Things That Matter

‘Coco’ Actor Gael García Bernal Accuses Mexican President Of Having A Part In The Mormon Family Slaying

This week, the brutal slaying of a Mormon family in Mexico spurned various discussions the way the situation has been handled by both the Mexican and United States government.

On Monday, nine members of a Mormon family traveling to a wedding in Chihuahua, Mexico were hunted down and massacred by armed men in a cartel. The victims included members of the LeBarón, Rhonita Maria LeBarón (a 30-year-old mother) and six children. According to reports, three mothers and their children were driving from their fundamentalist Mormon community in a convoy of three SUVs when they were attacked, for unknown reasons. Mexico’s top security official, Alfonso Durazo, has said that the men involved in the killing may have assumed that the SUV convoy was a rival gang. While Mexican police have arrested a suspected drug lord behind the massacre, the case is still under investigation and many are calling out the Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for his comments about the attack that occurred on Monday. 

 Including the Mexican Golden Globe-winning actor Gael García Bernal.

The “Coco” actor called out López Obrador on social media earlier this week, accusing the president of a lack of proper action and playing a part in the attack. 

“Every femicide, every murder, every injustice against children and old people. Terrible what happened yesterday. What happens daily, damn. How sad,” García Bernal wrote in a tweet. 

The  40-year-old award-winning actor has a reputation for of speaking up and out when it comes to matters that are about politics. He’s been vocal in the past about his contempt for President Donald Trump and his attack on minorities and people of color. Back in 2015, García Bernal spoke to the Guardian lambasted the president saying  “I mean, he called Mexicans rapists and drug dealers. How closed-minded and fucking ignorant is that? At first, you don’t listen, but then it reaches a point where you go, OK, now he’s created exactly what he maybe wanted to, which is that people are angry. I’m upset. I’m upset if I listen to anybody talk like that. We started to give Donald Trump so much space, and we started to validate his opinion, as if it’s like, ‘You know, it’s a valid opinion.’ No, it’s not valid. It’s hate discourse, and what follows next is genocide or civil war. I mean, that’s how it begins.”Speaking about the LeBaron murders, Garcia wrote to his Twitter followers that “If the government and [President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador] don’t change the narrative to assume their responsibilities, why the hell did we vote for you guys… You better fully assume responsibility and do the impossible so that this doesn’t happen again.”

As of Thursday, his tweet has generated thousands of comments and 8,600 retweets.

The act of violence has highlighted the different takes that Donald Trump and Manuel have taken on violence in Mexico.

“If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters,” Trump tweeted. “The United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively. The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!”

In a follow-up tweet, Trump suggested it was time for a “war,” saying, “This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!”

During a daily press briefing, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador rebuffed Trump’s suggestion, saying, “It’s not in agreement with our convictions. The worst thing is war.”

García Bernal became an active voice promoting the Mexican president during his election in 2018 but has since been critical of him. 

In 2018, after the Mexican governor bestowed the Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor it gives to foreigners, to Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, García Bernal was quick to slam the decision. At the time, Bernal accused Manuel of shaming the honor. “What level of self-inflicted humiliation, demerging any added value that such decoration might have. Shame. Tremendous. And do not say the pissing that causes us,” he wrote in a tweet. Speaking about the LeBaron murders, Garcia wrote to his Twitter followers that “If the government and [President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador] don’t change the narrative to assume their responsibilities, why the hell did we vote for you guys… You better fully assume responsibility and do the impossible so that this doesn’t happen again.”

As of Thursday, his tweet generated thousands of comments and 8,600 retweets.

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A Tourist Was Arrested For Illegally Climbing Up The Pyramid of Kukulkán

Culture

A Tourist Was Arrested For Illegally Climbing Up The Pyramid of Kukulkán

Jon G. Fuller / VW PICS / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It is important to be a responsible tourist. This means following rules, acting responsibly, and not violating sacred places. That is something one tourist learned the hard way when she climbed the Pyramid of Kukulkán in Chichén Itzá.

Here’s the video of a tourist running down the steps of the Pyramid of Kukulkán.

The Pyramid of Kukulkán is one of the most iconic examples of Pre-Hispanic architecture and culture in Mesoamerica. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico. In 2017, more than 2 million visitors descended on the site.

Of course, #LadyKukulkan started to trend on Twitter.

You know that Twitter was ready to start calling out this woman for her actions. According to Yucatán Expat Life Magazine, the woman was there to honor her husband’s dying wish. The woman, identified as a tourist from Tijuana, wanted to spread her husband’s ashes on the top of the pyramid, which it seems that she did.

The video was a moment for Mexican Twitter.

Not only was she arrested by security when she descended, but the crowd was also clearly against her. Like, what was she even thinking? It isn’t like the pyramid is crawling with tourists all over it. She was the only person climbing the pyramid, which is federally owned and cared for.

The story is already sparking ideas for other people when they die.

“Me: (to my parents) Have you read about #ladykukulkan?
My Dad: Yes! (to my mom) When I die, I want you to scatter my ashes in the National Palace so they call you “Lady Palace,” sounds better, no?” wrote @hania_jh on Twitter.

READ: Mexico’s Version Of Burning Man Became A COVID-19 Super-Spreader Event Thanks To U.S. Tourists

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These Women Created A Cookbook That Honors Victims of Mexico’s Violence With Their Favorite Recipes

Things That Matter

These Women Created A Cookbook That Honors Victims of Mexico’s Violence With Their Favorite Recipes

FRANCISCO ROBLES/AFP via Getty Images

Despite a slight change in strategy in combatting the country’s endemic violence, Mexico continues to see a staggering degree of violence plaguing communities. Although the country’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, promised sweeping changes that would help pacify the country – violence has continues to spiral out of control, reaching record levels in 2020.

No where is this more evident than in the communities that have lost dozens or even hundreds of loved ones. Many of these communities have formed search brigades to help try and find their loved ones (or their remains) but they’re also getting creative with the ways in which they work to remember those they’ve lost.

A search brigade publishes a recipe book containing their loved ones’ favorite foods.

A group of women who came together to help locate the remains of their loved ones, have worked together on a new project to help remember their loved ones. Together, they have created Recipes to Remember, a book of favourite dishes of some of the missing. Each dish has the name of the person it was made for and the date they disappeared. It was the idea of Zahara Gómez Lucini, a Spanish-Argentine photographer who has documented the group since 2016.

The women are known as the Rasteadoras, and they’ve literally been digging to uncover graves of Mexico’s missing. Now, they’re finding ways to help remember those who have gone missing. The book is a way to strengthen the community and as one of the mothers told The Financial Times, “the book is a tool for building ties.”

“This recipe book is very important because it’s an exercise in collective memory and that’s very necessary,” says Enrique Olvera, the chef and restaurateur behind Pujol in Mexico City and Cosme in New York and a sponsor of the book. “It enables the Rastreadoras to connect with the memory of their loved ones through food and brings us, the readers, closer … It weaves empathy,” he told the Financial Times.

Many of these women came to know each other as they searched for their missing loved ones.

The women – who are mostly housewives in their 40s and 50s – literally scour the nearby grasslands, deserts, and jungles with shovels in hands hoping to make a discovery.

Their “treasures” are among the more than 82,000 people recorded as having disappeared and not been located in Mexico since 2006, when the government declared a war on drug cartels, unleashing terrible, seemingly unstoppable violence. Notwithstanding Covid-19, 2020 may prove to have been the deadliest year on record. As of November there had been 31,871 murders, compared with a record 34,648 in 2019.

Their stories of loss are heartbreaking.

One of the mothers, Jessica Higuera Torres, speaks of her son Jesús Javier López Higuera, who disappeared in 2018, in the present tense. For the book, she prepared a soup with pork rind because “he loves it — when I was cooking, I felt as though he was by my side.”

On the other hand, Esther Preciado no longer cooks chile ribs, her recipe for her daughter’s father, Vladimir Castro Flores, who has been missing since 2013. “That one’s just for the memories now,” she says.

“You get addicted to searching,” she adds. The 120 or so Rastreadoras have found 68 people, but only about a quarter of those are their missing loved ones. She acknowledges many victims may have got into trouble because they sold or used drugs; others were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Mexico’s missing person problem continues to plague the country.

Since taking office in 2018, the government of President López Obrador has stepped up efforts to locate missing people and identify bodies. It says the number of reported disappearances for 2020 was trending down. But the government acknowledged in November that in 2019, a record 8,804 people had been reported missing and not been found.

According to official data, Mexico has counted 4,092 clandestine graves and exhumed 6,900 bodies since 2006. Sinaloa is notorious as the home of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, once Mexico’s most powerful drug baron, now locked up in a maximum-security jail in the U.S. The city of Los Mochis, where the Rastreadoras are based, is currently in the grip of Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, known as El Chapo Isidro.

The Rastreadoras acknowledge that they’re on their own, turning to the authorities for help is not an option. As shown in the mass disappearance of 43 Mexican students in 2014, which rocked the country, municipal police have a terrible reputation for being infiltrated by cartels. “They won’t help us — they’re the same ones who are involved,” scoffs Reyna Rodríguez Peñuelas, whose son, Eduardo González Rodríguez, disappeared in 2016.

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