Things That Matter

A Restaurant In Mexico City Is Facing Backlash And Legal Trouble For Serving Endangered Tarantula Tacos

México en el paladar / Facebook

México en el Paladar, a restaurant located in Mexico City, is facing severe backlash after video surfaced of an employee cooking an endangered Mexican red rump tarantula. The restaurant has served up the eight legged animals inside a warm tortilla topped with smashed avocado and a squeeze of lime juice. The federal environmental protection agency in Mexico found out about the tarantulas because of a video posted to Facebook and seized four tarantula corpses that were about to be served. The restaurant is now under investigation for serving up the tarantulas.

México en el Paladar boasts a menu that specializes in “exotic pre-Hispanic cuisine” including grasshoppers, worms and ant eggs.

Esto es solo una de las preparaciones que se le hace a la Tarántula para que la podamos degustar!!!!

Posted by México en el paladar on Friday, May 18, 2018

The video, posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page, shows a cook using a flamethrower to burn the tarantula to a crisp. Tarantulas are part of the diets of many people around the world, like in Cambodia. However, the Mexican red rump tarantula is on the verge of extinction and are classified as a protected species making this 500 Mexican peso ($26 USD) taco illegal.

The Mexican red rump tarantula inhabits central and northern Mexico but good luck finding it at your local taco stand.

PROFEPA (the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection), Mexico’s environmental protection agency, inspected the restaurant last week  and found the dead tarantulas. The agency confiscated the tarantulas when the restaurant couldn’t provide legal documentation proving the origin of the spiders, the agency confirmed in a written statement.

The restaurant responded to the criticism it received on it’s Facebook page with the following comment:

“Good afternoon, indeed PROFEPA [Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente, or “Federal Environmental Protection Agency”] went to the premises and advised me in terms of documentation and took the tarantulas because, at the time, I did not have the documentation. Unfortunately, I haven’t taken the time to go get the tarantulas back with the proper documentation. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not working legally. These days I will go to PROFEPA with the documentation and will make it public for your knowledge, and for my part I will stop selling [the tacos] until I resolve everything with PROFEPA. Thank you.”

While the restaurant is under investigation for the tarantulas, the taco place is still open to customers.

CREDIT: CREDIT: PROFEBA

According to NBC San Diego, the restaurant advertised the tarantula taco dish as being “flamed and golden” and ready for eating. The restaurant employees also use the poison of the spider as the the main ingredient in a popular drink. While the tarantula taco is temporarily out of the restaurant, the owner has vowed to get documentation to prove that they acquired the spiders legally to bring them back.


READ: A List Of Latin American Cuisine That Isn’t For The Weak Stomach

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Hundreds Protest After Teen Girls Accuse Mexico City Police of Rape

Fierce

Hundreds Protest After Teen Girls Accuse Mexico City Police of Rape

Warning: This story is contains accounts of sexual assault, and can be disturbing to some of our readers.

Two weeks ago, four police officers were accused of raping a 17-year-old-girl in their patrol car. Two days later, another officer was accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in a museum. Friday night, protesters took to Mexico City streets armed with pink glitter and spray paint to demand justice for the teenagers, and all femicide victims in Mexico. The next day, Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, the city’s first female mayor, announced the suspension of six police officers implicated in the first case. The officer on patrol at the museum has been arrested.

Still, after nearly a century of living under a police force that women are taught to fear, the women who started the #NoMeCuidanMeViolan (“They don’t take care of me, they rape me”) movement are demanding a declaration of a gender alert in the capital, and tangible action to end femicide.

An estimated 300 women flooded Mexico City streets, and even covered Mexico City’s Secretary in pink glitter.

@rosepetalflufff / Twitter

One officer had been arrested on the grounds of rape the day before the protest, but the four who allegedly gang raped a minor in their patrol car were still active duty on the force at the time of Friday night’s protests.

Signs from the protest ranged from, “My friends protect me, not the police,” to “Sailor Moon taught me that you can kill monsters with glitter.”

The women ended the march at the Angel monument, where they raised their held hands up high.

@AndreaMireille / Twitter

The Angel monument celebrates the independence of Mexico from Spain, and is the chosen setting for quinceañera photo shoots, and town celebrations. The monument is a symbol of justice and freedom.

The protesters didn’t feel heard by the government, so they made sure the public hears them.

@BirbFree / Twitter

The base of the Angel monument was covered in “Kill the Patriarchy” and “Rape State” phrases, along with a pink feminist symbol on the culo of the lion. By morning, city workers had already begun power washing and repainting the base, now barricaded from view by a wooden wall.

A spokesperson for the National Fine Arts Institute said they were assessing the damage, and that the institute “respects freedom of speech and offers support for actions to eradicate all forms of violence against women.”

Police body-barricaded the doors of their station after protesters spray painted “RAPISTS” on its windows.

@gringatears / Twitter

In a statement, Mayor Sheinbaum said she perceived the protest as a “provocation.” Sheinbaum thinks the protesters “wanted the government to respond with violence. But we’re not going to do that.” The protests ended five hours later around 11 p.m. when paramedics arrived to treat the injured, 14 of whom were police officers. Sheinbaum has said that there will be consequences for the violence.

The most recent rape cases ignited the fire of an already explosive rage beneath the surface for women in Mexico.

@solehdad / Twitter

The United Nations estimates that an average of nine women are murdered every day in Mexico. The UN defines femicide as the deliberate killing of a woman or girl because of their gender, often after other violent, sexual crimes.

The Mexican government’s records of femicide rates are so inaccurate, journalist María Salguero, 40, has taken it upon herself to create her own map of femicides in Mexico. Salguero suspects that the state seeks to minimize gender-based violence, so she tracks the femicides for herself. Using Google alerts, Salguero records all of Mexico’s femicidal horror stories of 11-year-old taking the bus home and being found in the very same bus the next day, raped and murdered.

Mexican police have a long history of brutality against women.

@occupyoccupy / Twitter

“In the late 90s cops kidnapped three girls, three underage girls,” tweets one #NoMeCuidanMeViolan protester. “They raped them, and forced them to clean, cook and do stuff for them. One of them escaped and that’s how this was known. The three families however experienced retaliation.”

These stories are embedded in the fabric of Mexican society. Women have taken to social media to share the lessons their mothers taught them: to run from police. Never make eye contact. “Police are well known in #MexicoCity for being the main source of violence and corruption,” a protester tweets. “In 100 years since the establishment is #Mexico as we know it, no one has brought the police to account.”

Other teenagers have taken to social media to deliver chilling anticipatory goodbyes to their families.

@homeak / Twitter

If Human Rights Watch says Mexican laws do not adequately protect women and girls against domestic and sexual violence,” and law enforcement is actively raping young girls, how could they possibly feel safe?

To those more upset over vandalism than the violation of women’s bodies and lives, here’s your translation for the above graffiti: “The walls can be cleaned, but the girls will never return.”

#NoMeCuidanMeViolan protesters do not want to be compared to #MeToo.

@giselilla / Twitter

“This week in #Mexico feminists protested against the rape of a 17-year old by cops,” tweeted human rights lawyer and journalist, Gisela Pérez de Acha. “As justice is non-existent and the media criminalizes victims, the #MeToo hashtag does not suffice. Latin American feminisms are amazingly organized. #MeToo is not our paradigm #NoMeCuidanMeViolan”

Pérez de Acha is right. In the aftermath of the march, major media outlets’ reporting has focused on the damage from protesters, rather than from police officers.

Some protesters knew the media would bypass the femicide and rape crisis and focus on property damage.

@gringatears / Twitter

After coming home from the march, one protester tweeted their “final thoughts” about what tomorrow would bring. “Tomorrow’s headlines will inevitably emphasize the destruction of property by women protesting Mexico’s crisis of rape and femicide.”

Mexico’s largest media outlet, El Universal, chose to focus on the counter-protesters, “With hashtag #EllasNoMeRepresentan [They don’t represent me] condemn acts of vandalism during feminist march.” ABC News‘ headline read “Mexico City assesses monument damage after anti-rape march.” The Independent‘s headline chose to focus on a “TV presenter punched live on air during protest.”

So far, the media has quoted more art historians than protesters.

@rosepetalflufff / Twitter

In fact, in all the major U.S. outlets we reviewed, we haven’t seen a single protester quoted in their stories. Instead of spreading more statements from art historians, mitú is aiming to amplify the voices that make up #NoNosCuidanNosViolan.

“I’m thinking about who the media criminalizes and how,” Mexico City journalist Madeleine Wattenbarger tweets. “About what we consider violence, about how the symbolic violence of breaking a window has more impact than the direct violence of attacking, raping, killing a human being.”

Estamos contigo, México. ✊🏾

@madeleinewhat / Twitter

The case involving four police officers allegedly raping a 17-year-old in a patrol car has gone cold after prosecution said there were inconsistencies in the teen victim’s testimony.

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.

Credit: thatgaygringo / Instagram

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.

Credit: kwhigam / Flickr

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.

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