Things That Matter

From Gang Member To Politician, Here’s A Brief Look At Mexican Congressman El Mijis Who Is Now Fighting For Vulnerable Communities

July 2, 2018, was a watershed moment in Mexican political history. Of course, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was elected as president after two failed attempts, and his new party MORENA became the main political force in the country. They won state governorships, the presidency and federal and state spots in senates and congresses. Perhaps one of the most controversial stories to come out of the election was that of “El Mijis”, a reformed former gang member who won a set in his state congress running on a progressive platform. Conservative commentators and politicians soon started to attack him, while others just fell in love with the second-chances narrative of “El Mijis” and his political ascent. He is very active on Twitter and you can follow his handle @mijisoficial, where he talks about Mexican political life and continues his activism. He also engages in a frank and friendly manner with his adversaries. Only time will tell if he will live up to the expectations and how far his ideals will take him. 

This is what you need to know about one of the most interesting and polarizing figures in Mexican politics. 

His full name is Pedro César Carrizales Becerra.

Credit: hoysololeslie / Instagram

He was born in San Luis Potosi, a state in Northern Mexico, in 1979.

He grew up in a broken home.

Credit: hoysololeslie / Instagram

His family experienced domestic violence and, like many young urban men, Pedro Carrizales sought refuge in a street family. This led to gang altercations and problemas con la ley.He was once addicted to drugs and alcohol like many disenfranchised youth.

He was in jail for two months.

Credit: elsiglodedurango / Instagram

He acknowledges that he made some very bad decisions early in life. This led to a two-month stint in prison, which has been a controversial fact since he became a public figure. Being an ex-convict has been his Achilles heel on social media, where conservatives have used him as evidence of a corrupt political system. Don’t they believe in second chances, a key element of a healthy democracy?

He survived an attempt on his life after being elected.

Credit: revistamx / Instagram

Earlier this year, on February 4, the vehicle in which “El Mijis” was traveling was shot five times. The attack was perpetrated by two men on a motorcycle. A few days later he Tweeted a photograph of himself wearing a bulletproof vest. He wrote: “I can experience fear, but not cowardice; I have never left a struggle halfway through. I will continue doing my job and following my ideals”. 

He is not new to activism, as he has been involved in community work since 2003.

Credit: gabicompean / Instagram

He is the leader of the Movimiento Popular Juvenil. These ideals include community work, which started soon after his mother passed away. He recalls how he chose to hang around with his gang instead of seeing his sick mother, and how the guilt and shame hung over him. He sought to end violence in his community and reached out to the San Luis Potosi state government. He wasn’t heard. He chose Morena as his party and faced stigmatization and discrimination during the campaign. He was even kidnapped, a threat that attempted to convince him to stop his candidature. At the time he said he didn’t want to become a martyr. He discussed quitting politics with his family and decided to stay put.

When he was sworn in he wore jeans and a t-shirt.

Credit: lobatoali / Instagram

He has made a name for himself for standing up for who he is, and for owning his past mistakes. He refused to wear a suit when he was sworn in as a legislator. He claims that he wore jeans and a t-shirt to show solidarity with those who have been excluded by the political status quo, those who remain invisible.

He is an ally of the LGBTQ community.

Credit: ana.zareth / Instagram

As a former gang member, he knows what it means to be stigmatized and face discrimination while trying to be a member of society with the same rights as anyone else. He has shown his support for the LGBTQ community. He also supports initiatives in favor of animal rights, particularly around the criminalization of bullfighting. 

He wears his tattoos proudly.

Credit: obturepressagency / Instagram

While many politicians and everyday men and women hide their tattoos because they are seen by some as a sign of criminality (particularly in countries like Mexico), “El Mijis” wears them proudly and shows them off whenever he can. 

He survived a machete attack.

Credit: telediariomx / Instagram

Since he became an overnight celebrity, “El Mijis” has told unbelievable stories of his days as a gang member. He told Nacion 321 that he once survived a machete strike on the head and that he kept fighting “like a samurai”, getting wounded on the hand as well.

His origins are as humble as they come.

Credit: carlahz / Instagram

Even if he has the president’s ear today, there was a time when, as a 12 year old, he became a gang member after having begged for money juggling at traffic lights and singing in buses. How things change. 

He travelled the country with the project Un grito de existencia.

Credit: adn40mx / Instagram

Before being elected, he had already shown his skills for community organizing. He traveled more than 1800 kms speaking against the discrimination of people with tattoos and former gang members, advocating for social inclusion and job opportunities. 

He survived five suicide attempts.

Credit: aaroncadenaovalle / Instagram

After his mother’s death Pedro Carrizales became depressed and almost died by suicide. He told Nacion 321that he would throw himself at moving cars and that he once tried to hang himself but the branch broke off. 

He has 12 tattoos in total.

Credit: elj_30 / Instagram

Among these tattoos, one represents a dream he once had: a koi fish and storming clouds surrounding it. He also has a tattoo that reads “Becerra”, his mother’s last name. Perhaps the most significant is a mythical Phoenix, a sign of rebirth.

He has experienced real struggle, and he plans to legislate accordingly.

Credit: bobadilladeanda / Instagram

He argues that the beginning of change is full respect of human rights. We know he is right, but we hope that he can change the hearts and minds of so many politicians that think otherwise.

He has said he wants to be president one day, and he has been mocked for it.

Credit: enredesnoticias / Instagram

Pundits such as Ricardo Aleman have belittled Carrizales’ dream of leading the country. He has replied like a true gentleman. Here, he tells a journalist: “I am not sure what your motives are, but while you are attacking me I am defending you with a call to improve protection for journalists.” Touche! 

He plans to bike to Central America.

Credit: revistalacorriente / Instagram

Even if he is a legislator now, he has continued with his activism in favor of former gang members. He plans to expand his advocacy to Central America, a region ravaged by civil unrest and violence produced by gangs such as MS-13. This is both a smart political move given the current migratory crisis and a coherent episode of his improbable life story.

READ: From Gang Member To Emmy-Nominated Actor: Here Is The Incredible Life Story Of Richard Cabral

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Women Are Speaking Out About What Changed Their Minds About Abortion

Fierce

Women Are Speaking Out About What Changed Their Minds About Abortion

Mark Reinstein / Getty

With so much at stake this election year, it’s important to understand the circumstances behind some of our biggest beliefs. Currently there are little questions as to whether Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is in opposition to a person’s right to abortion. Her Catholic faith, her academic writing, and accounts from friends affirm that she has opposes the medical procedure. During a 2017 confirmation hearing for her current position as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, Coney Barret stated that she was bound to follow the Roe decision as an appeals court judge stating “Roe has been affirmed many times and survived many challenges in the court… And it’s more than 40 years old, and it’s clearly binding on all courts of appeals. And so it’s not open to me or up to me, and I would have no interest in, as a court of appeals judge, challenging that precedent.”

There’s likely no chance of changing her mind, but we were curious about how women felt.

A recent post on Reddit posed the question: What changed your mind on abortion?

Check out the answers below!

“Being pregnant (with a very much wanted baby). I’ve always been pro choice, but learning about how much can go wrong in a pregnancy made it very apparent abortion is far from a black and white issue. For example, say the fetus has some defect where it can be carried to term, but will 100% die shortly after birth. There is no reason the mother should be forced to carry out the whole pregnancy. There are so many other nuances like this that are not possible to legislate.” – kittyinparis

“having one myself. i was religious, orthodox christian once upon a time. i hate to be one of those people who didn’t understand something until i experienced it myself but it is what it was. i extremely naive and ignorant because i thought that it was as simple as “don’t get pregnant if you don’t want a kid”. but it’s really not. and you never know what someone’s story is. and even then, regardless of their situation i think if someone doesn’t want to be pregnant it’s immoral to force them to be.” – Reddit user

“Honestly? Biology class. They went over sexual reproduction step by step and I just couldn’t buy the whole “humanity begins at conception” thing anymore. Then I started reading what all those scary buzzwords meant and I got a bit pissed off. Turns out the evil “partial-birth abortions” are usually called D&Es and they’re usually only done to babies with no chance of survival or in the cases of miscarriages. That’s not evil. That’s sad. I felt lied to, in a big way.” – Moritani

“I learned more about the concepts of bodily autonomy and consent and decided that it’s wrong to force people to remain pregnant against their will.” – enerjem

“When I first learned about the concept it seemed like a terrible thing but even after just 20 minutes of research (I did a lot more clearly, but this is just to emphasize how simple this decision was) I became pro-choice at 14ish, and I’ve had that stance ever since. So I only barely changed my mind really, but I think it counts because without looking into it I could’ve gone on believing it to be morally repugnant just because of what it sounds like and because it’s a subject that’s so easy to get carried away on and not look at objectively.” – ypical_Humanoid

“Paying my own bills. It’s a lot harder to feed two mouths than one.” – Reddit user

“Having kids. Pre-kids i was very prolife. Went to rallys and everything. Would have stressed and felt guilty if i got pregnant and dont knownwhat i would have chosen though. 4 kids later and several oops…im very pro choice.” – Strikingachord

“I was pro-life until I was about 13. I figure my brain developed more and I was then better able to see the issue in a more global and expansive way and determined that pro-choice was the most ethical stance.” – searedscallops

“Meeting someone in college who had had one in the past, and who spoke openly about it. She didn’t regret it or torture herself with guilt and shame over it, but she wasn’t a depraved monster, either. She was a wonderful person who did what was best for herself and her situation.” –coffeeblossom

“Having to get one myself.” –aj4ever

“I don’t know that I was ever pro-life in the same way I don’t think I was ever really Christian. I grew up in an Evangelical Protestant denomination, and until about middle school I mostly parroted things I heard. Things like “hate the sin love the sinner” for anything from being gay to probably having an abortion.

Sometime around middle school I started questioning all of it, forming my own opinions on things. I landed on atheist pro-choice feminist and have stayed there since.” – DejaBlonde

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Joe Biden Walks Away With Final Presidential Debate On Healthcare, Covid, And Many Issues

Things That Matter

Joe Biden Walks Away With Final Presidential Debate On Healthcare, Covid, And Many Issues

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden sparred during the final presidential debate. The two presidential nominees debated on issues ranging from healthcare to immigration to Trump’s finances. President Trump started controlled and quickly lost control of his temperament and spiraled for much of the debate.

First, people are giving the praise to the moderator, journalist Kristen Welker.

Welker is a reporter and White House correspondent for NBC News. As moderator of the final presidential debate, Welker kept the conversation moving forward. She was also able to stop President Trump on numerous occasions when he began spiraling as the debate went on.

One of the most stunning moments was President Trump claims that low IQ immigrants show up to court dates.

“Only the really – I hate to say this, but those with the lowest IQ. They might come back,” Trump said.

That was President Trump’s response to a question about catch and release. The catch and release program allowed for immigrants to come to the U.S., declare their intent for asylum, and be released to, usually, family members. They are then given a court date to plead their case for asylum. An overwhelming number of asylum seekers do show up to their court cases to make sure they have the chance to seek asylum.

The Trump administration eliminated the program and began what is called “Remain in Mexico.” The current plan forces migrants to wait in other countries while waiting for their day in immigration court.

When given a chance to address the 545 migrant children missing their parents, President Trump claimed they were being taken care of.

President Trump dodged questions about healthcare.

The rushed confirmation of Supreme Court Justice pick Amy Coney Barrett could have serious repercussions for people and their health care. The Trump administration is going to be challenging the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, in hopes of overturning the healthcare law. This would eliminate protections for people with preexisting conditions, including diabetes, cancer, and pregnancy.

There is currently a lot of debate over whether or not a Covid-19 diagnosis would become a preexisting condition. More than 220,000 Americans have contracted the virus and the Affordable Care Act is in jeopardy because of the Trump administration.

President Trump still hasn’t released his tax returns.

Recent news about President Trump’s taxes made national headlines. Americans learned that President Trump recently paid $750 in taxes and that the president has a private bank account in China. According to his own tax returns, Trump paid more than $188,000 in taxes to the Chinese government. The bank account was previously unknown information.

Joe Biden appealed to the American voters and families.

Biden avoided getting into arguments during the debate and kept focused on the issues and how they impacted the American family. From Covid to the economy, Biden touched on all of the issues that keep American families up at night. Biden offered plans to stop the spread of Covid-19 but promoting the use of masks and safely reopening the U.S. economy to boost the economy and save lives.

Viewers are calling the debate a victory for the Biden campaign.

Several snap polls form different organizations show that people consider Biden the winner of this debate. Biden told the American people that is was running to be the American president, not a Democrat president. Biden promised to be the president for all American people and to take care of everyone, regardless of whether or not they voted for him.

READ: The First Presidential Debate Went Off The Rails Fast And The Internet Had Fun With It

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com