Things That Matter

University Student Arrested For Creating Meme Account Calling Out New Government

On the last day of 2019, Bolivian officials arrested a university student for creating a popular meme account that criticized the controversial change of government. Bolivia saw a change from long-beloved indigenous President Evo Morales to the self-declared Conservative Christian Interim President Jeanine Añez Chavez. The arrest of María Alejandra Salinas comes in the wake of rising concern of the stability of the democracy after military personnel violently ransacked President Morales’ home. Morales is currently living in exile in Mexico City, his new asylum home. Now, those who were concerned about the new right-wing government are troubled to learn of Salinas’s arrest in what they perceive as a violation of free speech. Salinas, herself, was worried before she was even arrested. She deactivated her account just days before her arrest for fear of her own personal safety after receiving numerous death and rape threats.

The new government actions are prompting civilian debate about whether it’s okay for the government to censor and arrest citizens for sharing differing political views.

María Alejandra Salinas ran the meme account Suchel, which reached over 10,000 followers until she shut it down.

CREDIT: GUSTAVO GARECA / FACEBOOK

A graduate student in feminist studies at La Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Salinas decided to join the mass protests after the forced resignation of former Bolivian President Morales. She protested in her own way by creating a digital meme account called Suchel that garnered 10,000 followers since Morales’ exile on Nov. 10. If you’re reading this, you probably already understand the art of the meme. Using humor to give cutting insight into political opinions, #Suchel became emblematic of an Internet subculture of Bolivia’s pro-Morales, pro-Indigenous movement.

The government’s move to arrest Salinas only seems to validate Suchel’s followers’ concerns: that the state is seeking to maintain its power by any means necessary, including violating free speech rights.

Others are celebrating the arrest of Salinas, calling her a “digital warrior” seeking to “destabilize the government of our President Jeanine Añez.”

CREDIT: SUCHEL 2.0 / FACEBOOK

A Facebook group called “¡El 21-F SE RESPETA!” that had reached an equal size to Suchel’s leftist group is celebrating her arrest. The right-ist group seems to also employ the same use of memes to spread their political ideology. Still, members are celebrating Salinas’s arrest, claiming that she “comes from a bourgeois family that enjoys the honey of capitalism and defends socialism.”

Meanwhile, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) reported that a bot campaign was employed by far-right government factions to influence public opinion in their favor. The CIDH found that 68,000 fake accounts posted over 1 million tweets during a week-long period before, during, and after the coup. Suchel became one of the few authentic informative accounts that indigenous and liberal Bolivians could rely on. 

“They say that I promote hate, indoctrinate people,” Salinas later wrote in a social media post. “This is just a page that doesn’t even reach 10 percent of the population in Bolivia. I have no power over people,” she added. 

According to Salinas, four men physically assaulted her and threatened to rape her if she didn’t give them her phone password.

CREDIT: @WYATTREED13 / TWITTER

Four men who knew that Salinas was the Suchel administrator ganged up on her and physically held her down in front of two police officers. When she refused to give them her cell phone code, they attempted to rape her. Later, when she confronted the police officers who “did nothing,” they told her “it was my fault because I had not listened to them,” according to a shocking social media post in Spanish (pictured above). Salinas was already the victim of sexual assault and death threats and deserved protection rather than persecution. On Dec. 28, Salinas announced that she would be shutting down the Suchel accounts for fear of her and her family’s safety. “Due to the lack of guarantees, I decided today to close Suchel on Facebook, at least until I am sure that my life and that of my family is not at risk,” Salinas posted to Suchel, according to Pagina SieteThree days later, she was arrested.

In a public statement in Spanish, CIDES demanded that “the corresponding authorities give the unrestricted respect for [Salinas’] rights during the legal process that is being carried out and taking into account the risks that due to the gender condition usually involve in these cases,” according to a local outlet.

Already, Suchel 2.0 accounts have popped up on several social media platforms.

CREDIT: @PAGINA_SIETE / TWITTER

The government’s attempt to control the online narrative of its administration’s rise to power and subsequent human rights violations appears to be unsustainable. While Salinas remains detained by authorities disdainful of her political views, Bolivians continue to raise their voices and seek community on and offline.

READ: An Angry Group Of Anti-Morales Protesters Attacked This Bolivian Mayor Ripping Off Her Clothes And Cutting Her Scalp

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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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Christina Aguilera Lip Synching ‘Lady Marmalade’ To A TikTok Meme Is A Summer Treat

Entertainment

Christina Aguilera Lip Synching ‘Lady Marmalade’ To A TikTok Meme Is A Summer Treat

Kevin Winter / Getty

In 2001, Christina Aguilera was a pop princess on the rise.

She further solidified herself in the world of music that year when she joined forces with the powerful voices of Mýa, Pink, and rappers Lil’ Kim and Missy Elliot for a recorded version of “Lady Marmalade.” The track, which had been created for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, became an instant smash and classic. At the time of its release, the song was a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks.

Let us not forget that the song also taught an entire generation the infamous French words “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?”

Now nearly twenty years after its release, Aguilera is reminding us of her musical chops and the beloved song.

In a video posted to her Instagram page, the Burlesque actress mimed along to a recent version of the song performed by TikTok sensation Lili Hayes. Hayes, who is 72, blew up on Instagram and TikTok a few years ago for her musical posts and attitude. She can often be seen on her pages singing or sporting hats and has gained fame for her sense of humor. She’s been featured in blog posts and major outlets like Vogue.

Her bio reads ‘Over everything. Always a little p****d.’ 

Christina’s parody of Hayes’s hilarious TikTok sent her 6.8 million followers into an internet craze.

Fans labeled the singer a ‘goddess’ for singing the song while dancing in her swimming pool with a glass of wine and an oversized black straw hat. In the video, Aguilera can be seen showing off her playful side while whipping her hair around.

“I feel like I’ve never sounded so goooooood! Yas honey @lili_hayes ! 😂🔥 #RealLadyMarmalade #LadyMarmaladeRemix #tiktok,” she wrote in a caption of the hilarious clip.

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