gift that we eventually received after Christmas Day, but what if it happened to have time-sensitive content like an epipen or a book I needed to take a final,” said Shirley Aviles, the mother of the man who lives at the address, told NBC News. “I don’t get it. It’s just sad.”

Aviles seemed disturbed about what this incident says about human nature. “This is about the things people do when they think no one is watching them. That’s important because that’s when you see people’s true colors and that’s what’s scary,”

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Here Are Some Christmas Traditions From Around Latin America

Culture

Here Are Some Christmas Traditions From Around Latin America

Henry Sadura / Getty Images

Christmas is a special time of year. Families have their traditions to mark the festive year and some of those traditions are rooted in culture. Here are some of the ways various countries in Latin America celebrate Christmas.

El Pase Del Niño Viajero – Ecuador

El Pase del Niño Viajero is a pageant that happens in Ecuador that lasts weeks. The parade is meant to represent the journey of Mary and Joseph. The parade highlights the religious importance of Christmas in Ecuador and is most common in the Andean region of the country.

The biggest and most important parade is in Cuenca, a deeply religious city. Citizens near the city have all day to see the parade as it starts in the early morning and runs through the late afternoon. This gives people a lot of time to make it to the city to witness the parade.

La Gritería – Nicaragua

La Gritería comes after La Purisma. La Purisma is celebrated at the end of November and is meant to celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. La Gritería is celebrated in early December and involves literal yelling. Someone would shout “Que causa tanta alegria?” (“What causes so much happiness?”) People respond “La Concepción de María.” (“Mary’s Conception.”)

Las Posadas – Mexico

Mexican posadas are the most recognizable. Posadas take place in Mexico from Dec. 16-24, though this year they are most likely to be virtual. The posada begins with a procession in the neighborhood filled with people singing and sometimes led by two people dressed as Mary and Joseph.

Another part is the posada party. Before guests can enter, there is a song exchange with the people outside playing Joseph looking for shelter. The hosts sing the side of the innkeeper saying there is no room. Eventually, the guests are welcomed into the home to celebrate Christmas.

Aguinaldos – Colombia

Aguinaldos are a series of games played by people in Colombia leading up to Christmas. There are certain games that are common among people in Colombia. One is pajita en boca, which requires holding a straw in your mouth the entire time of a social event. Another is dar y no recibir, which is about getting people to take something you are giving to score a point.

El Quema Del Diablo – Guatemala

El quema del diablo is celebrated in early December and is a way of letting go of the previous year. People burn piñatas and effigies of the devil to let go of all negative feelings and moments from the previous year. If there was every to try a new tradition, this would be the year. Burn an effigy and banish 2020 to the past, where it belongs.

READ: These Seriously Sad Christmas Presents Were Worse Than Actual Coal

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