Things That Matter

They Discovered Mass Graves And Now These Grieving Mothers Are Being Threatened By Drug Cartels

Latin American history is full of brutal cases of disappearances that most likely translate into the death of a loved one. From the crimes perpetuated by the military dictatorships in Chile and Argentina, to the attacks on indigenous communities in Central America, numerous citizens have been killed and then their remains disposed of illegally.

Mexico is the latest country to be hit by a wave of desaparecidos, whose desperate relatives literally get down on their knees to dig the Earth and try to find an indication, anything, that could provide a clue on the ultimate fate of their loved ones. We cannot even imagine the pain of not knowing if a family member is alive or dead. Closure is also hard to attain as the circumstances of killings are rarely, if ever, clarified. 

Since 2006, when then president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa waged a direct, and many claimed poorly planned, war against the Mexican drug cartels, the country has become a mass graveyard.

 It is now common, although never ever acceptable, to hear about rural spots in which bones, clothes and other objects indicate that people have been killed. This reminds us, sadly, of dark passages in history, such as the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia, which saw people of all ages and backgrounds murdered in what is infamously known as “the killing fields”. Well, some areas of Mexico are today’s cemeteries for those who faced death in a violent way, while possibly having been tortured. 

It is not only cartel members that are being found in clandestine burial grounds: rotting infant clothes are a common, heartbreaking sight.

In the past 13 or so years, numerous sites have been dug up by desperate relatives, and some by the authorities. In states such as Coahuila they have found the remains of numerous women and children who were caught at the crossfire of the cartel wars. Some migrants coming from Central America have allegedly also been murdered and then buried in the desert. Some corpses indicate that they were burnt or dipped in acid.

This is the true, dehumanizing face of the war on drugs that has plagued Mexico for decades, product of local corruption, weapons being sold by US arms dealers and the insatiable thirst for drugs in Global North markets including the United States, Australia and Western European countries. 

Families in states like Sonora take matters into their own hands and volunteer to form search parties: they are now being threatened.

The Northern state of Sonora, which borders with Arizona and New Mexico, is at the epicenter of the cartel wars. It has a vast border area that is prime “real estate” for traffickers trying to get their product (drugs or, increasingly, victims of human trafficking), from Mexico into the United States. A group of citizens has formed voluntary search parties looking for human remains under the blistering Sonoran sun. As if the task itself wasn’t taxing enough, they are now being threatened by armed men. 

A recent discovery in Puerto Peñasco by the “Searching Mothers of Sonora” group raised a red flag.

The Sonora state prosecutor has revealed that while the mothers were waiting for the authorities to arrive and start investigations on a recently discovered burial pit, a group of sicarios arrived and, gun in hand, threatened them and ordered them to leave. Excavations produced four skeletons, which now need to be identified through a lengthy and costly process of DNA matching. The number of disappeared in Mexico is in the thousands, so even if a body is found matching it with one of the entries in the vast databases (many of which don’t “talk to each other” in the sense that there is no reliable list of desaparecidos) is a hard task. 

These mothers have lost almost everything, so they are proud and fearless.

It is likely that these mothers won’t budge. Their work has extended for years and just last month they found another burial site containing 42 skeletons near an area known as Rocky Point. As Arizona Central reported, when these volunteers found the mass grave they clearly stated their drive behind such a consuming task that basically takes over their lives: “to bring peace to other families that are going through the same pain”.

The figures are overwhelming:  an estimated 40,000 people have gone missing and more than 3,000 graves had been found across the country, according to media reports. Just trying to grasp this figures makes our heads in. It is a geopolitical crisis that needs to be addressed by all parties involved, it is not merely a local problem. 

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A University Is Releasing A Historic Mexican Cookbook Filled With Recipes You’d Want To Try

Culture

A University Is Releasing A Historic Mexican Cookbook Filled With Recipes You’d Want To Try

UTSA

The University of Texas San Antonio is bringing the history of Mexico into our kitchens. The university is releasing cookbooks that are collections of historic Mexican recipes. Right now, the desserts book is out and online for free. Main dishes and appetizers/drinks are coming soon.

You can now taste historic Mexico thanks to the University of Texas San Antonio.

UTSA has had an ongoing project of preserving, collecting, and digitizing cookbooks from throughout Mexico’s history. Some books date back to the 1700s and offer a look into Mexico’s culinary arts and its evolution.

UTSA has been digitizing Mexican cookbooks for years and the work is now being collected for people in the time of Covid.

Millions of us are still at home and projects like these can be very exciting and exactly what you need. The recipes are a way to distract yourself from the current reality.

“The e-pubs allow home cooks to use the recipes as inspiration in their own kitchens,” Dean Hendrix, the dean of UTSA Libraries, said in UTSA Today. “Our hope is that many more people will not only have access to these wonderful recipes but also interact with them and experience the rich culture and history contained in the collection.”

The free downloads are a way for people to get a very in-depth look into Mexican food history.

The first of three volumes of the cookbooks focuses on desserts so you can learn how to make churros, chestnut flan, buñelos, and rice pudding. What better way to spend your quarantine than learning how to make some of these yummy desserts. We all love sweets, right?

If you want to get better with making your favorite desserts, check out this cookbook and make it happen.

There is nothing better than diving into your history and using food as your guide. Food is so intrinsically engrained in our DNAs and identities. We love the foods and sweets from our childhood because they hold a clue as to who we are and where we come from. This historical collection of recipes throughout history is the perfect way to make that happen.

READ: The Laziest Food Hacks In All Of The Land Would Send Your Abuela To The Chancla

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Instead Of Celebrating Her Quince, This Teen Donated It All To Help Victims Of Covid-19

Things That Matter

Instead Of Celebrating Her Quince, This Teen Donated It All To Help Victims Of Covid-19

JiromyXool / Facebook

Few days are as important or as celebrated as a teenager’s 15th birthday. So imagine the level of selflessness one must have to be able to say ‘no, I don’t want any of the celebration, I rather help out my community.’

Well, one teen in Merida, Mexico did just that this week when she told her family ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to her big quince and instead used the money that had been raised for her special day to help out her neighbors who have been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Her party was canceled thanks to Coronavirus, so she decided to help out those less fortunate.

In many countries across Latin America, the quinceañera is a huge milestone for teenagers. Beautiful dresses, visits from the entire family, big parties, and the best gifts are the norm at most quinces. But for 15-year-old Jiromy Xool Pech, instead of spending money on a lavish birthday celebration, she opted to use her party funds to help feed the needy.

Jiromy and her family had long planned her quinceañera – she had been looking forward to it for years. But with the pandemic hitting her community in Mérida particularly hard, the teen decided to put the party aside and use everything that had been invested in the ceremony to help her neighbors who have been impacted by the pandemic.

“Instead of partying, I prefer to give food to people, to help them with that,” Jiromy told El Universal. Jiromy not only asked to donate the money for her quince to the community, but she was also out there helping distribute the food to her neighbors.

Jiromy and her family weren’t alone in helping out the community either. Much of the food that was given out was prepared from by neighbors and local businesses that came to join Jiromy’s cause once word began to spread.

Unfortunately, many quinceañeras have been canceled or postponed thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: Diego Sanchez / Getty Images

One of Mexico City’s most famous markets for buying quince dresses – el Mercado Lagunilla – has been closed for three months. This ins’t just hating a major impact on dressmakers and salespeople, but it also means that young teens aren’t able to buy the dresses to celebrate their big day.

But not all is completely lost: there are those who have begun to return, like Ximena González, who came with her family to try on dresses. Her quince was scheduled for May 16, but the pandemic changed everything, and now they expect it to take place in November.

“I was scared and upset but I had to accept it. Some friends can no longer go because they are moving,” she told El Universal. She added, “I hope that when it is my party the infections have gone down and that everything is done as if nothing had happened.”

Mexico has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, including Jiromy’s hometown of Merida.

Jiromy’s selfless act to help her community comes as Mexico continues to see record breaking numbers of cases. Tens of thousands are dying and even more are losing their jobs and being forced back into poverty.

As of August 6, Mexico has more than 456,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 49,698 people have died from the virus. In Jiromy’s state of Yucatan, there have been more than 10,000 cases of the virus and it’s had a huge impact on tourism, which is a major economic force in the state. Therefore, it makes sense that the 15-year-old thought it was important to use the money raised for her party to help those who are suffering financially.

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