Things That Matter

As Massive Protests Sweep Latin America, Here’s Why Mexico Has Been Able To Avoid Them So Far

2019 will be remembered as the year in which Latin America was swept by a wave of protests, mostly led by young people who are fed up with the status quo and right-wing governments.

Chile has been taken over by a massive wave of protests that has encompassed not only the capital of Santiago, but also places such as Valparaiso. These protests are not only attended by young activists, but also by unions, lay people and basically anyone who wants to speak out against neoliberal economic policies and conservative politics that have turned the police force known as carabineros into a repressive entity.

In Colombia, social unrest reached unprecedented levels in the capital of Bogota and even became deadly when a young activist was killed, which led to further protests against police brutality. Ecuador has also experienced mass protests and the most vulnerable, particularly indigenous groups, have unjustly suffered the consequences. 

Just like when Middle Eastern countries protested in what was collectively known as the Arab Spring in the early 2010s, Latin America seems to be at a turning point in which change seems inevitable and the polarization in society when it comes to cultural, political and social issues is at its highest.  

But Mexico has escaped this wave of protests even if it has been historically a highly politicized society… perhaps the ghost of 1968 is still lingering.

On October 2 1968, a few weeks before Mexico City was due to hold the Olympic Games, a crowd of students was massacred by the army in the infamous Masacre de Tlatelolco. This event, in which police and military forces acted with brutality and impunity, has defined political life in Mexico for decades. Even though protests are numerous, they are smaller in size and generally a one-off occurrence rather than a long and sustained effort. This might be due, in part, to the internalized fear of State repression. 

Contemporary Mexico suffers from a gross divide between rich and poor, and also corruption that is endemic to politicians and public servants. So are people not fed up? 

As the Mexicanist points out, poverty rates in Mexico surpass 40% and are only second to Honduras in the region. At the same time, the rich in Mexico are super rich, perhaps only comparable to the elites in countries such as Singapore, the United States and Britain. Corruption runs rampant in every level of government and the private sector basically does anything it wants if its pockets are deep enough. The government led my AMLO has made the fight against corruption its main policy, which in a way is a preemptive attack against dissent.  

So why has Mexico escaped mass protests? A weak opposition and a new semi-leftist government.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador addresses supporters after receiving the staff of command from indigenous people during the AMLO Fest at Zocalo square in Mexico City, Mexico December 1, 2018. Picture taken December 1, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

There are several reasons why the wave of protests that has caught fire throughout the region. The first and perhaps foremost reason is that the AMLO led government is barely a year old and so far it has been rather centrist in its political approach. The decades-long fear that an AMLO-led government would lead Mexico into a situation akin to Chavez’s and Maduro’s Venezuela.

Added to that, the opposition, mainly embodied by the conservative PAN, is in total disarray. The presidential campaign of Ricardo Anaya divided PAN-members and caused the balkanization of the party, whereby different factions emerged. Added to that, this party and the legacy of its last president, Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, has been scrutinized for the past few months and critiques reached a boiling point when Genaro Garcia Luna, who led Calderon’s war against the drug cartels, was arrested in the United States for allegedly receiving bribes from the Sinaloa cartel.

So centrist AMLO government + weakened opposition: a lid on social unrest. A very, very provisional lid, however. 

AMLO’s discourse resembled the demands of protesters in South America… and he has a 60% approval rate.

If we were to place the Mexican president in the political spectrum compared to his counterparts in Colombia and Chile, he would be to the left… the extreme left. The anti neoliberal flag that protesters wave in South America is one that AMLO has been waving for decades. Now, this is on a discursive level so far: it might be to early to tell, but early indications from the AMLO presidency lead many to believe that he is not as leftist as he seems. But the discourse is working when it comes to appeasing social unrest similar to that experienced in South America, as Mexicanist explains: “The Mexican president’s criticisms of the neoliberal model, its harmful effects on popular welfare and his “perverse vocation for corruption” are in tune with the narrative of the movements of indignant Latin Americans. Also, the harangues against public-private corruption and the system of privileges that has been forged in Latin American-style capitalism.”

Added to this, Lopez Obrador enjoys a comfortable 60% approval rate even though he lost 10-15% in the past year due to pressing matters such as the violence that the country has experienced in 2019, the most savage year on record, among other challenges and mistakes that have defined the new administration. 

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A University Is Releasing A Historic Mexican Cookbook Filled With Recipes You’d Want To Try

Culture

A University Is Releasing A Historic Mexican Cookbook Filled With Recipes You’d Want To Try

UTSA

The University of Texas San Antonio is bringing the history of Mexico into our kitchens. The university is releasing cookbooks that are collections of historic Mexican recipes. Right now, the desserts book is out and online for free. Main dishes and appetizers/drinks are coming soon.

You can now taste historic Mexico thanks to the University of Texas San Antonio.

UTSA has had an ongoing project of preserving, collecting, and digitizing cookbooks from throughout Mexico’s history. Some books date back to the 1700s and offer a look into Mexico’s culinary arts and its evolution.

UTSA has been digitizing Mexican cookbooks for years and the work is now being collected for people in the time of Covid.

Millions of us are still at home and projects like these can be very exciting and exactly what you need. The recipes are a way to distract yourself from the current reality.

“The e-pubs allow home cooks to use the recipes as inspiration in their own kitchens,” Dean Hendrix, the dean of UTSA Libraries, said in UTSA Today. “Our hope is that many more people will not only have access to these wonderful recipes but also interact with them and experience the rich culture and history contained in the collection.”

The free downloads are a way for people to get a very in-depth look into Mexican food history.

The first of three volumes of the cookbooks focuses on desserts so you can learn how to make churros, chestnut flan, buñelos, and rice pudding. What better way to spend your quarantine than learning how to make some of these yummy desserts. We all love sweets, right?

If you want to get better with making your favorite desserts, check out this cookbook and make it happen.

There is nothing better than diving into your history and using food as your guide. Food is so intrinsically engrained in our DNAs and identities. We love the foods and sweets from our childhood because they hold a clue as to who we are and where we come from. This historical collection of recipes throughout history is the perfect way to make that happen.

READ: The Laziest Food Hacks In All Of The Land Would Send Your Abuela To The Chancla

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Instead Of Celebrating Her Quince, This Teen Donated It All To Help Victims Of Covid-19

Things That Matter

Instead Of Celebrating Her Quince, This Teen Donated It All To Help Victims Of Covid-19

JiromyXool / Facebook

Few days are as important or as celebrated as a teenager’s 15th birthday. So imagine the level of selflessness one must have to be able to say ‘no, I don’t want any of the celebration, I rather help out my community.’

Well, one teen in Merida, Mexico did just that this week when she told her family ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to her big quince and instead used the money that had been raised for her special day to help out her neighbors who have been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Her party was canceled thanks to Coronavirus, so she decided to help out those less fortunate.

In many countries across Latin America, the quinceañera is a huge milestone for teenagers. Beautiful dresses, visits from the entire family, big parties, and the best gifts are the norm at most quinces. But for 15-year-old Jiromy Xool Pech, instead of spending money on a lavish birthday celebration, she opted to use her party funds to help feed the needy.

Jiromy and her family had long planned her quinceañera – she had been looking forward to it for years. But with the pandemic hitting her community in Mérida particularly hard, the teen decided to put the party aside and use everything that had been invested in the ceremony to help her neighbors who have been impacted by the pandemic.

“Instead of partying, I prefer to give food to people, to help them with that,” Jiromy told El Universal. Jiromy not only asked to donate the money for her quince to the community, but she was also out there helping distribute the food to her neighbors.

Jiromy and her family weren’t alone in helping out the community either. Much of the food that was given out was prepared from by neighbors and local businesses that came to join Jiromy’s cause once word began to spread.

Unfortunately, many quinceañeras have been canceled or postponed thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: Diego Sanchez / Getty Images

One of Mexico City’s most famous markets for buying quince dresses – el Mercado Lagunilla – has been closed for three months. This ins’t just hating a major impact on dressmakers and salespeople, but it also means that young teens aren’t able to buy the dresses to celebrate their big day.

But not all is completely lost: there are those who have begun to return, like Ximena González, who came with her family to try on dresses. Her quince was scheduled for May 16, but the pandemic changed everything, and now they expect it to take place in November.

“I was scared and upset but I had to accept it. Some friends can no longer go because they are moving,” she told El Universal. She added, “I hope that when it is my party the infections have gone down and that everything is done as if nothing had happened.”

Mexico has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, including Jiromy’s hometown of Merida.

Jiromy’s selfless act to help her community comes as Mexico continues to see record breaking numbers of cases. Tens of thousands are dying and even more are losing their jobs and being forced back into poverty.

As of August 6, Mexico has more than 456,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 49,698 people have died from the virus. In Jiromy’s state of Yucatan, there have been more than 10,000 cases of the virus and it’s had a huge impact on tourism, which is a major economic force in the state. Therefore, it makes sense that the 15-year-old thought it was important to use the money raised for her party to help those who are suffering financially.

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