Things That Matter

A Colombian Politician Was Busted At The Airport Trying To Smuggle 7 Kilos In His Prosthetic Leg

Colombian politician, Víctor Hugo Agudelo didn’t make it on his Frankfurt, Germany-bound flight October 7, after he was caught with $175,000 worth of cocaine stuffed in his prosthetic leg. Agudelo was stopped by Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport narcotics officers after they noticed he was having trouble walking. They offered their assistance and asked if something was wrong with his leg. From there, an argument broke out, which resulted in a working canine alerting the officers to the presence of drugs.

Agudelo was arrested, and released just hours later on a technicality that nobody quite understands. Many are outraged at the thought that his political privilege exempts him from legal consequences. Since then, Agudelo has continued his campaign, but party leaders aren’t having it.

One police officer recalled that the way Agudelo was dragging his leg roused suspicion.

Credit: @JACOBOSOLANOC / Twitter

The officers approached Agudelo to ask if he was okay to walk. When he got defensive, narcotics officers approached and launched a routine protocol. Later, it was discovered that, in addition to the 7 kilos of prosthetic weight, Agudelo was trying to walk with additional 7 kilos of cocaine stuffed inside the prosthetic. That means his leg weighed around 30 pounds, twice as heavy as usual, and likely pretty uncomfortable to walk around with. 

After the argument finally dispelled, officers assisted him to a body scanner.

Screenshot. Digital Video. City TV. 22 October 2019.

City TV video shows Agudelo being wheeled over to the body scanner. He steps up to the machine and places his hands behind his head. The body scan results were abnormal and prompted the next phase of testing. Officers then passed the prosthetic leg alone through an x-ray machine and were shocked to find the contraband. 

Officers tested his prosthetic for traces of cocaine, which came back positive.

Screenshot. Digital Video. City TV. 22 October 2019.

Agudelo was released just a few hours after his arrest, prompting outrage from other citizens. Public commentary is full of complaints that Agudelo is being treated with the privilege of being a politician. “Of course it is political, anyone would be given 50 years in jail” one Gustavo Cerati said in a comment on Actualidad.

Compounding the outrage is that his crime has been captured on video, but without the consequences that so many other offenders face.

Since his arrest, Agudelo has remained unapologetic.

Credit: Victor Agudelo / Facebook

Nearly two weeks after his arrest, he posted a meme depicting Jesus Christ with the phrase, “The only one who can judge me forgives me.” In the weeks since his arrest, his campaign has posted videos of supporters daily, each meant to represent women, the disabled, the working class, and so on. 

Two days after his arrest and release, he attended a campaign event with William Palomino and Clara Luz Roldán, mayoral and gubernatorial candidates. He’s attended at least one other campaign event since then and continues to aspire to earn a seat as a Council member. “I’m still here with my people, I’m still working, I’m part of the Radical Change group and I’m moving on confidently,” he shared on his social media account. 

The Radical Change group disagrees.

Credit: Victor Agudelo / Facebook

While party leaders can’t force an indictment or further charges brought against Agudelo, they are seeking to remove his party membership and are publicly denouncing his candidacy. In particular, Senator José Luis Pérez has been outspoken about the illegitimacy of Agudelo candidacy at this point. “I reject any action that is outside the law and more in the case of a crime as unfortunate as drug trafficking is,” Senator Pérez told Blu Radio. Pérez also told Actualidad that the police report confirmed that a canine trained in drug-sensitivity was able to find the drug in Agudelo’s prosthesis.

Agudelo was set to be a shoo-in for a council seat in La Unión, in the department of El Valle del Cauca. Today, the jury’s out.

Credit: @JavierBarreraA / Twitter

Cocaine trafficking is commonplace in Colombia, the cocaine production capital of the world. Overnight, narcotics officers arrested and detained two other cocaine traffickers who thought they could hide the narcotics inside their luggage. 

While Agudelo hasn’t faced any legal consequences for his alleged crime, the political consequences are swelling. His party has rejected him, and political cartoonists are glorifying the bizarre incident. Agudelo continues to protest his innocence with claims that only God can judge him.

READ: Colombian Navy Rescues Drug Traffickers Stranded In The Ocean, Floating On Top Of Packets Of Cocaine

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What I Wish My Family Knew About How Their Vote For Trump Impacts My Life

Culture

What I Wish My Family Knew About How Their Vote For Trump Impacts My Life

fidmart85 / cantstayput / Instagram

Politics is a tricky topic for families and friends, especially when you are on opposite sides of the aisle. It’s hard not to take things personally when it comes to how those closest to you vote. Those feelings have been heightened since 2016 when President Donald Trump won on a campaign based on fear and hate. His rhetoric has never changed and his words and policies are having a real impact on the lives of millions, including me and my husband.

My family is a Cuban family living in Florida. They fit the description in more ways than one. They are a close-knit unit always visiting each other and having mini family reunions for every occasion. Covid changed that for a while but over time they have safely created a bubble with themselves. I am one of three in my immediately-extended family to leave Florida so they don’t see my life on a daily basis. I can only imagine that living in Florida would change that.

With the 2020 elections in just days, I have had some hard conversations with my family about things they’ve never understood or asked about. As a gay Latino man living in the U.S., my life hasn’t always been easy and safe. I grew up in a rural town in the Florida panhandle where it was not okay to be visibly and audibly Latino nor gay.

I was 16 when I had my first run-in with violent homophobia. I was at a keg party and I was pouring a beverage. A college student came up to me and asked if I was gay. Knowing the importance of self-preservation, I immediately said no. Without missing a beat, the man sucker-punched me in the face, called me a faggot, and ran to a waiting car that sped off.

My parents never heard that story. I lied to them when they noticed the welt on my face and told them I got elbowed at cheerleading practice. I know. I was a cheerleader and my parents couldn’t see I was gay. It was safer for me to lie and not let my parents know I was targeted for being gay, something they were in no place to accept are Cuban immigrants living in a rural, conservative southern town.

That moment instilled in me a fear that I live with to this day. No matter where I am or what I am doing, I always function at the level that I can be attacked at any time for being gay. President Trump’s rhetoric and administration has made that worse.

During President Barack Obama’s administration, I felt safe for the first time in a long time. I know that comes with some privilege, but it was the first time in in my gay life that I felt safe to be who I was. I came out to my parents. I became involved in politics to get people elected. I traveled as an openly gay man. I was no longer living in the shadows.

The 2016 elections shattered the feeling of safety and peace for me and my friends. Suddenly, all of us were on the chopping block as our rights and dignity were under attack again. The Pulse Nightclub shooting in June 2016 reminded me of how much hate there still was for people like me and the Trump campaign was fanning those flames. I was scared. My family didn’t understand why.

Most of my family voted for President Trump that year. It was a knife through the heart to know that most of my family was not concerned about my own safety and dignity. For them, President Trump’s election was more important than the very real threat he posed to millions of people.

I remember confiding in my family my fear that President Trump would try to eliminate marriage equality, won just one year before. I was made to feel like I was being dramatic. My husband and I got married the Friday after Thanksgiving because we just did not trust what the administration would do.

Four years later, Supreme Court justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito signaled that they want to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that made my marriage legal. How? With the help of Amy Coney Barrett, who was rushed in with just days left till election day. Marriage equality became law of the land in a 5-4 ruling.

This blow to the LGBTQ+ community comes after the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that LGBTQ+ people cannot be fired for being LGBTQ+. The ruling in June stated that LGBTQ+ were included in the Civil Rights Act under protection from discrimination based on sex.

The lawsuit brought to the Supreme Court to make discrimination against me legal was drafted by the Trump administration. The man my family voted for wanted to make me less than everyone else.

One of the first cases before the majority conservative court that could erode LGBTQ+ rights is Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. The case, which will be heard the day after the election, will decide if private agencies that receive government dollars can refuse people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and even religion. How is this happening in the U.S. in 2020?

I am also a recently diagnosed diabetic. The Trump administration has been a hostile enemy of the Affordable Care Act since day one. The ACA, also known as Obamacare, has become increasingly popular with Americans, especially now during the pandemic.

Another case being heard on behalf of the Trump administration is a case to dismantle the ACA once and for all. This would throw millions of people off of their healthcare and would leave millions more with pre-existing conditions without healthcare.

A vote for Trump is a vote to strip people of necessary and life-saving healthcare. We have all read the horror stories of people dying of diabetes because they couldn’t afford their insulin. The Trump administration wants us to go back to those days. The court case could force numerous people to die from treatable and manageable diseases for the sake of profit over lives.

Republicans have no plan to replace the ACA. However, they have continued to lie to the American people and claim that they do.

There are several communities under attack right now. Black lives are at stake. Abortion rights are at stake. Healthcare is at stake. Immigrant rights are at stake. Trans lives are at stake. LGBTQ+ rights are at stake. Our standing in the world is at stake. The soul of our nation is at stake.

Under this current administration, I have seen my friends live in fear that they will lose rights. I have watched friends grapple with the understanding that they have lost rights.

My family claims to care for me, and I am sure that on some level they really believe that. However, as a gay Latino man living in the Trump administration, I have grown resentful. I resent that their votes are costing me and my friends their human dignity. I resent that their vote exacerbated the ongoing pandemic that has cost more lives than it should have. I resent that they ask why I don’t visit despite voting to limit my rights and freedom.

To my family members who have voted against this administration, thank you. Thank you for standing by my side. Thank you for understanding what is at stake for me and my marriage. Thank you for rebuking an administration that has caused unnecessary harm to millions of innocent people.

It is not too late to have your voice heard. Go vote. Millions of us are relying on you using your voice to determine the future of this nation.

READ: Remembering The Victims Of The Orlando Shooting, Many Of Whom Were Latino

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Marco Rubio Writes Letter Asking For TPS For Venezuelans After Republicans Voted Against It

Things That Matter

Marco Rubio Writes Letter Asking For TPS For Venezuelans After Republicans Voted Against It

Stefanie Reynolds / Getty Images

The Trump administration is letting Temporary Protected Status expire for hundreds of thousands of people. A lot of these people have been here for years and have started families and businesses. Republicans voted against TPS for Venezuelans so Sen. Marco Rubio is now asking Trump to do something about it.

Sen. Marco Rubio wrote a letter to President Trump asking for TPS for Venezuelans.

It is a break from the usual tactic of ignoring TPS needs in Florida by Haitians, Hondurans, and Salvadorans. These people are at risk of losing their TPS after the Trump administration decided to let those protections expire. Venezuelans started fleeing the South American country when the economy started to collapse. Many of them have settled in South Florida.

People immediately started to call Sen. Rubio out for his glaring inaction for years.

Venezuelan nationals have been coming to the U.S. for years to escape the terrifying situation in Venezuela. An economic downfall led to millions of Venezuelans going without food, school, medicine, and other necessities. The crisis was an international fascination as Venezuelans took to the streets and were killed for protesting against their government.

Senate Republicans refused to vote on a bill last year to provide TPS to Venezuelans.

In August 2019, Senate Republicans had the chance to vote on a bill that would have protected Venezuelans living in the U.S. A bill in the Democrat-led House passed but the Senate bill stalled because of Senate Republicans. The failure by the Senate to pass the bill has left Venezuelans vulnerable to deportation back to the country they fled.

“Not this week, I don’t anticipate movement on it,” Rubio told the Miami Herald back then. “I anticipate hopefully getting the administration to do something. That’s what we’ve been working on behind the scenes here, we’ve made a little progress on it. We have 17 votes already scheduled this week, a bunch of nominees, the spending bill, the veto override. The votes this week have already been scheduled.”

During this time, the Trump administration has quietly been deporting Venezuelans back.

Venezuelans nationals have been deported back to President Nicolás Maduro’s brutal regime. With no economic prospects, the deportations are sending people to their deaths as one in three Venezuelans aren’t getting enough food. This is just one of the many issues compounded on the Venezuelan people after years of economic and political turmoil.

Venezuelans are also pointing out how Sen. Rubio waited until after Amy Coney Barrett to fight for TPS.

Senate Republicans recently confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The confirmation was rushed to secure a conservative majority on the court and went against the wish of the American people. A majority of Americans preferred that the Senate wait until after the election.

There are four days left until the elections and every vote matters. Make sure you get out there and make your voice heard.

READ: The RNC Wants You To Think Biden-Harris Policies Are Socialist, These Cuban And Venezuelan-Americans Think Otherwise

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