Things That Matter

Indigenous Environmental Activist Irma Galindo Barrios Has Been Found Ten Days After Going Missing

To be a journalist, an elected official, a business owner, and an activist in Mexico can be very risky. The same could be said for other countries as well. Speaking your mind, making changes, and reporting facts can cost you your life. Many people have died because of the work they do in Mexico. So, anytime anyone goes missing, people go on high-alert because it’s never just a random thing. These matters are very serious and need to be addressed.

On Nov. 10, an environmentalist based in Oaxaca went missing. Her name is Irma Galindo Barrios, and her activism work focuses on the protection of the forest in Oaxaca.

Credit: irmis.barrios / Facebook

Just weeks before, when she went missing, the 36-year-old posted on her Facebook that she felt she was being threatened by the president and commissioner of San Esteban Atatlahuaca, Oaxaca, among others. 

“For days my own neighbors told me that they will come for me,” she wrote on Oct. 27. Galindo Barrios added that she is “only an artisan and ecologist and healer.” She said that local officials were spreading lies about her. 

“It is the same strategy that the commissioner and the president used to get me out of town hall because I did not agree to invest more in alcohol than in cultural activities,” she added, “I live in good view Totoi in case they want to come for me, just let me know beforehand to wait for them.”

On Nov. 8, she made a post on Facebook in which she called out local officials for not protecting the communities from loggers. She went missing two days later. 

Credit: @UnoNoticias / Twitter

Galindo Barrios posted information about the injuries, and reportedly, their subsequent death of two people in the forest of San Esteban Atatlahuca. She wrote that people in the area needed protection. 

According to blogs, Galindo Barrios’s partner has asked officials for protection in the past, but the request has never been granted. 

Just yesterday, Galindo Barrios was apparently found after ten days of her unknown whereabouts. According to reports, she hid in the forest for protection in fear that her life was in danger. 

Credit: @Altavoznoticias / Twitter

Gloria Flores, who works with the National Network of Human Rights Defenders, reports that Galindo Barrios’s house was burned and added that the most terrifying aspect is that Galindo Barrios “denounced the situation” occurring in her native land and nothing has been done about it. Flores added that Galindo Barrios must be able to continue her work as a defender of environmental rights, in order to protect their land and protect others from intimidation or worse. 

While the work of activists in Mexico has always been under threat, reports show that the lives of activists are considerably in danger more now than ever before.

Credit: @Andalalucha / Twitter

According to Amnesty International and Global Witness, at least 41 activists have been killed in the past three years. The trend has been increasing since 2017. Amnesty International reports that 12 murders happened this year alone. Amnesty International’s Americas director Erika Guevara-Rosas said that Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador should call out the atrocities against activists and should do something to protect them.

She called their work incredibly important to the country, and are “brave defenders of the land, territory, and environment face constant danger in Mexico.” She the president must “publicly recognize activists for their invaluable contribution to the protection of natural resources.”

The threat against environmentalists is an extremely serious situation in Mexico. In 2018, indigenous rights activist Julián Carrillo who was also an environmentalist activist like Galindo Barrios was killed in Chihuahua after numerous threats against him and his family.

Credit: @AIMexico / Twitter

“After a year, the Mexican authorities still haven’t tried those responsible for Carrillo’s death. As of now, two people have been detained and are being investigated, but they still haven’t determined responsibility,” Amnesty International said in a press release. They added, “The fight for the rights of the land and against indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources, carried out by defenders of land and territory, deserves all of our solidarity and support, given our fundamental obligation to leave a healthy environment for future generations.” 

Galindo Barrios has yet to make a public statement about what happened to her while she was missing and what she plans to do next.

READ: In Mexico, Feminist Activists Honored Victims of Femicide by Marching During What they Called “Día de Muertas”

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America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post


America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

It has been 20 years since America Ferrera’s dream of becoming an actor back true. She took to Instagram to reflect on the moment that her dream started to come true and it is a sweet reminder that anyone can chase their dreams.

America Ferrera shared a sweet post reflecting on the 20th anniversary of working on “Gotta Kick It Up!”

“Gotta Kick It Up!” was one of the earliest examples of Latino representation so many of us remember. The movie follows a school dance team trying to be the very best they could possibly be. The team was down on their luck but a new teacher introduces them to a different kind of music to get them going again.

After being introduced to Latin beats, the dance team is renewed. It taps into a cultural moment for the Latinas on the team and the authenticity of the music makes their performances some of the best.

While the movie meant so much to Latino children seeing their culture represented for the first time, the work was a major moment for Ferrera. In the Instagram post, she gushes over the celebrities she saw on the lot she was working on. Of course, anyone would be excited to see Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt hanging out. Yet, what stands out the most is Ferrera’s own excitement to realize that she can make money doing what she loves most.

“I wish I could go back and tell this little baby America that the next 20 years of her life will be filled with unbelievable opportunity to express her talent and plenty of challenges that will allow her to grow into a person, actress, producer, director, activist that she is very proud and grateful to be. We did it baby girl. I’m proud of us,” Ferrera reflects.

Watch the trailer for “Gotta Kick It Up!” here.

READ: America Ferrera’s “Superstore” Is Going To Get A Spanish-Language Adaptation In A Win For Inclusion

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi


This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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