Things That Matter

An Artist Set Up An Installation At The US-Mexico Border Allowing People To Communicate Freely

The President of the United States is still working on building the great big wall to divide Mexico from the U.S. Even though the wall has yet to be completed (and it looks like it never will actually be totally completed), the issue of the wall itself has already divided so many. The division is not just physical, but emotional, and, of course political. Believe it or not, there has been so much positivity that has also come with our painful division. Not only are people rising up to demand the rights of immigrants, and fighting for asylum seekers, but there’s also incredible art that has been erected in the name of justice

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is a Mexican-Canadian installation artist that has created a way for people to talk to each other on opposite sides of the border.

Lozano-Hemmer has built a massive light installation — both on U.S. land and Mexico land. The project, while complicated, appears to be several spotlights that project to one side of the border and then intersects with the spotlights from the other side. There are, as the website states, “three interactive stations on each side of the border will control powerful searchlight beams using a small dial wheel. When lights from any two stations are directed at each other, microphones and speakers automatically switch-on to allow participants to talk with one another, creating cross-border conversations.”

When one person speaks into the microphone, the person on the other side can hear and talk to them as well. People in El Paso, Texas, were able to communicate with those in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua.

On opening night, which happened on Nov. 13, a slew of special guests was invited to speak to people on the other side of the border. It wasn’t a natural result either. As the website states, “These conversations have been curated through a series of public meetings over the course of the past year and include a diverse cross-section of participants. Community leaders selected to coordinate various topics have committed to reaching out to their existing networks on both sides of the border for these topic-specific conversations in addition to the spontaneous conversations generated by the general public each night.”

While the light installation was only up for a few days and is now over, the result is one of the most magical things we have ever seen. 

In one clip, we see a woman speaking to a little boy. She asks him his name and how old he is, how he likes school, etc. It’s so hard to believe that the two people speaking are actually miles away from each other, with only a border that separates them. Their voices sound so loud and clear as if they were talking to each other face to face. 

“I’m not creating bridges of communication. Those bridges are already existing,” Lozano-Hemmer said in an interview, according to CBC News. “I’m just highlighting that they exist.” He added, “The computer modulates the bridge so that you can see that there is this kind of tangible aspect to our conversation that is very visible.” In the video above, former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke also took part in the installation and spoke to kids in Mexico.

Everyone obviously couldn’t experience this lovely installation in person, however, people on social media have been very moved by it.

One woman on Instagram said, “this made me sob, which is hard when you’ve had your breath taken away moments before. This is what art was created for, telling complex stories in a visually stunning manner, to help people understand. I believe in giving away our skills/free education. Imagine how stunning it would be to see the whole globe illuminated with Lights of Hope along every “border.” It’s possible. Give your blessing or blueprints to artist revolutionaries online, and let’s see how long it takes to light this rock up. #nobordersnonations #artisrevolution #makeartnotwar.” Another said, “Bless you. Bless your work. Bless your collaborative partners. I hope the children in our shameful American Detainment Camps for CHILDREN (those nearby) can see your Light. I pray that People crossing the border in the dark of the night see your Lights and it leads them Home. I Hope it soothes their souls and lets them know we have not forgotten them. America is and always will be a respite for the weary and down-trodden. We welcome ALL with open arms as WE would want to be welcomed in our most needy of times. I don’t care what negative people say, I believe in Hope, Righteousness, and the inherent Good in Everyone.”

READ: Kids On Both Sides Of The Border Wall Now Have Something Small To Smile About Thanks To An Artist Who Installed Seesaws

Indigenous Communities In Mexico Are Giving Traditional Clothes To Dogs To Help Them Stay Warm This Winter

Culture

Indigenous Communities In Mexico Are Giving Traditional Clothes To Dogs To Help Them Stay Warm This Winter

El Pueblito

Covering Mexican news in the past few years has become a difficult job, particularly if you love this amazing country but are also aware of the many socioeconomic problems, crime and overall struggle that the United States’ southern neighbour has faced in recent decades due to drug cartels, corrupt governments and pressure from global markets. So every once in a while our hearts receive an apapacho with stories that reveal how solidarity and plain old human awesomeness are also part of the Mexican psyche. And of course a touch of creativity also leads to memorable moments in which kindness, often among the most vulnerable sections of the population, shines even more. 

Look at this doggie, all warm in this traditional dress from Yucatan. But the story behind the cute photo will get you thinking.

Credit: Mexico News Daily

So the story goes like this: a street dog in the southern state of Yucatan was suffering from the dropping temperatures, shaking as its bones were visible in her super thin fur coat. The dog’s name is Polita and she was given a traditional dress called huipil by the artisans of the town of Ticul.

As reported by Mexico News Daily, a local resident posted a photo on Facebook and since then the image has gone viral. “So that she doesn’t suffer from the cold, the little dog with her huipil. It’s worth sharing and making her go viral”, read the caption in the now famous photo. Ticul is located around 100 km south of the state capital city of Mérida. The majority of the population is of Maya heritage. It is such a heartwarming photo, even more so if we consider how vulnerable indigenous Mexicans, such as the huipil-making saints, still are in contemporary Mexico. 

But you might now that there is actually a day in which some Catholic Mexicans get their pets dressed in all sorts of amazing traditional costumes.

Every January 17 Mexican Catholics celebrate San Antonio Abad, the patron saint of animals. And every year large numbers of the faithful take their pets to church to get a blessing from the local padrecito. But of course the occasion needs to be solemn, so owners get their pets dressed in what passes as haute couture, all for the sake of cuteness…. and faith. 

Some costumes are more traditional than others, but they are all dolled up!

We wonder that is going through their canine minds while being showered in holy water… 

And just look at those chicken dresses in the town of Taxco.

We love the Zoolander duck face on this chicken. It knows it got swag and it flaunts it! 

And for some there is never a lost opportunity to show their devotion for a soccer team.

We can just imagine this dude watching soccer on a Sunday afternoon and cheleando with his two chihuahuas on his lap, wearing those cute tiny jerseys. Ternuritas. 

Is that a rastafari dog in Guerrero?

This is actually like an animal cosplay contest celebrated on San Antonio Abad day in Guerrero, Mexico. We don’t know if a Jamaican rastafari costume qualifies as traditional in Mexico, but the little fur ball sure looks cute, right? And look at the elegant little black dog to the right, with his royal attire, all ready to rule the world. 

A little Mexican kitsch nunca viene de sobra

We love the sarape and the hat on this tiny fella. And that hat must sure cover him from the scalding Guerrero sun. 

Is this princesa peluda about to celebrate her XV?

OMG, just look at her, al regal and ready to dance a smooth waltz. And look, she has got a chambelan and everything. And look at the surprise in the faces of those passersby. 

Si Adelita se fuera con otro… 

We love this little model in the style of the Mexican Revolution and its legendary female fighters, called Adelitas or soldaderas. Fierceness and cuteness in a cute little package. This photo is also from one of the contests organized in the town of Taxco (by the way, this town is a must for anyone visiting the country). 

How on Earth did they get those tiny chicks in those dresses?

We just hope that the little ones are OK. The craft needed for that tiny church is just admirable. Wow.

US Marine Arrested For Smuggling Undocumented Immigrants

Things That Matter

US Marine Arrested For Smuggling Undocumented Immigrants

Unsplash

The U.S. military is going through a serious rough patch. Not only are they have issues recruiting new service members, but they’re also having problems retaining mental health workers, which is a really big deal because they help the people already inlisted. Now we’re seeing the ramifications of that.  Just this week a U.S. Navy sailor shot and killed two people at Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor military installation. The Navy sailor went on to kill himself. It all happened in the same week as the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which the celebration is supposed to take place this Saturday. The issues the military is facing is not combatting depression and other mental health problems within their units, but some ethical ones that go completely against what the country stands for. 

On December 2, U.S. marine was charged for smuggling undocumented people across the border near San Diego, California.

Credit: Unsplash

“On December 2, 2019, at approximately 1:30 a.m., a junior-enlisted Marine with Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division was taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel for allegedly bringing in undocumented immigrants at the San Ysidro port of entry,” the Marine Corps said in a statement, according to ABC News. “The Marine is currently being held in civilian custody. The determination as to the adjudicating authority has not yet been made.”

The 20-year-old Marine has not been publically named, but the news station adds that they were not part of the “Trump administration’s southwest border support mission.”

Credit: Unsplash

Additional reports say the Marine was pulled over in a 2007 Ford Mustang for “additional screening.” That is when border officials found two Chinese women in his trunk. 

“The Marine is currently being held in civilian custody,” Marine spokesman Lt. Cameron Edinburgh said in a statement to Fox News. “The determination as to the adjudicating authority has not yet been made.”

This latest charge comes on the heels of a slew of other military officials who have also arrested on similar smuggling charges.

Credit: Unsplash

Just this summer, 19 Marines were arrested for various offenses. ABC News reports that the Marines were allegedly involved “in activities ranging from human smuggling to drug-related offenses.” All of the Marines involved in this case were stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego. The number of marines involved in this case gradually increased from 16 to 19.

“1st Marine Division is committed to justice and the rule of law, and we will continue to fully cooperate with NCIS on this matter,” the statement said, according to the network. “Any Marines found to be in connection with these alleged activities will be questioned and handled accordingly with respect to due process.”

According to Stripes.com, the Marines were all arrested in front of their peers during their morning formation and that was done purposely to make an example out of them. 

“It was a public display for the entire unit to see,” 1st Marine Division Spokesman 1st Lt. Cameron Edinburgh told the online news site. 

As for the reason to not disclose the names of the Marines arrested, Marine Maj. Kendra Motz said that is because “Out of respect for the privacy of the implicated Marines,” and added, “we will not release names or other identifying information until charges are announced.” Six out of those marines arrested have already pleaded guilty to human trafficking and drug charges. 

In related news, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that detainments at the border continue to decrease.

Credit: Unsplash

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan said last month that in October, the trend of a decline of detainments at the border continues to show a decline. 

“The numbers show this administration has and continues to take bold action to address this crisis,” Morgan said, according to The Texan news. 

In May, however, it was a whole different story.  Back then, border officials said they saw 144,000 detainments in one month alone. From then until October, there has been a 70 percent. 

It’s certainly an odd predicament that the government and the military are facing because on the one hand detainments at the border are going down, which speaks positively of their security tactics. Yet, on the other hand, their own military workforce looks to be in quite the dilemma going against their own principals. 

READ: CBP Arrests A 16-Year-Old After Catching Them Using A Remote Control Car To Smuggling Drugs Across The Border