Things That Matter

Bogota, Colombia Just Made History By Electing Their First Woman And Openly Gay Mayor Claudia Lopez Hernandez

On Sunday, voters in Bogota, Colombia made history by electing not only their first female mayor in the history of the city but the first openly gay mayor as well. Claudia Lopez Hernandez won 35.2% of the vote (which equals around 1.1 million votes), beating out her competitor Carlos Fernando Galán who followed her with 32.5% of the vote. Lopez’s win is making international headlines because of the significance of the position–in Colombia, the mayor of Bogota is considered the second most powerful political position in the country–second only to the president.

Lopez celebrated her victory by kissing her partner Angélica Lozano–also a Green Alliance politician. Surrounded by her supporters, Lopez addressed the crowd: “This is the day of the woman. We knew that only by uniting could we win. We did that. We united, we won and we made history!”.

Lopez is no stranger to the political world–not only did she earn her Ph.D. in Political Science from Northwestern University in the U.S., but she has worked for years to fight corruption in Colombia’s government.

On the campaign trail, Lopez marketed herself as an “incorruptible” candidate, making her attractive to Bogotans who were tired of their city’s rampant corruption throughout the political sector. And it’s not only Lopez’s academic record that’s impressive. Lopez began her career as a student activist in the ’90s, lending her voice to a movement that spurred on Colombia’s adoption of a nationwide constitution. From there, she became a journalist, then a consultant to the United Nations, and finally, a researcher investigating corruption within Colombia’s congress. In 2014, she was elected to Colombia’s senate as a member of the Green Alliance Party. 

Lopez, who is a member of the Green Alliance Party, is considered to be “center-left” on Bogota’s political spectrum. During her candidacy, she supported advancing minority rights and proposed creating more educational opportunities for people over 45 and ramping up law enforcement in the capital, according to the BBC.

Lopez’s win is monumental not only for women and the LGBT community, but for those who a tired of seeing their city dominated by corrupt politicians.

In Colombia, political corruption has long been a scourge on the government. The country has an unfortunate history of those within power embezzling public funds, bribing officials, and attempting to rig elections. Voters have been vocal about their outrage over what they believe is a deeply broken political machine. In recent years, the civil unrest over corruption has reached new heights. In 2016, up to 16,000 Colombians took to Bogota’s streets to protest the widespread bribery of public officials. 

And while past political candidates have vowed to fight corruption through policy changes, the city has seen little outcome from these campaign-trail promises. Many are optimistic that Lopez’s unusual political pedigree will be the change Bogota needs to combat the city’s structural corruption. “For the first time in Colombian history a woman is mayor of the capital city Bogota,” said one Twitter user. “[She’s] the only politician I trust in this m***** country and yeah, she’s a lesbian”.

As for the people of Bogota, many are proud that their city elected someone who, years ago, would’ve been an unlikely winner. 

Many Colombians are taking to Twitter to express their joy over the election results. It’s not every day that history is made in such a monumental way. 

For many, Claudia Lopez Hernandez’s election is a sign of hope. 

 This is @ClaudiaLopez, the new mayor of #Bogota, kissing her partner @AngelicaLozanoC in celebration after today’s elections. This is a momentous symbol, a sign of change and of good things to come. That I have the privilege of calling them my friends only makes this sweeter.

Some people are saying that her election is renewing their faith in the democratic process:

It can be hard to remain positive about politics when we’re bombarded with bad news all day. Sometimes, all it takes is one positive event to keep us optimistic.  

Of course, some people believe that we should be celebrating Lopez’s stellar qualifications, not her gender or sexual orientation:

Although it’s true that Lopez won the election regardless of being a gay woman, for many, it’s exciting that she was able to accomplish such a feat without hiding who she is. 

And of course, many Colombians are feeling renewed patriotism for their country.

In the face of constant news about corruption, sexism, and homophobia, there’s nothing more refreshing than hearing a population came together, rejected prejudice, and voted their conscience. 

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People Have A Lot Of Opinions About The Argentina Episode Of Netflix’s ‘Street Food: Latin America’

Culture

People Have A Lot Of Opinions About The Argentina Episode Of Netflix’s ‘Street Food: Latin America’

Manuel Velasquez / Getty Images

Netflix has a new food show out and it has everyone buzzing. “Street Food: Latin America” is bringing everyone the sabor of Latin America to their living room. However, reviews are mixed because of Argentina and the lack of Central American representation.

Netflix has a new show and it is all about Latin American street food.

Some of the best food in the world comes from Latin America. That is just a fact and it isn’t because our families and community come for Latin America. Okay, maybe just a little. The food of Latin America comes with history and stories that have shaped our childhood. For many of us, it is the only thing we have that connects us to the lands our families have left.

The show is highlighting the contributions of women to street food.

“Street Food: Latin America” focuses mainly on the women that are leading the street food cultures in different countries in Latin America. For some of them, it was a chance to bring themselves out of poverty and care for their children. For others, it was a rebellion against the male-dominated culture of cooking in Latin America.

However, some people have some strong opinions about the show and they aren’t good.

There is a lot of attention to native communities in the Latino community culturally right now. The Argentina episode where someone claims that Argentina is more European is rubbing people the wrong way right now. While the native population of Argentina is small, it is still important to highlight and honor native communities who are indigenous to the lands.

The disregard for the indigenous community is upsetting because indigenous Argentinians are fighting for their lives and land.

An A Jazeera report focused on an indigenous community in northern Argentina who were fighting to protect their land. After decades of discrimination and humiliation, members of the Wichi community fought to protect their land from the Argentinian government grabbing it in 2017. Early this year, before Covid, children of the tribe started to die at alarming rates of malnutrition.

Another pain point in the Latino community is the complete disregard of Central America.

Central America includes Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Belize, and Panama. Central America’s exclusion is not sitting right with Netflix users with Central American heritage. Like, how can five whole countries be looked over during a Netflix show about street food in Latin America?

Seems like there is a chance for Netflix to revisit Latin America for more food content.

There are so many countries in Latin America that offer delicious foods to the world. There is more to Latin America than Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, and Bolivia.

READ: This Iconic Mexican Food Won The Twitter Battle To Be Named Latin America’s Best Street Food

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Cartels In Colombia Are Killing Residents Who Don’t Obey Their Covid-19 Lockdown Orders

Things That Matter

Cartels In Colombia Are Killing Residents Who Don’t Obey Their Covid-19 Lockdown Orders

LUIS ROBAYO / Getty Images

Colombia’s government was quick to institute wide-ranging measures meant to prevent the spread of Coronavirus within the country. They banned all international travel – even of its own citizens – and instituted nation-wide curfews that limit the times and amount of people that can go into markets, pharmacies and other essential services.

However, like many places, not all people have adhered to the restrictions and Colombia is seeing a surge in cases. In places where the government has failed to protect its citizens, local cartels are now stepping onto the scene and enforcing their own much more severe rules and lockdown orders. For those who don’t respect the new rules, they risk severe consequences – including death – at the hands of cartel members.

Colombian cartels are executing those who break their Coronavirus lockdown rules.

Across Colombia, heavily armed cartels have introduced their own Coronavirus lockdown measures and “justice” system for those who break quarantine orders. To date, a least nine people have been killed for either refusing to adhere to the hardline restrictions or for daring to speak out against them.

The worrying news was revealed by experts from the campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW). José Miguel Vivanco, HRW’s Americas director, said the shocking developments are down to the failure to keep control over swathes of Colombia after decades of in-fighting.

“In communities across Colombia, armed groups have violently enforced their own measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” he said. “This abusive social control reflects the government’s long-standing failure to establish a meaningful state presence in remote areas of the country, including to protect at-risk populations.”

Left-wing National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels and former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were among those said to be responsible.

“They have shut down transport between villages, and when someone is suspected to have Covid-19 they are told to leave the region or they will be killed,” one community leader in Colombia’s southern Putumayo province told the Guardian, on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “And people have no choice but to obey because they never see the government here.”

The cartels curfew orders are even more strict than those imposed by the actual local governments.

Credit: Juan Barreto / Getty Images

At the very start of the Coronavirus pandemic, Colombia’s government was quick to institute wide ranging lockdown measures. Since March, the entire country has been under lockdown, which includes curfew hours with allowances for people to leave their houses for necessities and in a medical emergency. But the cartels have reportedly implemented more stringent and sometimes lethal measures across 11 of the country’s 32 states.

HRW’s report tells how in the port city of Tumaco – where local residents are banned by gangs from fishing – cartels are limiting their ability to earn money and food. They have also imposed a 5pm curfew on citizens – far stricter than that imposed by the state. 

In the provinces of Cauca and Guaviare armed groups torched motorcycles belonging to those who they claimed ignored their lockdown measures.

Cartels distributed pamphlets about the restrictions, warning that they are ‘forced to kill people in order to preserve lives.

Credit: Luis Robayo / Getty Images

The cartels are informing residents of the lockdown orders and that armed fighters would kill anyone who disobeyed them. Cartel groups handed out pamphlets and communicated with communities through WhatsApp to establish curfews, lockdowns and restrictions on movement for people, cars, and boats, according to the report from HRW.

COVID-19 instructions also included limits on opening days and hours for shops as well as bans on access to communities for foreigners and people from other communities.

One pamphlet by the National Liberation Army (ELN) fighters in Bolívar, in northern Colombia, from early April said they were “forced to kill people in order to preserve lives” because the population had not “respected the orders to prevent Covid-19.”

The pamphlet said “only people working in food stores, bakeries, and pharmacies can work,” and only until certain hours of the day, saying others should stay “inside their houses.”

The brutal attacks come as Covid-19 cases have been surging across Colombia and elsewhere in South America.

Like much of South America, Colombia is bracing for the worst of the Coronavirus pandemic. Since the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed on March 6, medical authorities have confirmed 159,898 cases, with 5,625 deaths. Cases regularly climb by over 5,000 a day.

Meanwhile, nearby countries in the region – including Ecuador and Brazil – are the region’s epicenter for the pandemic. It’s only a question of time until the worst of the outbreak arrives in Colombia.

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