Things That Matter

It Is So Hard To Pay Back Student Loan Debts In The US That American Borrows Are Fleeing To Live Abroad To Avoid Paying

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Financial analysts have long predicted that the next bubble that will burst and lay damage on the economy of the United States (y por ende of the whole world) is the student debt bubble. Millions of college graduates owe so much money as a result of their graduate degrees that it will take a good amount of years before they can enjoy a clean slate, un nuevo inicio with no malditas deudas. As employment prospects grow dimmer in troubling financial times, these graduates just can’t get the jobs that will allow them to live comfortable, grow their wealth, and pay their student loans. It is a monetary bottleneck that has everyone scratching their heads. What to do? Condone debt and give people with university degrees a chance? That is sort of unfeasible, as the financial system is sustained through futures, bonds and the selling and buying of debt, so sometime, somewhere, there would be a huge hole in the system.

Some graduates are finding an alternative that is as legally tricky as it is ethically controversial: they are leaving the United States to avoid paying their debts. Some live in Europe, others look for alternative citizenships based on their heritage and some others just migrate to places like Australia, where Anglo migration (read, white migration!) is given a free pass even if their visa status is not crystal clear.

This option has sparked fiery debates on the Internet, as more and more news outlets report on members of an arguably lost generation who chose to leave rather than to live in debt. 

Vice published an article on Americans who now live almost debt-free in Europe. This happened all the way back in 2016, so this is not quite new.

Credit: @FeministGriote / Twitter

The phenomenon has been present for at least three years (could the election of POTUS be a factor, we guess?). Anyway, users such as Sister Outsider were not happy at all is that who the country is, she asked? 

Others thought that this was a very smart move because student loan debt interest rates are nearly impossible to overcome.

Credit: @Hippington / Twitter

This dude James Hipp seems to take it a bit more lightly. Well, anything goes eh?

The article sparked some seriously opposing views, despite the growing fear that millions of students will remain in debt indefinitely.

Credit: @that1laura / @Mchacon49r / Twitter

These two couldn’t possibly be farther apart in their views. One calls these “Debt Dodgers” as the VICE article called them, “selfish, entitled, and arrogant”. Meanwhile, a user who is actually wearing graduation regalia simply says that she doesn’t blame them. Perhaps she is facing similar fears and uncertainty in terms of her future in the workplace. Because let’s be honest: things are pretty grim the world over. Not to mention that there have been recent articles about people entering retirement with student loan debt left to pay.

Some people just don’t understand how someone could run from their student loans.

Credit: @xavifred / Twitter

Did Xavi dude just calls them “deadbeats”, huevonesperezosos. But sometimes these are people who actually want to work, but find little or no prospects at home and look for a better horizon. Isn’t that what the immigrant spirit is made up from?

Just last year a CNBC article set fire to Twitter over the same issue.

Credit: @airfarceone / Twitter

This user, who we assume is a conservative Internet keyboard warrior, equates debt dodgers with the young men who dodged the draft during the Vietnam War. Is this a fair comparison? Yes, they decided to get an education, but this is the core of the controversy: should education be a right or a privilege?

Should some people just not go to college? @AlephBlog seems to think so.

Credit: @AlephBlog / Twitter

The CNBN article told the story of a graduate in debt who now lives in India, caring for elephants. User David Merkel simply says that these people should not go to college at all. Is he right? His savage judgment evidences a worldview in black and white. Obviously, people don’t want to leave.

No one asked them to go to university? Well, things are a bit more complicated than that, @TeresaGillia.

Credit: @TeresaGillia / Twitter

The contemporary social and financial status quo demands that young people acquire skills in information management and professional work. Manual work in the United States is generally underpaid, so if folk want to get ahead in life a university education seems to be the only way. So the choice is limited: yes, young people can choose not to go to university, but in doing so are risking not advancing in life, in monetary terms. But what happens when people get a degree, work hard and still see no descanso in sight?

User Jim Robinson has a point: the banks and other financial institutions are also to blame.

Credit: @ThatJimR / Twitter

Just as the 2008 Global Financial Crisis revealed (you can see it explained with peras y manzanas in the movie The Big Short), the addiction to debt and the trigger happy nature of the banking system has generated a lot of immediate wealth that ultimately leads to financial ruin. Banks have chosen to loan so much money knowing that students won’t be able to pay it back, that their bad decisions have come to bite everyone en el culo. Jim Robinson is right: some loans are indiscriminate. These financial practices border criminality de cuello blanco

Student debt has been on everyone’s mind this past month, ever since this billionaire wiped off the debt of an entire graduating class.

Credit: @ijsvv / Twitter

It might seem to be the feel-good story of the month, but the fact that Robert F. Smith made this magnificent donation and gave a whole class of students an Oprah-like moment is more like the symptom of a broken system, rather than a sign of pure goodwill. He must have looked at all those young people, mostly Black, and knew that they would face a lot of hardship unless he interfered, that the joy of graduation would soon turn into the darkness of precarious financial prospects.

Let’s get some context on the current political climate: this tweet sort of sums up what many are facing.

Credit: @rideatdawn/ Twiter

At the other end of the political spectrum, we find another millionaire, Betsy DeVos, the US Secretary of Education, who is actually cutting the budget for debt forgiveness. This tweet captures the feeling that many are having at the moment: any life-changing step (such as having kids or buying a house) is stalled due to the lack of support that the government is able or willing to give to those taking their first steps into adult life. What is the solution?

 The “Debt dodger” controversy got new traction a few days ago.

Credit: @lany891 / Twitter

New reports point to a spike to this trend, and the conversation has gained momentum given the prominence that the student debt crisis has had leading to the presidential election next year. This user references the plan drawn by Dem presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren, who proposes to wipe out student debt by taxing the wealthy. According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll, 56% of registered voters support the Massachusetts senator’s proposal. It is hard to judge either side, but something’s gotta give and the student debt crisis will either puncture or strengthen the idea of the American Dream (our take, solidarity is always best).

READ: The SATs Have A Problematic And Racist History Fueled By The Creator Of The Test Who Praised Eugenics And Racial Separation

Puerto Vallarta Has Long Been An LGBTQ-Friendly Travel Destination And Here’s Why

Culture

Puerto Vallarta Has Long Been An LGBTQ-Friendly Travel Destination And Here’s Why

ThatGayGringo / Instagram

Puerto Vallarta is one of the favorite Mexican tourist destinations of the LGBT community. There are hotels, bars, nightclubs, beaches, and even drinks specifically for LGBT travelers, and due to the safety and welcoming environment for these guests, it is the first city in Mexico to receive the Gay Travel Approved distinction by GayTravel.com.

But why PV? What made Vallarta Mexico’s top gay destination?

Let’s start back at the beginning.

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In the south of Puerto Vallarta you will find the “Old Town,” also called “The Romantic Zone,” the tourist area favored by expats and foreigners who want to soak up local traditions. The Old Puerto Vallarta is also considered the gay neighborhood since 1980, when the gay community and retired Canadians and Americans bought land and properties in order to create gay-friendly businesses. Today there’s a wide variety of attractions with this focus, including bars, restaurants, stores, nightclubs, and both budget and boutique hotels.

In this zone is nestled the popular beach Playa de los Muertos, which, although not exclusively gay, for the last 20 years has been known as a gay-friendly beach (also called Blue Chairs, because of the many blue chairs placed by a gay resort which bears the same name), mainly in the high season, from November to March.

Why is this pristine beach the LBGT meeting point? Because the gay-friendly beachfront hotels in the area causes—and guarantees—a concentration of LGBT tourists, bringing a multicultural ambience where members of this community will be respected without discrimination. In the morning they can socialize and enjoy the party atmosphere, and in the afternoon walk holding hands under the dazzling sunset, in a romantic atmosphere free of hostility. Such is the high demand for LGBT-friendly vacation spots that the area has been extended to include the green chairs and as far as the north coast, in the elegant Oceano Sapphire Beach Club, owned by gays.

But it’s about more than just the beach.

Credit: David Stanley / Flickr

Unlike certain countries, laws against homosexuality never existed in Mexico. There is, however, a strong macho culture and religious influence which disapproves it—nonetheless the locals show respect. Under these circumstances, the growing community has led LGBT organizations to work to promote a change of culture in the pursuit of equality. Their work has gotten results: they have achieved recognition of gay rights, and implemented laws against the provocation and incitement of hate or violence against LGBTs, and also to guarantee equality in employment and public accomodation and services. Even more, in 2013 Puerto Vallarta legalized civil union between LGBT couples, followed by same-sex marriage in 2016.

This city organized its first Gay Pride March, and has hosted the Pink & Proud Women’s Party—the equivalent lesbian celebration—for the last four years, with assistance from the local Canadian and American communities. The multiple events in support of the LGBT community have marked out Puerto Vallarta as the “Mexican San Francisco.”

Now, there’s a giant and flourishing LGBTQ tourism industry that welcomes people from around the world.

Credit: Kristopher Roller / Unsplash

For the last 10 years, the number of LGBT visitors has increased in Puerto Vallarta and Jalisco, and in order to meet demand, the number of LGBT-friendly resorts and touristic attractions has also increased. Now three of every 10 hotels in Puerto Vallarta are LGBT-friendly, and most also offer weddings and other symbolic ceremonies.

Bars, nightclubs and other amenities are already focused on this market, and there are also tours—like the Gay VIP Bars Tour—and even drinks—like the Gay Tequila and the Gay Energy Drink—to make these guests feel extra welcome. As a result, Puerto Vallarta now hosts International LGBT Business Expos, with important conferences and events, including fashions shows, beach parties and music festivals to celebrate this booming market.

Puerto Vallarta remains the gateway to Mexico for many LGBTQ travelers.

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Some other cities have recognized the demand, and are now attempting to attract LGBT tourism to their destinations. Puerto Vallarta is not letting it happen: diverse businesses—no matter the sexual preference—are joining forces to create organizations to promote this targeted brand of tourism. The market gives consumers what they want, and they have identified this growing target and will not let it go.

Beyond the marketing, Puerto Vallarta became a platform to support gay rights, and the LGBT community knows it and feels welcome here. What really keeps the LGBT community hitting Puerto Vallarta is the activism, respect, and freedom they find in this beautiful paradise.

These Are Mexico’s Top Cenotes And These Photos Of The Swimming Holes Are So Stunning You’ll Want To Visit Them ASAP

Culture

These Are Mexico’s Top Cenotes And These Photos Of The Swimming Holes Are So Stunning You’ll Want To Visit Them ASAP

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Mexico is home to incredible natural landscapes and beautiful places to swim. But few are as other worldly nor as beautiful as the country’s thousands of cenotes – or underground swimming holes.

Cenotes are naturally occurring sinkholes that expose groundwater and trap rain as a result of collapsed limestone. They are beautiful caves that will light your spirit adventure and will transport you to an underwater world. 

The word cenote derives from the Mayan word Dzonot, which means “well.” Many of the cenotes found in Mexico are located in the Yucatán Peninsula due to the flat limestone that makes up the area. 

For Mayans, cenotes were considered to be entrances to the underworld. Cenotes are a source of great energy and some were used in rituals. 

Here are the best cenotes to visit next time you find yourself in Mexico.

Dos Ojos

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Located in Tulum, Mexico, the Dos Ojos cenote  is one of the most popular cenotes in the area. The term Dos Ojos mean ‘two eyes’ and was named that due to the passage way  that connects two sinkholes. The deepness of the cenote is perfect for those who want try snorkeling. 

The cenote is open from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM daily. The entrance fee is 200 pesos and snorkeling gear can be rented near by. 

Ik Kil

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The Ik Kil cenote is located in Yucatan, Mexico and is one of the most popular tourist attractions. The cenote is located almost 1.5 miles away from the famous Chichén Itzá. This cenote is perfect for divers. 

The cenote is open 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and there is an entrance fee of 80 pesos.

Choo-Ha

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Choo-Ha is located near the Coba ruins in the Yucatán Peninsula. This cenote is covered with naturally forming stalagmites. To enter, you will have to go through a staircase leading to a small hole above ground. The cenote also provides access to both Tamcach-Ha and Multún-Ha. 

The cenote is open 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM daily and there is an entrance fee of 100 pesos for each cenote.

Suytun

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The beautiful Suytun Cenote is located in Valladolid, Mexico. The word Suytun means ‘center stone,’ which references the platform that is located at the center of this cenote. This cenote is one of the most popular cenote’s and it’s with good reason. 

The cenote is open 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and there is an entrance fee of 120 pesos.

Dream Gate

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The Dream Gate cenote is just that, a dream. The cenote is located in Quintana Roo, Mexico and is incredibly popular among scuba divers. It has been featured in a number of documentaries. It’s a cenote that is recommended for experienced divers. 

The cenote is open 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily and there is an entrance fee of $15 (USD)

Gran Cenote

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Gran Cenote is located in Quintana Roo, Mexico. There are plenty of fish, turtles, and bats that are unafraid of visitors. Since this a pretty popular cenote, plan ahead and arrive early to beat the crowds. 

The cenote is open 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily and there is an entrance fee of 180 pesos.

Calavera

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The Calavera cenote, located in Tulum, Mexico, gets its name because the opening to the cenote makes it appear like a skull. You can cliff jump from the opening of this cenote into the cool clear water below. 

The cenote is open 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily and there is an entrance fee of 100 pesos.

Tajma Ha

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Located in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, this cenote is recommended for divers who are a little bit more experienced than average. Your dive into Tajma Ha will take you to a cave named Sugar Bowl. The dive will take about an hour each way, but the views will be worth it. 

The cenote is open 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily and there is an entrance fee of 232 pesos.

Cenote’s are wonderful because they occur naturally, are beautiful, and they have a lot of meaning behind them. If you plan on visiting one of these cenotes, plan accordingly and go when the weather is good such as from December to April.

If you visit one of these cenotes, please do not wear sunscreen or other lotions as they can damage the marine ecosystems located there. If you do use these products, make sure the cenote you are visiting has showers so you don’t contaminate the water. 

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