Things That Matter

Mexican Children As Young At 6 Are Training To Be Child Soldiers Against The Growing Violence At The Hands Of Cartels

Mexico has long been battling a drug war against a sprawling network of powerful cartels. However, in many parts of the country, the government isn’t focused on helping end the violence.

Most federal forces and national guard troops are sent to protect major cities or tourist destinations – think Acapulco, Cancun, or Mexico City.

This lack of protection is leading many across the country to come up with their own ways to defend themselves.

In the midst of a cartel war zone, children as young as six are taking up arms to fight back against growing cartels.

Credit: @nela_minded / Twitter

The Mexican Drug War started over a decade ago but with each passing year, it becomes more violent, despite promises from the new president to begin winding it down. The first three months of 2019 were the deadliest yet – with nearly 9,000 murders across the country.

Guerrero, a state that is home to the tourist resort of Acapulco and just south of the capital of Mexico City, is particularly deadly. It often tops the list of most deadly states in the country and is actually designated a ‘no-go zone’ by the US State Department.

It’s here in the Nahua village of Rincòn de Chautla where children as young as six are being trained to fight back against the cartels.

They march, train, and carry fake rifles made of tree branches while their instructor is armed with a real gun.

Credit: @RolandHuschke / Twitter

In a recent report, The Daily Beast spoke to several of these child soldiers. One six-year-old, Jeremías Ramìrez, said: “We’re practicing to defend our town, so los sicarios won’t be able to kill us.”

Angélica Flores, 12, when said: “If they come, we’ll be ready for them.” She wants her village to have “peace, justice, and to keep out the criminals.”

Both children are members of the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities (CRAC). Under Mexican law, indigenous peoples have traditionally been allowed to form policías comunitarias (community police) groups like CRAC.

As cartel violence has surged in recent years, these comunitarios, as they’re commonly called, are often the only protection available against ruthless and predatory cartels. Rincón de Chautla and the surrounding pueblos – all of which sit on an important shipping corridor for drugs and other contraband – are no exception.

In just the past month, seven villagers have been murdered or abducted.

Credit: @rebeccaplevin / Twitter

There have been seven Nahua murdered or abducted in the last month alone, five of whom were high-ranking members of the CRAC.

Two of these were dismembered by the Ardillos Cartel and left in trash bags at the side of the road running into Chilapa city in late May. The most recent victim, a retired community policeman named Eugenio Máximo, was dumped just outside of Rincón de Chautla on June 2nd.

The Nahua people can’t trust anyone but themselves for defense.

The communities of these rugged mountains say they are powerless without their own forces. They can’t rely on the soldiers or the police as they know they’re working with Los Ardillos.

One villager told The Daily Beast, “Once we’re dead our children must know how to defend themselves. The government is never going to save them.”

Even human rights organizations see few other options for the people of Rincòn de Chautla. “These communities are desperate,” one organization leader told The Daily Beast, “and there’s no one to turn to for help.”

But all-female brigade commander Rodrìguez has an even simpler answer for CRAC’s critics.“If those in the government don’t like women and niños training,” she says, “then let them do their job and protect us.”

Karen Vega Becomes The First Oaxacan Model To Grace Pages Of Vogue Mexico

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Karen Vega Becomes The First Oaxacan Model To Grace Pages Of Vogue Mexico

voguemexico/ Instagram

According to the National Commission for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples, Oaxaca has the greatest percentage of indigenous people in Mexico. Making up 48% of the population in Oaxaca, Mexico the indigenous group continues to flourish and influence Mexican culture to this day. And yet, despite their prevalence and contributions, Oaxacans remain sorely underrepresented in Mexico and Latin America. Only recently, with the rising attention towards actress Yalitza Aparicio, have most mainstream outlets featured the indigenous people of Oaxaca on their screens and magazine pages.

Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Karen Vega broke barriers recently after becoming the first Oaxacan model to be featured in Vogue Mexico

Just 18 years old, the model graced the magazine’s pages and spoke out about the importance of seeing more diversity in the world of fashion. “It is time for new generations to have media that show them expressions of equality and educate them about the differences that make us all beautiful,” Vega told the outlet. “My grain of sand would be to put the focus on the southern woman, our stories, where we come from so that more than just photo models, we can also be an inspiration of another kind.”

According to Vogue Mexico, Vega’s journey began at the age of 14 when she helped her abuelo’s wife with her business as a seamstress.

At the time, Vega helped her measure out the dresses that she made for a local fashion form. According to Vega, she quickly fell in love with the world of fashion and began to dream about modeling as a profession. Using social media sites as her instruction guide, she began to obtain an understanding of what fashion meant. She flipped through the pages of magazines and began connecting with models to understand how to break into the world of modeling. Soon enough, after receiving an invite from the designer Pompi García and the photographer Enrique Leyva to model for part of the production “Magical Realism” in the city of Oaxaca she found herself on the path to a professional career in modeling.

She went on to join García and Leyva’s modeling agency, Talento Espina. The agency strives to represent Oaxacan models and ultimately helped Vega receive an invite to participate in an Autumn-Winter show in Mexico City.

“At first there was a lot of doubt about my participation, because although it was a very nice opportunity, the move and my parents’ confidence to leave was difficult, since it was the first time I was leaving Oaxaca,” Vega told Vogue. Fortunately, Vega’s agency was able to help her older brother come along with her.

Now she’s modeling for big brands like Vogue and says its thanks to her agency which taught her to never tolerate abuse from people who hired her and to speak up. According to Vega, working with her agency has taught her that while pursuing her dreams of modeling will come with its struggles because of her Indigenous origins it’s not at all impossible. 

Someone Claims That They Discovered A Long-Lost Frida Kahlo Painting But Experts Don’t Agree

Things That Matter

Someone Claims That They Discovered A Long-Lost Frida Kahlo Painting But Experts Don’t Agree

Frida Kahlo - La Mesa Herida - The wounded Table - Der verwundete Tisch / YouTube

Frida Kahlo is one of the most iconic artists in global history. The Mexican artist was known for blazing her own path both in art and in society. One of her most famous paintings “The Wounded Table” has been missing for 65 years but one art dealer claims he found it.

A Spanish art dealer claims to have found a long-lost Frida Kahlo painting.

Kahlo painted “The Wounded Table” in 1940 and over the years it disappeared. It is unknown if it was returned to Moscow, was lost, or destroyed. All that is known is that Kahlo’s largest painting to that date is gone.

Cristian López Márquez, a little known art dealer in Spain, claims to have found the long-lost and highly sought after painting. According to La Voz de Galicia, the art dealers claims to have acquired the painting from some who settled in Spain from Mexico.

The painting is one of Kahlo’s most famous works of art.

The decades-long mystery about where the painting ended up does add to the allure of the claim. However, people are not convinced that the painting is a fake that is being peddled by someone who is after money by selling an inauthentic painting. To make matters more skeptical, the art dealer has very few details but is adamant about its authenticity.

“Time will give us the truth,” Márquez told AP. “Whoever proves genuine interest and the ability to pay the figure of 40 million euros, can spend as much time as wanted with their experts analyzing the work.”

Despite Márquez’s claims, art historians are very skeptical that the painting is true.

Márquez claims to have the painting safe in a warehouse in London. He has put the painting on sale asking for $45 million. No one seems to be biting but Márquez continues to say the painting is an original.

READ: Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul Is Celebrating Her 113th Birthday With A Week Full Of Digital Events