Things That Matter

A 20-Year-Old Slips And Drowns On A Party Boat In A Mexico City Canal

There is heartbreaking news out of the town of Xochimilco in Mexico City where a young man fell off a party boat on Sunday and drowned. Local authorities found the body of José Manuel Romero Reyes, 20, the next day after several hours of searching for the body. According to police, Romero Reyes was partying with some friends for a birthday party on Sunday along the famous and very popular San Cristóbal canal near the Zacapa jetty. The area is a popular tourist attraction as it was originally configured by the ancient Aztecs.

The story went viral on social media as a person captured the exact moment that Romero Reyes fell into the canal. The footage shows a vibrant scene of young people partying in the San Cristóbal canal.

Grainy cell phone footage, captured by a person at the party, shows the moment Romero Reyes, wearing a white t-shirt and fedora hat, fell into the canal. In the video, you can see the young man trying to hop from one boat to another. Another male friend is seen moving from the gondola-like boats as Romero Reyes followed him but didn’t have enough footing and ultimately fell into the dark brown waters. It would take a few seconds for anyone to notice that he was drowning in the water until he suddenly couldn’t be seen due to the dark murky water. 

Within moments, the boat party comes to a halt as people start to realize that someone is drowning. Video shows a frantic scene as multiple people begin reaching into the ancient canal with long wooden sticks attempting to find and save Romero Reyes. Friends began throwing ropes into the canal but there was no sign of him after he fell into the water during the video. 

Now many are looking for answers as to how this young man could have just suddenly drowned with so many people nearby. As of now, police have yet to determine if alcohol was the main factor behind the drowning.

Credit: @retodiariomx / Twitter

According to the local authorities, dozens of beer bottles and other intoxicating drinks, including at least 30 beer cans and multiple empty bottles of rum and whiskey, were found aboard the boats where these young people were partying. Police say there was a heavy presence of alcohol at the scene but have yet to determine if it was a contributing factor to Romero Reyes’s death. 

Local television news in Mexico highlighted the search for Romero Reyes’s body along the canal as authorities stepped up efforts to locate him. A police search team would eventually find Romero Reyes’ body on early Monday morning at approximately 6 a.m.  

The untimely death of the young man has already prompted local officials to make some changes to prevent this accident from ever happening again. According to the Daily Mail,  Xochimilco mayor Juan Carlos Acosta Ruíz made some announcements concerning the safety of people along the historic canals. Starting on Oct. 1, visitors on the canals who board the gondolas will be required to wear a life jacket to ensure their safety on the water. If a person chooses not to wear one, they will then be required to sign a waiver form.

Mayor Ruíz has also made some new adjustments to alcohol laws while on the gondolas. Customers will now be limited to bring only three beers and a liter of liquor when boarding the boats. But when it comes to Micheladas, the popular drink made up of beer and tomato juice, it will now be banned on the canals.  

Friends and family are now reflecting and remembering the life of Romero Reyes as he is laid to rest. 

Credit: @jcarlos-valerio / Twitter

Romero Reyes is currently being veiled in the town of Santa María Nenetzintla, belonging to the municipality of Acajete. His body arrived at the small town just a day after his body was found. Family and friends are now gathering to say their farewells and remembering a life that was tragically taken away way too soon.  

There is expected to an open mass on Wednesday morning where his body will be presented at a local church. His body will then be transferred to a cemetery where it will be buried. Our thoughts and prayers are currently with the family and friends of Romero Reyes. 

READ: Cartels Are Targeting Migrants Forced To Stay In Mexico Under Trump’s ‘Remain In Mexico’ Policy

A Mexican Drag Queen Dressed Up As La Virgencita And Social Media Caught Fire

Things That Matter

A Mexican Drag Queen Dressed Up As La Virgencita And Social Media Caught Fire

Margaretyya / Instagram

La Virgen de Guadalupe is perhaps the most venerated figure in Mexico. Regardless of religious beliefs, la Guadalupana has become a cultural and national symbol, as it contrasts with the predominantly white images of saints and other religious figures (although if we talk about historical accuracy, chances are that Jesus and his disciples looked mostly Brown, as Middle-Eastern folk).

La Guadalupana is Brown-skinned and symbolizes the mixed-nature of Mexican mestizo culture. On one hand, the Guadalupana is derived from Catholicism, on the other it also echoes Aztec deities such as the goddess Tonantzin Coatlicue, which anthropologists believe the culture around La Virgen de Guadalupe echoes.

Truth is that Mexico is a country that venerates the Virgen de Guadalupe perhaps above all things, in particular each December 12, when millions of worshipers travel from all around the country to venerate her at the Basilica of Guadalupe, the place where Juan Diego, an indigenous man, claims to have encountered her. 

So it came as a shock to some that a drag queen from Mexico City dressed up as La Virgen de Guadalupe.

Credit: margaretyya/ Instagram

Her stage name is Margaret y Ya and she has caused controversy with this very artistic picture that reminds us of the work of Italian photographer Mario Testino. In the image, we can see Margaret y Ya posing with shopping bags.

In the photo shared on her Instagram, she writes an ironic caption: “Bendita seas Santa Virgencita Claus 🙏🏼✨ que nos llegaste a evangelizar con consumismo y materialismo estas épocas. 🎄❄️ 📸” This roughly translates as: “Bless you Santa Virgencita Claus, you that brought consumerism and materialism to this time of the year”.

This is more a political and social commentary rather than a religious one, as December 12 has become the kick off of the end of year holidays and its many weeks of frantic shopping. The photo was taken by Mario Aragon and the composition highlights irony. Margaret y Ya told El Universal that her idea was to critique the ways in which religion often becomes a commodity. This is perhaps a slightly blunt way of doing it given Mexico’s sociocultural context, but hey, sometimes the only way of getting people’s attention is being over the top and fabulous. 

And as can be expected, some conservative minds (and many abuelitas, we are sure) pusieron el grito en el cielo, while others just chilled.

We mean, this photograph was meme-ready even from its inception, wasn’t it? So it came as no surprise that some in Twitter used it to expand on the “I’m gonna tell my kids this is…” meme universe!

But it is also clear that Margaret y ya had a very clear audience in mind.

Yes, she wanted to make men and boomers angry, which is exactly what she did! And isn’t art supposed to be provocative in order to make us think, really think about preconceived notions we might need to reconsider?

The question is tough but philosophically interesting: how much of religion is associated with buying and selling stuff? The image was part of Margaret y Ya’s 2018 calendar, but as it resurfaced it got more attention than ever before. 

And some dudes got really angry…

Credit: Valladolid Yucatan Pueblo Magico / Facebook

These two dudes are basically saying that no one messes with La Virgencita and that a sacred symbol should not be tainted. Man, take a chill pill. Comments on the original story at El Universal reveal a deep contrast between those users who yell blasphemy at the first chance, and those who can find a bit of nuance in artistic expression. 

But when it comes to Catholic countries such as Mexico, mixing popular culture and religion with art is prone to cause a lot of controversy. Madonna was almost banned from the country for the “Like a Prayer” video.

A Christ-like figure who was black! That was considered blasphemy at the time, as was the fact that Madonna looked at him lovingly. Seriously, this was a BFD a few decades ago, and for years las buenas costumbres in Mexico dictated that the singer was a persona non grata.

Other works of art, such as Martin Scorsese’s monumental film “The Last Temptation of Christ”, have also been banned and considered blasphemy, as they are interpretations of texts that are considered dogma (infallible truths), and as interpretations they might differ from what the Church says.

This is something similar to the mild scandal involving Margaret y Ya, as she took a longstanding symbol and used it to critique a capitalist way of living that perhaps takes those religiously inclined away from their faith. Although we suspect that in this case some old fashioned homophobia also came into the equation.

A Chilean Military Plane With 38 People On Board Crashed While On The Way To A Base In Antarctica

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A Chilean Military Plane With 38 People On Board Crashed While On The Way To A Base In Antarctica

sebastianpinerae / aero.commander / Instagram

The search is on for clues after a Chilean military plane with 38 people on board crashed on its way to Antarctica on Monday afternoon. The plane, a Hercules C-130 transport, made the last contact at 6:13 p.m. which was around an hour and five minutes after it initially took off. It was 390 miles into its journey to the Base Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva, a Chilean base on in the northern region of the frozen continent, according to a statement issued by the Chilean Air Force. Seven hours after the plane last made contact, the Chilean air force declared it lost, with no definitive reason as to why it had disappeared. 

According to the New York Times, the aircraft was carrying 17 crew members and 21 passengers, which included a university student and two Chilean civilians who worked for an engineering and construction firm that was contracted to do maintenance work on the Antarctic base.

“The chances are difficult but I think it would be profoundly wrong to lose heart at this moment when we are doing everything humanly possible and with all our energy and determination,” Defence Minister Alberto Espina told reporters. “The air force has provided a thorough investigation to clarify the facts with complete transparency.”

The Chilean military has deployed fighter jets in an expansion of its search. Uruguayan and Argentine air forces have also joined in on efforts.

Chilean officials are now conducting an all-out search for the plane and any clues that might lead them to why the military aircraft might have crashed. Officials said that the plane had taken off in favorable conditions Monday afternoon from the southern city of Punta Arenas, though the area is known for rapidly changing conditions that include freezing temperatures and chilly winds. According to a BBC report, Air Force General Eduardo Mosqueira told the local press that the plane didn’t activate its emergency signal and proposed the idea that the pilot might have tried to land on the frigid waters. 

The Chilean military is now in the midst of search and rescue efforts that include four ships and 10 planes. Joining this mission are the Uruguayan and Argentine air forces, who have each contributed a C-130 plane to help. The United States has also lent a hand by providing two satellite orbits to capture images over the South Pacific Ocean.

The plane is said to have crashed in Drake’s Passage, the sea in the middle of the southern tip of South America and Antarctica, which is known for its severe weather conditions. The area has been known to produce freezing temperatures and harsh storms that have caused other aircrafts to avoid flying through during these conditions. 

“The plane is presumed to have crashed, given that the amount of fuel and the plane’s autonomy had already run out,” said Chilean Air Force General Francisco Torres in a press conference, according to CNN.

South American leaders, including Chilean President Sebastian Piñera, have all expressed their condolences to those lost on the plane and their loved ones. 

This tragedy has prompted an immediate response from Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, who canceled a trip to Argentina, where he was expected to attend the swearing-in ceremony of President-elect Alberto Fernandez. Instead, Piñera headed to the Cerrillos airbase in Santiago, Chile where he joined rescue operations and families of the plane’s passengers gathered. He reiterated the message that the Chilean government would spare no effort to find the plane.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the 38 crew members and passengers of the FACh (Air Force) C-130 plane,” Piñera wrote on Twitter. “With the help of many we are making every effort humanly possible in the search operation for the plane.”

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro also tweeted words of support saying that his government is doing all that is possible to help with search efforts. “We offer Chile support for the search and rescue operations of the Chilean plane, which disappeared in the Drake Strait with 38 people on board. We have already spoken to President Piñera and ask God that all those involved will be successful in the rescue.”

The plane crash comes at a difficult time for Chile and President Piñera, who has overseen a country displeased with socioeconomic disparity, vast systemic corruption, and other government abuses. All of this has led to almost two months of riots in the capital city of Santiago. 

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