Things That Matter

Mexico’s Oaxaca Becomes The First State to Decriminalize Abortion In A Truly Historic Vote

The Mexican state of Oaxaca has legalized abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy. The Oaxaca Congress voted to approve a bill that would legalize the procedure. The stunning decision was colored by protests from both anti-abortion and pro-choice activists who wore green scarves in solidarity. 

This is big news as it is only the second region in the country, after Mexico City (which legalized the procedure in 2007) to do so. The historic moment demonstrates that attitudes are changing and evolving in the largely Roman Catholic country thanks to pro-choice advocates and activists. 

Mexico’s Oaxaca State Legalizes Abortion

The Congress voted 24 in favor, 10 against to legalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy, which is also the general standard in most of the United States.

“We find no negative reasons to disapprove the verdict. There can be moral reasons, but it is urgent to legislate to hinder violence against women,” said Elisa Zepeda Laguna, a legislator of the Morena party and president of the Commission of Justice Pursuit and Administration. 

While President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has avoided taking a clear stance on abortion, the legislation’s passage, comes days after Lopez Obrador said he would grant amnesty to women serving jail terms for abortion. The local Congress which approved the bill is largely dominated by Lopez Obrador’s leftist National Regeneration Movement. 

Mexico’s abortion laws

With the exceptions of the two regions now, abortion is only legal in Mexico in special circumstances. Moreover, those who do have abortions face criminal penalties. The law is extremely sexist and transphobic, it assumes anyone who gets pregnant is a woman, then presumably seeks to slut-shame the hypothetical woman for getting pregnant in the first place.

A person who procures an illegal abortion can be imprisoned for 6 months to 2 years provided they meet these three misogynist criteria: the woman doesn’t have a “bad reputation” (whatever that means), she has been able to conceal her pregnancy, and that the pregnancy was born of an illegitimate relationship. If even one of these criteria is not met, the person faces a higher penalty of one to five years in prison. 

But it’s not just recipients of abortions who face strict laws. Abortion providers can face one to six years in prison. The only exceptions are in cases of rape, pregnancies that put the mother’s health or life at risk, and in the case of serious genetic disorders. 

Abortion is about public health and social justice

Laguna notes that decriminalizing abortion is a broad social issue because it is largely poor and indigenous women who do not have legal access to the procedure. 

“In Oaxaca, abortion is the third cause of maternal death,” said congresswoman Magaly Lopez Dominguez. “No one is in favor of abortion, but of saving the lives of women that have to take that decision.”

Abortions are not only expensive but when women cannot have free and safe access to them, they often attempt to induce one themselves. These attempts often fail, comprising the health of the mother — which will only result in more expensive healthcare costs. Alternatively, women are forced to bear children they cannot afford to raise further trapping them — and their children — in a vicious cycle of poverty. 

You can never really ban abortion

Illegalizing abortions does not stop abortions from happening, it only makes them dangerous for the mother and clogs the legal system. The National Abortion Federation reports that abortion rates in Mexico, though illegal, are much higher than that of the United States. 

“These findings confirm research from other parts of the world – that making abortion illegal does not significantly decrease its frequency, it just makes it unsafe and puts women’s lives at risk,” said Fatima Juarez, lead author of the study.

In 2006, the abortion rate was 40% higher than in the U.S. and this was before it had been legalized anywhere in the country. 

“In Oaxaca a year more than 9,000 women undergo an abortion and according to the latest data, 17 percent are indigenous women under 20,” Natalia Torres, a legal representative of the activist group March 8, told Al Jazeera.

 Between 2013 and 2016, 20 people were sentenced to prison in the region for receiving abortions. 

“In four years, at least 2,184 investigations have been opened for abortion in Mexico. According to official numbers, there are at least 500 cases each year; in January 2018, there were 49 cases registered,” reports El Universal.

Abortion is not controversial 

Abortion is not complicated. Free and safe access to abortion is a human right, as all humans have the right to self-determination, it combats poverty cycles, and keeps the most vulnerable women out of the prison system, saving everyone else tax dollars. 

As the United States moves backward on abortion rights, it is all the more inspiring to see Mexico move forward. 

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This Indigenous Village In Mexico Trains Their Children As Soldiers To Combat Gang Violence

Things That Matter

This Indigenous Village In Mexico Trains Their Children As Soldiers To Combat Gang Violence

via Getty Images

In the town of Ayahualtempa, Mexico, in the state of Guerrero, reporters see a shocking image whenever they visit. Children armed with guns, trained to defend themselves. The disturbing scene is meant to be shocking. The village of Ayahualtempa is under constant attack. A prominent heroin “corridor”, they are the victims of violence and carnage at the hands of gangsters and the cartel.

In order to gain the Mexican government’s attention, the Ayahualtempa villagers dress their children up as soldiers. Then, they invite the media in.

Ayahualtempa
via Getty Images

When reporters arrive, the children of Ayahualtempa dutifully line up and put on a performance. They march, they show how they would shoot a gun from one knee, or from flat on their bellies. They tell reporters that their mock-violent performance is “so the president sees us and helps us,” as a 12-year-old child named Valentín told the Associated Press.

Because the Mexican government doesn’t protect Ayahualtempa, the display of child soldiers is a form of protest for the small indigenous village. The people of this remote region of Guerrero want protection from the National Guard, and financial help for widows and orphans who have been made so from organized crime.

The villagers don’t trust local authorities, and for good reason. Guerrera is the Mexican state in which 43 teaching students were abducted and killed in an event that is known as the “Iguala mass kidnapping”. Authorities arrested 80 suspects in connection to the event. 44 of them were police officers, working in conjunction with a network of cartels.

Although the demonstrations function largely as a publicity stunt, violence is very much a part of these children’s lives.

via Getty Images

Parents train their children to walk to school with loaded guns, ready to defend themselves against violent gangsters.

The attention-grabbing antics have, to some extent, worked. On one occasion, the government donated some housing material. On another, benefactors gave the community’s orphans and widows scholarships and houses. But as soon as the periodic media storms die down, the federal government continues pretending Ayahualtempa doesn’t exist.

The hypocrisy of the government’s response is frustrating to many. “We’ve normalized that these children don’t eat, are illiterate, are farm workers. We’re used to the Indians dying young, but, ‘How dare they arm them!’” said local human rights activist Abel Barrera to the AP, with a heavy dose of sarcasm.

As for now, until the government moves to protect the community, they say they will continue their demonstrations. “They see that the issue of the children is effective for making people take notice and they think: If that’s what works, we’ll have to keep doing it,” said Barrera.

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Spanish Voiceover Actress For Jessie From Pokémon Dies And Fans Mourn

Entertainment

Spanish Voiceover Actress For Jessie From Pokémon Dies And Fans Mourn

Pokémon fans in Latin America are mourning the death of Diana Pérez, the Spanish-language voice of Jessie of Pokémon’s Team Rocket. The voice actress has been voicing the character since 1997.

Diana Pérez, the voice actress of Team Rocket’s Jessie, died at 51.

Lalo Garza, a famed voice actor in Mexico, confirmed the death of the Pokémon voice actress.

“Rest in peace Diana Pérez, a strong, cultured, intelligent, and very talented woman. You are good now, friend. Nothing hurts anymore. Have a good trip,” reads the tweet.

Pérez has been a staple in the Spanish-language Pokémon fandom for decades.

Pérez was more than just he voice of Jessie. The voice actress was the voice of multiple anime characters including Luffy in One Piece and Kagura in Inuyasha. In recent years, Pérez had started branching out to directing, producing, and other branches in the entertainment industry.

Pérez’s death is being mourned by Pokémon fans outside of the Spanish-language fandom.

Sarah Natochenny is the English voice of Ash Ketchum in the Pokémon series, Jessie’s mortal enemy. The death of Pérez has impacted the larger Pokémon community. Pérez was a pivotal part of the Latin American Pokémon community for decades and her loss has devastated fans.

Descansa en paz, Diana.

There have been no plans announced for a replacement to voice Team Rocket’s Jessie. No official cause of death has been released either. Our hearts and thoughts go out to Pérez’s family and the greater Pokémon community mourning her passing.

READ: I Was Today Years Old When I Found Out This Mexican Pokémon

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