Things That Matter

El Chapo And Jeffrey Epstein Were This Latina Attorney’s First Clients And She Gets Hate Mail For It

Mariel Colón Miró was just four months out of law school, waiting for New York State bar exam results at the ripe age of 26 years old when she was scrolling through Craigslist looking for jobs. She stumbled upon a New York firm that was looking for a bilingual paralegal and went for it. It wasn’t until she got the job that she asked who her client was.

Later, in an interview, she confessed that the name Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera sounded familiar, but it was her trusty friend, Google, that gave her the full scoop. The Puerto Rican recalls “googling who this person was and I’m like, holy shit!” It was El Chapo.

Colón Miró just sort of “clicked” with El Chapo in person.

Credit: marielcolonmiroesq / Instagram

The first time she met him, she was supposed to go with her boss, but they left their ID on the subway and couldn’t gain access to the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) that detains El Chapo. So Colón Miró went by herself. She sat across from him and said hello. El Chapo put his hand up against the glass, and she put hers up against his. They talked for three hours about their Latinidad and politics. “He is a very likable person,” she told New York. “It was like a click. This is meant to be my job. I felt very comfortable.”

She turned down a job at the Legal Aid Society after El Chapo asked her to join his defense team as a trial attorney.

Credit: marielcolonmiroesq / Instagram

She had been visiting him nearly every day at MCC for months, going through the defense team’s strategy, every piece of discovery, and practicing for cross-examination. Senior attorney Jeffrey Lichtman cites Colón Miró as the only reason El Chapo trusted his defense team. “Chapo, not being American and familiar with our justice system, didn’t trust everyone who worked on the case. But he always trusted her,” Lichtman says.

Colón Miró sympathizes with El Chapo, who was kept in solitary confinement 24/7 and only allowed to speak with Colón Miró herself.

Credit: marielcolonmiroesq / Instagram

He was forbidden from speaking to his wife and was only allowed one hour of television a day. Given his two prison breaks during outdoor time, he’s also been denied requests to go outside. “MCC is a very inhumane place, especially if you’re in the solitary housing unit,” Colón Miró told New York Magazine. “It is not a sanitary place. You can see rats walking around. It is nasty. Other clients have told me there’s mold on the water faucets, the AC is never clean. You can actually see the dust and mold.”

Today, she’s even helping El Chapo’s wife with her fashion line, which glorifies El Chapo himself.

Credit: marielcolonmiroesq / Instagram

“El Chapo Guzmaán: JGL” will sell glow-in-the-dark cell phone cases featuring El Chapo’s signature, alongside hoodies and T-shirts. On top of that, she’s working on El Chapo’s appeal case, citing the effects of the supermax prison in which he resides, often known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” He’s allowed outdoor time now, but Colón Miró feels he’s been dehumanized. “I noticed he was sad. Completely different. His demeanor, his eyes. Even his hair — they shaved his head. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been convicted of the most heinous crimes or horrible crimes, I don’t think that anybody deserves to be treated that way.”

Colón Miró grew up in Puerto Rico and studied music business at Loyola University in New Orleans.

Credit: marielcolonmiroesq / Instagram

She eventually enrolled in law school on the island and later transferred to Hofstra. Today, she sings in the Hillsong church choir, and tells New York that she sleeps “with a clear conscience.” For Colón Miró, her job is knowing that “we are all sinners. Some of us are sinners that happened to break the law.”

Colón Miró’s second client was Jeffrey Epstein before he committed suicide.

Credit: marielcolonmiroesq / Instagram

Her clientele list has caused an onslaught of hate mail for Colón Miró who ask her how she’s able to represent convicted killers and sex offenders. “If you have a moral dilemma with that, then this profession is not for you. It’s easy to lose that human perspective in this profession. You think that detaching makes it easier to do your job, but it makes it harder for your client. You can’t ever lose that perspective, that empathy, that caring for them. I don’t ever want to lose it. I think that’s what distinguishes me,” she told New York Magazine.

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A Human Rights Attorney Is Being Accused Of Falsely Posing As A Latina During Her Career

Culture

A Human Rights Attorney Is Being Accused Of Falsely Posing As A Latina During Her Career

¡Voice Latina! / YouTube

Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan is the outgoing president of the National Lawyers Guild and her departure has taken a sudden turn. After years as an attorney, many are now accusing the attorney of posing as a Latina.

Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan is facing mounting scrutiny and backlash for her claims that she is Latina.

According to a post on Prism, Bannan has a history of claiming her Latinidad. The post points out several interviews the attorney has given over the years with different publications where she explicitly claims that she is part of the Latino community. In one YouTube video with ¡Voice Latina!, Bannan explicitly says that “as a woman, as an individual, as a Latina” she is inspired to do the work she does because of her hero Oscar López Rivera.

People are calling on others to do better about who they choose to represent various communities.

Representation matters, especially when it comes to the issues that are facing our various communities. It is important to make sure that the representation reflects those being represented. According to Prism, Bannan has been pushing a narrative that she is of Puerto Rican and Colombian heritage for over a decade. She has even spoken out as a Puerto Rican woman that is fighting for the island’s statehood.

There are multiple media moments when Bannan claimed Latino heritage, according to reports.

Prism points to an interview conducted in 2007 where she allegedly told “El Diario” that her heritage was “a little bit Spanish, a little bit Colombian, and a Sephardic Jew.”

“I am racially white, and have always said that. However my cultural identity was formed as a result of my family, both chosen and chosen for me, and that has always been Latinx,” Bannan wrote on Facebook Monday following the story. “My identity is my most authentic expression of who I am and how I pay honor to the people who have formed me since I was a child.”

The story is garnering so much attention because of Hilaria Baldwin and her claims of being Spanish.

Baldwin misled people into believing that she was of Spanish descent when she was a white woman born in Boston. Prism was able to decipher that Bannan is a white woman born in Georgia whose family immigrated from Ireland, Italy, and Russia.

READ: Why Do People Care If Hilaria Baldwin’s Spanish Accent Is Fake Or Not, Anyway?

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Ricky Martin Opens Up On Being A Queer Latino And Talks New Music In Powerful New Interview

Entertainment

Ricky Martin Opens Up On Being A Queer Latino And Talks New Music In Powerful New Interview

Mike Windler / Getty Images

Ricky Martin has long been an international superstar – even long before ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ took over virtually every airway in the world. But it’s hard to deny that with that song, the Puerto Rican singer entered the global mainstream and ever since he’s been a pop icon.

From being one of the first major pop stars to publicly come out as gay, to acting in popular TV series, and getting married and becoming a father of four, Ricky Martin has always been a very busy man.

And despite a global pandemic that has forced all of us to stay at home and find a ‘new normal,’ Martin has forged a path forward. He recently sat down for an interview with Billboard to discuss everything from new music, the global Coronavirus pandemic, and his identity as an out and proud gay Latino.

Considering we’re all still living amid a global pandemic, the Billboard interview started on this very relevant topic.

Billboard points out that Martin and his family live in a very big and beautiful house in Beverly Hills, which likely makes staying at home a bit easier compared to the rest of us. However, Martin points out that he has a very loud home – with four kids and his mom all living under one roof. But he admits, “…I am very lucky. I am in a comfortable home where my kids can play.”

Ricky Martin is also working on new music. He released Pausa in May, and now as he works on new music the world is a very different place. He told Billboard: “I started working on my music maybe nine months ago. In my mind, the album was going to be called Movimiento, which means movement. But with all this [pandemic], it just told me… “The way it was, was not working. Let’s do it differently.” I have music with rhythm, but I was not going to tell people to move! So I named it Pausa.”

He also speaks about his close relationship with fellow Puerto Rican, El Conejo Malo.

Shortly after Billboard released its history-making cover with Bad Bunny on the the cover, Martin described San Benito as a “Latin queer icon.” Many people – of all backgrounds – took issue with that. But Ricky Martin tells Billboard that “allies are so important. Without them, our fight for equality is impossible. It really tickles me to see Bad Bunny as a gay icon — just like Cher could be. Why not?”

The Puerto Rican singer shared what his coming out experience was like and reveals he never tires of sharing it.

In the interview, Martin is very open about his coming out as gay. The singer came out as gay in 2010, married husband Jwan Yosef in 2017, and together the couple is raising four children.

Rolling Stone asked Martin, 48, what it was like to remain closeted during “the most public, exposed period” of his life.

“I had moments of extreme positivity, and not so positive [moments],” Martin answered. “Life was a bit on steroids in those days. Everything was really intense, but I could take it! I come from a school of military discipline when it comes to training for music, dance, and acting. I started when I was 12. So for me, it was about not being ready to open [up]. When you open an egg from the outside, what comes out is death. But when the egg opens from the inside, what comes out is life. It’s something that needs to come from within. Every time someone forces someone to come out, what you’re doing is you’re destroying the natural flow of the self-discovery.”

When asked what motivated him to come out publicly, Martin said that a kid somewhere in America needs to see positive headlines about coming out.

“Today I woke up to this beautiful headline that I know someone out there is in need of. The headline was something like, ‘I came out. And ever since I’ve been the happiest.’ Something like that, something… My heart is beating faster because I know today a kid somewhere in America woke up needing to hear those words. A lot of people say they get tired of talking about the same thing. Why would I? Are you kidding me? For so many years I had to keep it inside. And then the effect of someone… What people are getting from it in their healing process?”

Billboard also asked Martin his feelings on how the media is profiting and accepting Puerto Rican and Latinx culture.

When asked if he feels that the American media has gotten better or more open to understanding Puerto Rican culture, Martin responded: “We certainly have a long way to go, but the important thing is that we see that there’s an audience that is interested. And it’s up to us to bring [the] education.”

And he’s absolutely right. This year has seen several Latino artists rise to the top of all sorts of charts. Bad Bunny and J Balvin are among the most streamed artists globally and Bad Bunny is one of the most streamed artists on YouTube as well.

Meanwhile, Maluma and Jennifer Lopez are working on a film that will be out early next year. The Emmy’s, VMAs, and other award shows finally had decent representation of artists of color – particularly among the Latinx community.

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