Things That Matter

From Protests To Soccer Matches, The 2010s Have Been Full Of Historic Moments Across Latin America

The 2010s was by all accounts a convoluted decade the world over. As the decade started, it all seemed to be sort of fine and dandy after the world had managed to slowly pull itself together after the Global Financial Crisis that welcomed Barack Obama to the presidency. However, as the decade comes to a close things have gone de mal en peor for the world in general, but for the Latino population in the United States and Latin America as a region in particular.

Latinos in the US are facing unprecedented discrimination as immigration policies are tightened and white supremacists are emboldened by political discourse.

Latin American nations are facing challenges such as the overbearing influence of the drug cartels, conservative governments that cater for the interests of the most powerful and increased class warfare (countries like Mexico, Colombia and Chile, for example, are experiencing radical social polarization due to conflicting political views). 

Let’s start with a positive note. “Despacito” makes Latino music mainstream throughout the world in 2017.

This might seem like a banal example, but that is not a fair assessment. Luis Fonsi did what even big acts such as Ricky Martin and Shakira failed to do: he took Spanish-language music to markets that were previously hard to break into, such as the highly profitable Asian music scene. Des-pa-ci-to is the tune of the decade, regardless of language. 

Female presidents became the thing in South America.

Credit: Dario Oliveira / Anadolu Agency

In the mid 2010s female presidents in Latin America formed an alliance and stateswomen like Dilma Roussef in Brazil, Michelle Bachelet in Chile and Cristina Kirchner in Argentina promised to lead the continent towards a brighter future. Even though their political fates ended up being grim, they collectively challenged the patriarchal structures in the highest echelons of political power in the continent. 

United States-Cuba relations became even more of a roller coaster.

Since Fidel Castro’s revolution in the 1960s, relationships between the US and Cuba have been rocky, to say the least. However, president Barack Obama opened up the Cuban market for American business (folk could finally get Cohiba cigars legally yo!). But as has happened with most of Obama’s foreign policy efforts, this increased closeness with the island has been reversed by the Donald J. Trump administration.

DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Even though the Trump administration has practically waged a war against this legislative initiative that grants a deferred action to people who were taken to the US as minors, this remains a high point for Latino culture. The act was approved by then president Barack Obama in 2012 and is now at risk of being cancelled. 

Brazilians said enough is enough: they love soccer, but they protested the 2014 World Cup.

The South American country is synonymous with soccer: they love the beautiful game and live for it. However, they grew tired of overspending when the country was living an economic crisis and government services were mediocre, to say the least. Brazilians took to the streets to denounce government corruption and the pan y circo approach to public administration. By the way: the national team did terribly and they suffered a humiliating defeat to Germany in the semifinals.  

Haiti is also part of Latin America and its capital city basically crumbled in the fatal 2010 earthquake.

We often forget that the French-speaking country of Haiti, one of the poorest in the world and the only nation founded by emancipated slaves, is also part of Latin America. In 2010 the island nation which borders with the Dominican Republic suffered a devastating earthquake that forced the displacement of 5 million people, caused cholera outbreaks. Approximately 250,000 people died and 300,000 were injured. This was basically the end of the world for many. For the rest of the decade Haitians migrated to countries such as Mexico, which launched a special program to host some of the displaced. 

Roma became the film event of the decade in the Spanish-speaking world.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron partnered with Netflix to launch the 2018 film Roma, which is perhaps the best representation of Latin American identity in terms of gender, political and racial relationships ever captured on film.

The story of a domestic worker and the tribulations of the middle-class family for which she works broke into the mainstream and won Oscars, such as Best Director and Best Cinematography, generally reserved for English-language films released by one of the big studios. The film also triggered discussions around race and privilege in Mexico due to the criticisms received by the lead actress, indigenous woman Yalitza Aparicio. 

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A University Is Releasing A Historic Mexican Cookbook Filled With Recipes You’d Want To Try

Culture

A University Is Releasing A Historic Mexican Cookbook Filled With Recipes You’d Want To Try

UTSA

The University of Texas San Antonio is bringing the history of Mexico into our kitchens. The university is releasing cookbooks that are collections of historic Mexican recipes. Right now, the desserts book is out and online for free. Main dishes and appetizers/drinks are coming soon.

You can now taste historic Mexico thanks to the University of Texas San Antonio.

UTSA has had an ongoing project of preserving, collecting, and digitizing cookbooks from throughout Mexico’s history. Some books date back to the 1700s and offer a look into Mexico’s culinary arts and its evolution.

UTSA has been digitizing Mexican cookbooks for years and the work is now being collected for people in the time of Covid.

Millions of us are still at home and projects like these can be very exciting and exactly what you need. The recipes are a way to distract yourself from the current reality.

“The e-pubs allow home cooks to use the recipes as inspiration in their own kitchens,” Dean Hendrix, the dean of UTSA Libraries, said in UTSA Today. “Our hope is that many more people will not only have access to these wonderful recipes but also interact with them and experience the rich culture and history contained in the collection.”

The free downloads are a way for people to get a very in-depth look into Mexican food history.

The first of three volumes of the cookbooks focuses on desserts so you can learn how to make churros, chestnut flan, buñelos, and rice pudding. What better way to spend your quarantine than learning how to make some of these yummy desserts. We all love sweets, right?

If you want to get better with making your favorite desserts, check out this cookbook and make it happen.

There is nothing better than diving into your history and using food as your guide. Food is so intrinsically engrained in our DNAs and identities. We love the foods and sweets from our childhood because they hold a clue as to who we are and where we come from. This historical collection of recipes throughout history is the perfect way to make that happen.

READ: The Laziest Food Hacks In All Of The Land Would Send Your Abuela To The Chancla

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Here’s Everything You Should Know About The Problematic And Racist Statues Being Torn Down Across The Country

Things That Matter

Here’s Everything You Should Know About The Problematic And Racist Statues Being Torn Down Across The Country

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

So many of the headlines about the recent protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder have been about “senseless” property destruction. But several of the damaged sites have a perfectly sensible and very visceral connection to the protester’s chief issue: anti-Black racism.

Protests have burned down buildings and toppled statutes that have stood for years as blatant reminders of the country’s history of chattel slavery, racial injustice, and the war that was fought to uphold it.

“In many cases, preserving history was not the true goal of these displays,” former Southern Poverty Law Center president Richard Cohen said of the center’s 2016 report that found at least 1,500 US government-backed tributes to the Confederacy

“Rather, many of them were part of an effort to glorify a cause that was manifestly unjust — a cause that has been whitewashed by revisionist propaganda that began almost as soon as the Civil War ended. Other displays were intended as acts of defiance by white supremacists opposed to equality for African Americans during the civil rights movement.”

So how do you remove a racist monument? This week, the world is witnessing all the satisfyingly destructive ways

All around the country, protesters are removing statutes – but who were these historical figures?

Protesters in Richmond, Virginia, toppled a statue of Jefferson Davis. Earlier in the week, they dragged one of Christopher Columbus into a pond. A bronze monument of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol, England, met a watery demise (it’s since been fished out). An Egyptologist shared step-by-step instructions for how one might pull down an obelisk with ropes and brute force. In Boston, a statue of Columbus was beheaded.

The viral removals of monuments symbolizing racial terror are a push back on a culture that values violence and embeds false narratives about history into its landscapes – especially when it comes to America’s history as a slave-owning nation.

But who or what were these statutes memorializing and why do protesters want them taken down? Below we’ll detail some of the more common statues that are being torn down across the U.S.

Juan de Oñate

Credit: Susan Montoya Bryan / Getty Images

A conquistador and the first Spanish governor of New Mexico, Oñate sought to colonize the Acoma Pueblo, and when spiritual leader Zutacapan learned of the plans, a battle ensued, killing a dozen of Oñate’s men, including his nephew.

Oñate responded by exacting a massacre, leaving 800 dead, 300 of them women and children. Twenty-four men older than 25 had their right feet chopped off, and were enslaved for 20 years, along with many other Acoma, some as young as 12.

Jefferson Davis

In Richmond, Virginia and Minneapolis, MN, statues honoring the Confederate leader, Jefferson Davis, have finally been brought down. Many know about Davis’ history as president of the Confederacy: he lead a rebellion against his own country, owned hundreds of slaves, and fought to preserve his right to do so. He’s long been a target of protesters who have worked in city after city to have monuments built to this man taken down.

Junipero Serra

Credit: David Shmalz / Getty Images

Serra was active in the Spanish Inquisition and later led the first team of Spanish missionaries to California in 1769, which contributed to the killing and enslavement of thousands of native people and stripped many more of their cultural identity.

Part of dealing with current issues of systemic racism, many advocates have said, must include confronting the country’s colonial legacy of slavery and genocide. And it begins with symbols.

Symbols of Spanish colonialism can be found throughout California, largest among them the state’s 21 missions and the many statues dedicated to those who founded them.

Ulysses Grant

Credit: Michell Eberhart / Public Domain / Army.Gov

As president, Grant broke the KKK and fought for Black voting rights with a tenacity few other presidents have rivaled. 

But Grant’s legacy also has less admirable aspects. Grant’s wife had legal ownership of several Black people when he married her, and he himself kept a person in slavery for a year before freeing him at the start of the Civil War.

As president, Grant’s policy towards Native American people could easily be described as cultural genocide. He instigated an illegal and bloody war against the Lakota people of the Black Hills, and used federal force to push Native people onto reservations and to slaughter the buffalo they relied on for food. “American Indians experienced some of the worst massacres and grossest injustices in history while Ulysses S Grant was in office,” Alysa Landry writes at Indian Country Today

Francis Scott Key

Credit: Jose Barrios / Getty Images

Francis Scott Key, the author of America’s national anthem, not only personally enslaved people but also tried to silence the free speech of abolitionists, using his position as district attorney for Washington DC in the 1830s to launch high-profile cases attacking the abolitionist movement.

In San Francisco, protesters dragged the Key statue through the grass and were going to dump it in a nearby fountain, until they were told the fountain was a memorial to the Aids epidemic and stopped, a witness tweeted.

Theodore Roosevelt

Credit: Scott Heins / Getty Images

Theodore Roosevelt is often looked upon fondly by many Americans. He advocated for the preservation of America’s national parks and worked hard to ensure economic prosperity. But to others, the former President symbolizes colonial expansion and racial discrimination.

So, in New York, the American Museum of Natural History will remove a prominent statue of Theodore Roosevelt from its entrance.

“The American Museum of Natural History has asked to remove the Theodore Roosevelt statue because it explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior,” de Blasio said in a written statement. “The City supports the Museum’s request. It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue.”

Robert Byrd

Credit: White House.gov

Robert Byrd was the longest serving U.S. Senator. But before he kicked off his long political career, he wrote a letter decrying then-President Truman’s efforts to integrate the military. He’d rather see his country crumble, he wrote, than fight “with a negro by my side.”

Perhaps this isn’t surprising from a onetime exalted cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan. Even after he supposedly renounced the Klan, he filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and was the only senator who voted against the confirmations of the country’s two black Supreme Court justices, Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas.

In his later years, he referred to same-sex marriage as “aberrant behavior” and told an interviewer in 2001, “There are white n***ers. I’ve seen a lot of white n***ers in my time.”

Christoper Columbus

Ok, sure, we all know who Christoper Columbus is and the horrific acts that he committed against Indigenous Americans. But to many, he is still the founder of the “New World” and if often praised for the “discovery” of the Americas. His expeditions are all too often seen as a great triumph as they brought great wealth and riches to Spain and other European countries – through exploiting Indigenous people.

Thankfully, more recent histories of the adventurer have focused on the slave trade in the Americas and the imported European diseases which wiped out Indigenous peoples of the Caribbean region and American continents.

Historians have credited Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas as the beginning of the slaughter of 3 million people – and his statue in North End Park in Boston, US, was decapitated on June 10.

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