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Stories from and

Before the Border: The Immigrant Odyseey Across Mexico

The perils of crossing the border between Mexico and the United States are well documented, but for thousands of undocumented migrants from Central America, crossing Mexico is even more dangerous.

To reach the US border, undocumented migrants from Central America undertake a dangerous 1,500-mile trip through Mexico, where they risk being kidnapped, assaulted or killed by the drug cartels, gangs and even the police. What happens in that journey?

This animation will take you through that journey, explaining the threats that migrants face to reach the “safety” of the US.

Animated Press takes some of the most complex topics in the news and distills them into short and fun animations, like the Syrian Conflict, the Greek Crisis and the Net Neutrality, among others.

Prisoner of Conscience Pedro Canché's Letter to Journalist Carmen Aristegui

From jail, Pedro Canché wrote a letter to fellow journalist Carmen Aristegui after her recent and controversial exit from media group MVS. This letter was published on his Tumblr blog “Diary of a prisoner of conscience“.

15 de marzo de 2015 Carta a Carmen AristeguiA propósito del consumado golpe al equipo de investigación de MVS, en específico a tu equipo de noticias, Carmen Aristegui, ¿cuándo tendremos en México un canal de televisión o cadena de radio nacional exclusivo de periodistas?
¿Qué necesitas?
Si don Julio Scherer demostró con la revista Proceso la independencia del poder plutocrático y oligárquico del periodismo auténtico ahora le toca a una mujer aterrizar un proyecto nacional al estilo Aristegui. Todo nuestro apoyo. Es hora y tiempo de que los nuevos vientos soplen en favor del viejo arte del periodismo honesto.
Toda mi solidaridad con Daniel Lizarraga e Irving Huerta. Pero no basta con ser solidarios y pronunciarse cómodos desde el celular o la computadora ¿Qué necesitas Carmen Aristegui?
Basta con apelar a la buena voluntad de todos los mexicanos, esa minoría. Pero de férrea voluntad que lee y a la que Televisa y Tv Azteca no le han logrado chupar el cerebro y convertirlos en zombies, todo un manjar para la clase política, en especial al PRI. El PRI maldito.Todos le entramos a la cooperación Carmen Aristegui. Es muy incómodo hacer periodismo desde la palestra de la oligarquía. Bastante incómodo. Como mexicana, y sobretodo como periodista, considéralo.
Aterriza el proyecto ¿dinero? todos le entramos. Todos. Todos los que no queremos ver arder a nuestro México.

March 15, 2015. Letter to Carmen Aristegui. On behalf of the coup done to the MVS research team, specifically to your news team, Carmen Aristegui, when will we have a TV or radio channel just for journalists in Mexico?

What do you need?

If Mr. Julio Scherer while at Proceso magazine showed independence from plutocratic and oligarchic power for authentic journalism, now is the time for a woman to land a national project, Aristegui style. You have all our support. It is time for new winds to blow in favor of the old, honest art of journalism.

All my support to Daniel Lizarraga and Irving Huerta. But supporting is not enough, nor is taking a stance comfortably from your cell phone or your computer. What do you need, Carmen Aristegui?

It should be enough appealing to the good will of all Mexicans, that minority with iron will who reads and to whom Televisa and Tv Azteca have not yet brain washed and turned into zombies, into a nice feast for the political class, PRI especially. That dreadful PRI. We all cooperate, Carmen Aristegui. It is very uncomfortable to make journalism from the arena of oligarchy. Quite uncomfortable. As a Mexican woman, and above all a journalist, think about it.

Start the project, money? We all will help out. Everybody. Everybody who doesn't want to see our Mexico burn.

Pedro Canché was detained on August 30, 2014, accused of sabotage, after covering a protest against the rise in water service fees at Felipe Carrillo Puerto city hall in Quintana Roo, Mexico. As he awaits sentencing, he regularly publishes on his blog images, videos, phrases and thoughts about freedom of expression with the help of organizacion Article19.

Spain and Latin America Celebrate Open Data Day

One again, bloggers, hackers, designers, experts, as well as citizens interested in open data and transparency will meet to celebrate International Open Data Day 2015 all over the world to promote the opening of government data. The event is expected to have online meetings but also in-person activities all over the globe, requiring exceptional coordination and organization. 

Open Data Day 2015, imagen extraída de la página Escuela de Datos, utilizada con autorización

Open Data Day 2015, image from Escuela de Datos. Used by permission

Faeriedevilish, blogging for School of Data, informs us on the Open Data Day festivities to take place on Saturday, February 21st in Spain and various cities in Latin America. Here you'll find information about the organization and event coordination in Buenos Aires, Lima, Medellín, Madrid, Mexico City, Xalapa, Monterrey, San Salvador, Panama City, etc., where many different activities will be held:

Alerta – Nos unimos a Abierto al Público: queremos que #datosabiertos se vuelva trending topic mundial en Twitter el 21 de febrero. Para lograrlo, las organizaciones participantes tuitearemos con este hashtag (y pediremos a lxs participantes que también lo hagan) el sábado 21 a partir de las 10:00 hora México, 11:00 hora Lima, 13:00 hora Buenos Aires, 17:00 hora Madrid. Importante: no usar el hashtag antes de esta hora.

Alert – We're meeting at Abierto al Público: we want #datosabiertos (#opendata) to trend on Twitter on February 21st. To do so, we'll be tweeting participating organizations with this hashtag (and we ask participants to do the same) on Saturday, February 21st starting at 10:00 in Mexico City, 11:00 in Buenos Aires, 17:00 in Madrid. Important: do not use the hashtag before this time. 

Click here for more information on the International Open Data Day festivities. 

You can follow @faeriedevilish and Escuela de Datos on Twitter.

This selected article participated in the 43rd edition of #LunesdeBlogsGV on February 16, 2015. 

Two Latin Americans Nominated for Index Freedom of Expression Awards

Afiche de los premios Index a la libertad de expresión

Index's poster for the Freedom of Expression Awards

The communication platform, Courage for Tamaulipas, and Ecuadorian sketch artist, Xavier “Bonil” Bonilla, were the only Latin Americans nominated at the Index Freedom of Expression Awards, which recognizes organizations and individuals in the fight against censorship. 

The awards were created by Index on Censorship, an international organization dedicated to defending freedom of expression. Awards are given out in four categories: journalism, art, campaigns, and digital activism. Out of a total of 2,000 nominations, only 17 advanced to the final round.

Bonilla, who's nominated in the art category, has been the target of fines and various legal battles in Ecuador. In 2013 President Rafael Correa passed a law allowing the government to control certain content by journalists. Among the first victims were the newspaper El Universo as well as Bonilla himself. Both had to retract a drawing and pay a fine.

Meanwhile, Courage for Tamaulipas is competing in the digital activism category, and here the public can vote by clicking on the following link. The Mexican site was created in one of the most dangerous areas for journalism. Since 2010, six journalists have been killed, and violence by drug cartels in the region has resulted in a media blackout. Now drug-related violence is reported anonymously by the citizens. 

Roll Call to Never Forget the Missing Ayotzinapa Students

Since the disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa last September, a group of citizens driven by Mexican journalist and producer Epigmenio Ibarra has decided to prevent the case from being forgotten by conducting a roll call of the names of each student every day at 10 p.m. Mexico Central Time. 

Mexicans and foreigners alike have joined this initiative both within and outside of the country. 

We say their names every night. We will continue doing so until we conquer truth and get justice.

Each name is normally accompanied by an illustration from the Illustrators for Ayotzinapa movement to keep the memory of the students humanized. Some also add the phrase “Because if we forget, they win” to remind people about the importance of maintaining their memory alive. 

No to closing the case. We're going to push harder, we will cast a shadow over EPN. 10pm Roll call.

The roll call continues to gain traction. 

 The daily roll call by @epigmenioibarra continues to get up to 500RTs per student. 

Each night, RTs of the roll call from 1 to 43 reaches thousands in their TLs. It's another small protest accompanying the efforts. Let's continue together. 

And every day there is a call to join this roll call where the following hashtags, relevant to the movement, are included: #YaMeCansé (#TiredofThis), #AcciónGlobalporAyotzinapa (#GlobalActionforAyotzinapa), #NosFaltan43 (#We'reMissing43), among others.

Group: Those against apathy and neglect and because #We'reMissing43, let's join the roll call #WeAreAllAyotzinapa with @epigmenioibarra

Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it. Ready for the roll call with @epigmenioibarra 

The Media's Role in Mexico's ‘Warped’ Democracy

Fotografía extraída del blog de Fernando Vazques Rigada, utilizada con autorización

Photo from Fernando Vazquez Rigada's blog, used with permission

Blogger Fernando Vázquez Rigada reflects on the role of the media in Mexico, a country where he says democracy is “warped” because it only works on a formal level, and society isn't adequately represented by the political institutions.

He adds that Mexican media bear a huge responsibility in this issue. There are a variety of media in Mexico, however, quantity does not always goes hand in hand with quality, especially considering that the political power is closely linked to the media system:

El estado mexicano gasta una cantidad descomunal de recursos anualmente en pago a medios de comunicación. Sabemos que el poder ejecutivo federal invierte alrededor de 6 mil millones de pesos al año. Esa cifra, sin embargo, excluye a los otros poderes, a los 31 estados, al DF y a los 2,457 municipios y a las 16 delegaciones del DF. Tampoco incluye al gasto de los partidos políticos. La cifra debe multiplicarse al menos por diez.

Así, los medios en México deben recibir de dinero público algo así como 70 mil millones de pesos anuales. 191 millones de pesos cada día. Casi 8 millones de pesos cada hora.

Eso explica la enorme laguna informativa que ahoga a México.

The Mexican state spends an enormous amount of money in payments to media outlets. We know that the federal executive branch invests about six billion Mexican pesos a year. That figure, however, excludes other powers, the 31 Mexican states, Mexico DF, 2,457 municipalities and 16 delegations in Mexico City. Nor does it include the expenditure of political parties. So, that figure should be multiplied at least, tenfold.

Thus, the media in Mexico should receive annually from public money around 70 billion Mexican pesos. 191 million pesos every day. Nearly 8 million pesos per hour.

That explains the huge information gap in Mexico.

Vázquez Rigada concludes that its links with political power and its economic dependence prevent the media from reporting freely and fulfilling its role of monitoring those in power, pointing out flaws and opening political debate.

You can follow Fernando Vázquez Rigada on Twitter.

This post was part of the 44th #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on February 23, 2015.

Firing of Mexican Journalist Carmen Aristegui Unleashes Heated Comments on Twitter

At the launching of MéxicoLeaks, a platform that collects leaked information about possible corruption, journalist Carmen Aristegui and her research team declared that they would back the project. This lead MVS Radio, their employer, to fire Aristegui's collaborators, Daniel Lizarraga and Iriving Huerta, for supposedly compromising the company name. In response, Aristegui demanded that the radio station rehire Lizarraga and Huerta, after which the company let her go as well.

This led to an outcry of support from followers on Twitter, who openly displayed their indignation for MVS News with the hashtags #EnDefensaDeAristegui (Defending Aristegui), #EnDefenesaDeAristegui2, and #AristeguiSeQueda (Aristegui stays). Users also discussed the state of freedom of expression in Mexico.  

MVS is accused of being linked to the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI in Spanish).

On the flip side, the hashtag #LárgateAristegui (Get out Aristegui) spewed criticism and verbal attacks at the Mexican journalist: 

The governing party, PRI, is accused of creating this hashtag: 

Peñabots are presumed to be fake accounts set up by President Peña Nieto's administration in order to counteract any opposition towards the government.

Mexican Protesters Show Creative Activism

@faeriedevilish, blogging for Infoactivismo, reflects on the need to be creative in communicating our protests. Along those lines, the author explains the importance of creativity while referring to protesting events in Ayotzinapa, where photocopies of the victims’ faces were used to attract and generate awareness about the terrible incidents.

Fotografía extraída del blog Infoactivismo, utilizada con autorización

Photo from Infoactivismo. Used by permission.

Illustrators not only made use of online resources to get the public's attention, but the streets also took the leading role for young people's creativity. 

En una ciudad en la que la proliferación de marchas lleva en el mejor de los casos a una saturación, y en el peor de ellos, a prejuicios de clase, hacer que las marchas de Acción Global Ayotzinapa dieran incentivos para seguir participando fue un reto gigantesco.

Y es que marchar es del Contingente Carreola. Marchar es usar tu talento para incidir – como los jóvenes de la ENAP que pintaron las caras de lxs desaparecidxs en Reforma, lxs estudiantes de la Nacional de Música que marchaban interpretando música. Marchar es de quienes cuentan del 1 al 43, y de quienes cambian los dichos machistas por versiones feministas.

Marchar no es aburrido ni tedioso: es una forma de participación social que, de hecho, puede ser bastante divertida.

In a city where a proliferation of marches can either fill the streets or lead to class prejudices, it was a huge challenge to have the Ayotzinapa Global Action encourage further participation. 

The march is lead by the Stroller Contingent. Marching uses your talent to have an affect on people, such as the kids from the National School of Plastic Arts who painted their faces reflecting the people who disappeared during the Reform period, and students from the National Conservatory of Music marched while playing music. The march has people from ages 1 to 43 and those willing to change their chauvinist remarks for more feminist ones. 

Marching isn't boring or tedious. It's a way to participate in something social and fun. 

You can follow Infoactivism on Twitter

This selected article participated in the 42nd edition of #LunesDeBlogsGV on February 9, 2015.

Keeping Up the Fight on World Cancer Day

Captura de pantalla del blog Tengo cáncer y sigo brillando.

Screenshot of the I Have Cancer and Keep Shining blog.

¡Hola! Mi nombre es Alejandra Baca, pero todos me dicen Ale, excepto los doctores, ellos me dicen “Karlita”. Vivo en Chihuahua, México. Me gusta estudiar, bailar, leer y salir con mis amigos. Estudio la Lic. en Administración y soy misionera.

Hi! My name is Alejandra Baca, but everyone calls me Ale except the doctors, who call me “Karlita.” I live in Chihuahua, Mexico. I like to study, dance, read, and go out with friends. I'm working on my degree in administration, and I'm a missionary. 

The introduction from Alejandra Baca's blog, I Have Cancer and Keep Shining, where she writes about having non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Her cancer was diagnosed when she was 17. After a bone marrow transplant, chemotherapy sessions, she's had to give up modeling.

“Big changes are always accompanied by a big blow. It's not the end of the world. It's the beginning of a new one. 

February 4th is World Cancer Day (#DiaMundialcontraelCancer).

Mexico: An Unsatisfactory and Late Presidential Address

On Thursday, November 27, 2014, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto addressed publicly Mexican nation to make a stand about the shocking events occured in Iguala and to announce a set of actions to be taken.

The address was a disappointment for most of the Mexican people, who expected more from their president. In this context, Fernando Vázquez Rigada responds ciítically to the presidential address and points out it was not only late, but it also lacked empathy towards the people. Furthermore, the announced mesaures weren't enough to face the current Mexican crisis:

La mención al combate a la corrupción fue blanda y retórica. Se asume el plan de la oposición, pero sin ser capaz de agregar nada ni de garantizar una nueva ética que se base en los mejores hombres, en las mejores prácticas, en un blindaje real e inmediato. Vendrá la implementación de las reformas por los mismos que han debido cancelar licitaciones, encubrir, coludirse.

Lo mejor fue la mención a la aplicación del modelo chino de estímulo al crecimiento. La pobreza no produce criminales, pero si divide y desgarra.

La nación esperaba el jueves a un ejecutivo y encontró a un legislador. Aguardaba a un líder que compartiera el dolor, que mostrara reflexión sobre sus errores propios, que asumiera los costos que le corresponden y, sobre todo, que inspirara a una sociedad harta y desconsolada.

The mention about fighting corruption was soft and rhetorical. The plan from the opposition might be guessed, but without the possibility of adding nothing on nor secure a new ethics based in new men, better practices, a real and immediate reinforcement. The reforms will be implemented by the same people who should have called off tendrs, concealed, colluded.

The best thing was the mention of implementing the Chinese model of growth boost. Poverty doesn't produce criminals, bit it does divide and rips up.

On Thursday, the nation was waiting for an ejecutive and came across a legislator. They were waiting for a leader that might share their pain, that might show some reflection upon his own flaws, that would assume the costs upon him and, above all, that might inspire a society that's fed up and inconsolable.

You can follow Fernando on Twitter.

This post was part of the thirty-first #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on December 1, 2014.

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