Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has signed a new law designed to help efforts in finding thousands of missing people. The law, signed on Thursday, will add 469 million pesos ($25 million) to assist in search efforts, reports Reuters. According to the National Human Rights Commission, more than 30,000 people have gone missing in Mexico over the last 50 years. More than 100,000 have died in Mexico’s violent drug war, reports Reuters.
Mass graves have become a common occurrence in Mexico in recent years. Authorities are often unable to identify the remains found in the graves, leaving families of the missing in the dark. The law will create a new database to collect forensic information relevant in the cases of the missing people. There are also new rules about the exhumation of victims. Special prosecutors will be appointed to handle missing persons cases.
“The disappearance of people is one of the greatest challenges facing our human rights and one of the most painful experiences anyone can suffer,” Peña Nieto told the press during the signing ceremony, according to Reuters.
Discussions surrounding the epidemic of missing people in Mexico reached international consciousness when 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College went missing from Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico in 2014. The Mexican government’s investigation, which put the blame on municipal police and a local drug gang, was put into question when several holes were found in the “official” story. Families of the students have been demanding answers from Peña Nieto and the Mexican government about their missing loved ones.
Mexico is still recovering from two devastating earthquakes the killed hundreds in September. Despite the recovery effort, Mexican officials have stated that there is enough money and support to implement the program. Reuters reports that the law will go into effect in 60 days.
Much has been said about the vulnerable position that indigenous populations in general, and indigenous women in particular, are in when it comes to protecting the intellectual property derived from their traditional designs.
The Mexican Congress recently passed a law through which companies that steal designs from indigenous communities will be subject to hefty fines. The culprits are generally big international brands such as Zara and Carolina Herrera, which should know better when it comes to presenting designs as their own when they are clearly very “heavily inspired” by the work of craftspeople who earn a small fraction of what they should, only to see their designs being sold in hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
So it comes as a welcome surprise to find out some indigenous Mayan women have gotten together to profit from their millenary wisdom and dexterous hands to launch a startup that promises to become a way of living for many of them.
An entrepreneur, una jefa de jefas, named Nancy Zavala launched a small company, Zavy, that employs Mayan women.
The company’s mission is to help women achieve financial independence through their work. Zavala knows that the key in a small company is specialization and they have focused on a particular product: camera straps. So far 20 women have joined Zavy. As Zavala told El Universal, these women feel a sense of accomplishment as their children see them work and their husbands, who previously “did not allow them” to do so, now also want to help. Women from other Mayan communities have approached Zavala, wanting to join in.
This is a great step for many Mayan women who not only live in an environment with very clearly and strictly demarcated gender roles, but are also part of an indigenous group in Mexico that has historically been discriminated against. Zavala put her heart, soul and money in this enterprise: the first straps were produced entirely with her savings.
Their camera straps are garnering attention among semi professional and professional circles.
The craftswomen receive 50% of the profits and the rest is reinvested in the company to buy materials and strengthen their web presence. They have been able to sell to Mexico. the United States and some Latin American countries. These camera straps are seriously cool and we can see any professional photojournalist use them…. Pero por supuesto.
We did a search on Etsy and found that plenty of pages not run my Mayans are selling “Mayan camera straps.” They either copy the design or “repurpose” other artefacts such as belts or clothing with traditional Mayan embroidery. This is like adding insult to injury: they are reselling objects that took hours for someone to make and sell for a fraction of what these repurposed straps sell on Etsy. This is why initiatives such as Zavala’s are so important.
Nancy founded Zavy to honor her Mayan heritage.
Nancy was born in the small community of Saye and she grew up watching her grandmother make blouses, shirts and other products in the traditional Mayan style. But she knew that in order to achieve financial independence she had to study. And so she went to university and became one of the members of the 1% of indigenous Mexicans who finish a graduate degree. She got a Bachelors in Project Development, a huge achievement in and of itself. But her journey did not end there and she wanted to inspire other women and get them to be independent as well. And so Zavy was born.
Nancy is 28 years old now and she is doing her Master’s degree in Merida, the capital of her home state of Yucatan. We are sure she will keep using her knowledge to empower indigenous women.
And Zany is just one among other initiatives that aim to help Mayan communities.
With some classmates, Nancy established a foundation that helps communities develop through applying their traditional knowledge into businesses. In addition to Zany, Nancy and her friends helped Mayan communities establish Biozano, a company that produces natural, organic makeup.
Some of the women had to drastically change their careers due to unfortunate accidents.
Such is the case of Cecilia Dzul Tuyb, who used to be a police officer before a car crash prevented her from walking for several months. She was risking depression but found solace in traditional knitting. She was contacted by Nancy Zavala and the rest, as they say, is history: Cecilia has found a community of fellow women who do not want to depend economically on anyone else and who value their independence.
It’s official, the Steelers will have their international game this year, but the place is not yet confirmed. Previous exhibition games were held in Montreal, Barcelona, London, and Tokyo. It’s been years since the team competed directly south of the border. And since Mexico is the home to one of largest fan bases of the Pittsburgh Steelers, they want to play their international game against the Jacksonville Jaguars south of the border
This time, the Pittsburgh Steelers are looking forward to playing in Mexico.
The Steelers are happy to play an international game, but they have a clear preference for where that game would be. The president of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Art Rooney, said, “We continue to raise our hand and say we’re interested in playing a game in Mexico.”
The Steelers are expected to have an international game this year like they have in previous years.
One of them is their match against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Meanwhile, it has been rumored that the Jaguars will have a game in London sometime this year.
People are already showing their excitement on social media because who doesn’t want to see the Steelers playing in Mexico.
“I need the best seat for the event of the year” tweeted one user. “I’ll sell my soul to be there,” wrote another die-hard fan.
Mexico is home to a large portion of the Steeler Nation.
Steeler Nation, as their fans call themselves, proudly wear black and gold in Mexico. Fernando Camacho, a Mexican fan shared this saying in Spanish in an interview with ‘Behind the Steel curtain’, “Mi Corazon y mi alma son Amarillo y negro pero mi pasion y mi orgullo son de acero.” (My heart and soul are Black and Gold, but my passion and pride are made of steel.)
So naturally, the team’s first choice for an international game is to play in Mexico.
Rooney added during an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that, “They have to work out the logistics and all the pieces of the puzzle to have a game down there. Our first choice would be to play a game in Mexico if we have an international trip.”
The Steelers have a history with Mexico that runs deep.
The Steelers played the Vikings in London in 2013, but have a longer history with Mexico. They played an exhibition game there in 2000, and have conducted clinics there in the past to try to drum up interest. They’ve also played in exhibition games in Toronto, Montreal, Barcelona, Tokyo, and Dublin. Rooney said that they prefer to have it in Mexico where they have a large number of fans. Mexico is also a neutral ground for both teams.