Things That Matter

Journalist Found Dead In Mexico, Becomes 12th Killed This Year, After Criticizing Local Authorities

There is terrible news out of Mexico where the body of journalist Nevith Condés Jaramillo was found dead on the evening of August 24 in a home in the municipality of Tejupilco. Condes was a well-known journalist in the state who ran the local news site, El Observatorio del Sur, and was also an announcer on a community radio station. Reports say that Condes was found dead as a result of being stabbed multiple times, according to state prosecutor who made the announcement on Saturday. The murder case is currently being treated as a homicide as investigators look for any suspects. 

The 42-year-old would publish stories and news reports that caused tensions with the local government, this resulted in various threats back in June and November. Condes would eventually request federal protection because of these ongoing threats but reportedly didn’t comply with some procedures due to certain bureaucratic procedures involved. He becomes the third journalist killed in Mexico this August and the twelfth journalist killed in the country this year alone, according to Mexico’s human rights watchdog. 

The killing adds to a growing list of reporter deaths in one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the press.

Credit: @drconsultores / Twitter

The Mexican National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) denounced the killing of Condes in a public statement. The organization is calling for an independent and thorough investigation into this latest death.

“Violence against journalists, in all its forms, is one of the main obstacles for our country to consolidate itself as a democracy, hence the need for the authorities of the three levels of government to focus on the prevention, protection and timely investigation of these facts, the statement said. “With this homicide, there are already 153 journalists killed since 2000, and 12 so far in 2019.”

As of now, human rights defenders are asking authorities of Tejupilco to protect the family of the murdered journalist and requested that the “possible relationship of the crime with their journalistic activity” be looked into and fully investigated. 

There has been an outpouring of reactions to the senseless murder on social media from fellow journalists who are hoping to see an end of this trend. 

Credit: @notociasmundo2020 / Twitter

There has been an outpouring on anger and sadness since the news of Condes’s murder broke last week. Many journalists in Mexico and around the world have chimed in on the tragedy calling for immediate action. 

“All our solidarity with the family and colleagues of the Mexican journalist #NevithCondesJaramillo murdered. Without secure journalism and decent and long-lasting jobs, democracy corrodes in its foundations. Populism began destroying serious journalism,” Fernando Vidal, a fellow Mexican journalist tweeted. 

The latest journalist murder underscores the growing dangers for media members in the country who are being attacked in record numbers. 

Credit: @univ_english / Twitter

Advocacy group, Reporters Without Borders, which releases annual rankings of the world’s most dangerous countries for news media, placed Mexico alongside war-torn Syria and Afghanistan. The country has been plagued with ongoing drug and gang violence since 2006. Murders in the country have spiked in the first half of this year and at this current pace, it will most likely be the highest on record, according to official data.

Just last month there were similar murders in Mexico that left three journalists killed within a week. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent non-profit organization, condemned the killings and called on Mexico to take action on the growing problem. 

“These two brutal killings within days of each other are the tragic consequence of Mexico’s failure to seriously address impunity in attacks on the press,” the group said in a statement. 

The spiraling violence underscores the challenges President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has faced since taking office in December with promises and initiatives to reduce violence in the country ravaged by notorious drug traffickers. The violence that has been linked to drug trafficking and political corruption is growing rampant in Mexico with many murders going unpunished.

“Collusion between officials and organized crime poses a grave threat to journalists’ safety and cripples the judicial system at all levels,” the RSF said in a statement. “As a result, Mexico is sinking ever deeper into a spiral of violence and impunity and continues to be Latin America’s most dangerous country for reporters.”

READ: First It Was Soap And Toothbrushes, Now CBP Won’t Provide Flu Vaccines To Migrants In Detention Centers

One Of Mexico’s Biggest Beer Brands Is In Hot Water After Using Guillermo Del Toro’s Art Work Without His Permission

Entertainment

One Of Mexico’s Biggest Beer Brands Is In Hot Water After Using Guillermo Del Toro’s Art Work Without His Permission

@redAMLOmexico / Twitter

Artists often take inspiration from the works of other artists. This happens across all forms of art, from playwriting to musical composition to poetry. It certainly happens in the visual arts as well, where artists will make references or even directly incorporate aspects of another artist’s work into their own. But reproducing and selling an artist’s works without his or her explicit consent, consists of copyright infringement. That’s kind of what Cerveza Victoria is looking at, after their ‘limited edition’ Guillermo del Toro beer collection dropped — without Del Toro’s approval. 

On today’s case of “Who approved this?,” Grupo Modelo —the large Mexican brewery that exports beers we all know and love, such as Corona, Modelo, Pacifico and Victoria— managed to anger one of the most beloved Mexicans in the world: Guillermo del Toro.

Cerveza Victoria, recently announced a beer can collection featuring three specially designed cans featuring the director’s face, and two of his iconic monsters; one from his acclaimed film “Pan’s Labyrinth,” the other from his Oscar winning picture “The Shape of Water.”

The cans, designed by illustrator Guy Davis, were to be sold in convenience stores in Mexico City, Jalisco, San Luis Potosí, Michoacán and México state.

Here’s where things turn sour. Guillermo del Toro called out Victoria, and Grupo Modelo, for using his image and those of his characters, without his permission.

‘The Shape of Water’ director tweeted at Cerveza Victoria on Thursday, and urged the company to donate all the profits raised from the sales of the beer collection to young students competing in math and robotics competitions. “Very poorly done, @VictoriaMX. These cans do not have my authorization, my consultation or my signature to use my image or my name . . .” he tweeted in Spanish.

But why, oh why, would a huge company such as Cerveza Victoria, follow through with such a massive marketing strategy like this without even asking the artist himself for his consent?

As it turns out, Victoria beer was one of the sponsors of Del Toro’s “At Home with my Monsters,” exhibition in Guadalajara, Mexico. The exhibit featured over 900 objects the Oscar-winning director used in the making of his films, such as costumes, notebooks, drawings and personal objects.

The exposition was on display at the University of Guadalajara Art Museum (MUSA) from June 1 to November 3 of this year, and we believe that perhaps this fact granted the beer maker, the liberties to run a whole collection of limited edition cans with the artist’s face and work emblazoned all over them — without expressly asking for his take on it, much less his permission.

The beer maker took to Twitter to “apologize”.

Victoria, by Grupo Modelo, tried and failed to contain this crisis by tweeting that “they would never take liberties with something like this,” when in fact, they did — smh. The company, however, did apologize and admitted to making a mistake:

“We would never take liberties with something like this, @RealGDT. We are reviewing where the wires got crossed. Apart from this, we will continue to support Mexican talent as we have done up to now,” tweeted the company.

But in another twist of events, the very next day, Victoria deleted all tweets, images and every single trace of the ‘Guillermo del Toro’ campaign from the company’s social media — including the half-assed apology tweet.

On Thursday of the same week, Del Toro tweeted out that things had been patched up between himself and the beer maker.

At the end of last week, the director announced that the beer company’s faux pas was a thing of the past, and that the two managed to find a solution: “The misunderstanding has been fixed in good will. The cans with my signature will be substituted by a new graphic project (with no profit for me) and the proceeds will be going to @CDMXOMM and @SOMEXICO_ Thank you,” he tweeted in Spanish.

The organizations mentioned in the critically acclaimed director’s tweet, work for causes he continually supports.

@CDMXOMM is Mexico City’s math olympics, an academic program that helps students and young people develop their creative math skills. @SOMexico_ or Special Olympics Mexico, is an organization that offers sports training and support for intellectually disabled athletes.

Del Toro has supported these causes in the past and continues to champion children’s academic needs.

When he’s not directing award-winning films or being celebrated at award shows, the director works closely with organizations, supporting students’ ambitions in math, animation and now, sports. Only this year, he offered a full scholarship to young Deborah Balboa for a Masters in Arts and Animation at the best university in Paris, France. Also this year, in March, he helped two students attend university to study film thanks to the Jenkins-Del Toro scholarship. He also paid for two students to attend a math world tournament in England, from his own pocket.

Our Tías’ Nacimientos Will Never Be The Same Since Mexico Has Outlawed Buying And Selling The Moss

Culture

Our Tías’ Nacimientos Will Never Be The Same Since Mexico Has Outlawed Buying And Selling The Moss

sony_a6000photos / Instagram / Pinterest

Growing up Mexican I looked forward to the Christmas season yes, tbh mostly because of presents but also because it was the time when mom and I got to go way overboard with our Nativity Scene decorations. If you’re Latino, putting up a nacimiento is just as essential a part of Christmas, as putting up a tree. If there’s one cliche that has proven to be true, time and again, it’s that Latino moms tend to be extra AF in everything they do. The representations of Jesus’s birth vary from minimal, to OTT baroque, to hyper-realistic. There’s one element that remains the most important aspect of the nacimiento across the board, in Mexico at least, the moss and other dense green clumps are usually used to adorn the decoration. So, what if we told you that buying and selling moss is actually illegal in Mexico?

Nacimiento, Pesebre, or Belen, are the names that different Latin American countries give to the traditional Nativity Scene representation under the Christmas tree.

Credit: Pinterest

The representation of Jesus’s birth, known as nacimiento in Mexico, pesebre in Colombia and other South American countries, or Belen in Spain, is a centuries-old tradition in the Catholic world. All you really need to tell the story are three basic figures: Virgin Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. But why limit yourself? 

You could make the case that the three wise men and the star that guided them to the newborn baby are also essential. Jesus was born in a stable because there was no place at the inns in Bethlehem, so naturally, there should be farm animals around, and hay, and moss —and why not a stream made of cellophane, while you’re at it? 

Nativity Scenes are usually elaborate, over the top extravaganzas that families work tirelessly on for the holiday season.

In Mexico and many other countries of Latin America, nacimientos can turn into elaborate extravaganzas, populated by all manner of animals and plants that you would never find side by side in the real world. Some scenes display pump-operated rivers with real water, others feature waterfalls and ponds. Some include whole cities built around the manger where Jesus was born. The creative license extends to the characters, which range from unrelated biblical figures such as Adam and Eve to random shepherds, farmers, and the devil. It’s clearly not an exercise in authenticity, but it’s festive and fun.

Part of the fun is the use of moss and other types of grass to add to the ‘look’. 

Credit: Pinterest

Moss is used to decorate the scene, but it also has a special symbolism. Spanish moss is of particular importance in the catholic representation of baby Jesus’s birth. A little patch of the gray grass is always placed underneath Satan —to highlight his presence and set him apart from the rest of the crowd. According to tradition, Satan should always be present in a nacimiento to remind us that although the birth of Jesus offers love and the possibility of redemption, sin and evil are always present in the world —and moss plays a big part in his representation.

As soon as November starts drawing to an end and December is around the corner, every mercado in Mexico is flooded by vendors who sell the coveted greenery of the season. 

Credit: @jjoel777 / Twitter

Every city and town has a market where, for about a month between the end of November and the first week in January, a large number of vendors offer items, especially for Christmas.  Some larger cities, like Mexico City, Guadalajara, Morelia, and others, offer several tianguis navideños (Christmas markets) where literally hundreds of vendors set up shop, to sell the infamous moss. 

But as it turns out, selling and/or buying moss is illegal.

Credit: losconfites_organicfarm / Instagram

This type of grass is essential for the survival of Mexican forests. The species is protected by the country, which makes its trade ilegal —and you might want to think twice before you buy it. 

Mosses are actually essential for the health and wellbeing of many ecosystems and all the organisms that inhabit them.

Credit: sony_a6000photos / Instagram

The term moss encompasses any of at least 12,000 species of small land plants. Mosses are distributed throughout the world except in saltwater and are commonly found in moist shady locations. They are best known as those species that carpet woodland and forest floors. Ecologically, mosses capture water and filter it to underground streams, or substrata, releasing nutrients for the use of more complex plants that succeed them. They also aid in soil erosion control by providing surface cover and absorbing water, and they are important in the nutrient and water economy of some vegetation types. Essentially, they are the pulse of forests and ecosystems everywhere.

Protection and conservation are relatively novel concepts in Mexican bryology, the branch of botany that studies mosses. 

Credit: @elbigdatamx / Twitter

Mexico is home to more than 900 recorded species of moss —and much of the country’s territory is yet to be explored thoroughly for more flora. However, local mosses face habitat destruction and over-harvesting as their major threat. 

In 1993, a diagnostic study of mosses that required protection Mexico was conducted, and supported by the federal government as well as other international agencies. At the time, six species were recognized as ‘rare’ or ‘endangered’ and were placed under official protection. 

The Secretariat of Environmental and Natural Resources of Mexico regulates the extraction and trade of moss. 

Credit: @iinfodeac / Twitter

In order to extract moss from its natural habitat, and furthermore, to commercialize it, vendors must follow strict requirements in order to attain a license. According to Mexican Forest Law 001 expedited by SEMARNAT (The Secretariat of Environmental and Natural Resources of Mexico), the extraction of moss is only permitted when the plant is in a mature state and ready for harvest, other conditions require that moss must be extracted in parcels of no more than 2 meters of width and that only 50 percent of each patch of moss may be extracted, etc. 

During this time of year, Mexican police are on high alert. 

Credit: @mimorelia / Twitter

Around the holiday season, police in Mexico double up on their patrolling. Authorities will be on high alert, inspecting those establishments who are authorized to sell moss and searching for those who aren’t. The Secretariat of Environmental and Natural Resources and the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection will be watching —so you might want to tell your mom and tias to avoid shopping for moss in Mexico this year.

READ: Check Out Some Of The Most Tiny And Adorable Nacimientos