Stories from Quick Reads and Mexico
The tragedy of the students from Ayotzinapa in Guerrero, Mexico, has started a wave of solidarity among Mexicans and people throughout the world, so much so that students from at least 43 counties are demanding justice for their missing peers.
But to explain the sentiments of families and locals engaged with security and good living, let's listen to what a Mexican has to say. Fernando Vázquez Rigada, in a sensitive article, is harsh in his criticisms of passive society and of his government as well:
El estado llegó tarde y llegó mal. La desaparición de más de 50 seres humanos hubiera accionado los resortes de seguridad nacional de cualquier estado decente. Pero éste no lo es. Y llegó mal: porque, titubeante, no ha atinado a tomar el control de una crisis que hace que las instituciones se desmoronen y que la irritación social sea contenida. La esposa de Abarca está arraigada, porque no se pudo acreditarle ningún delito que ameritara orden de aprehensión del juez. La mujer que los escondió salió bajo caución: porque no se le considera cómplice, encubridora, de un crimen que ha conmovido al mundo entero.
The state arrived late and in bad shape. The disappearance of more than 50 human beings would have unleashed the national security mechanisms in any decent society. But this one is not. And it arrived in bad shape: because being hesitant, it has been unable to take control of a crisis that makes institutions crumble and that social irritation gets restrained. No crime could be proved to Abarca's wife, so there is no judicial order for her arrest. The woman who hid them was bailed out: as she is not considered accomplice, accessory to a crime that has shocked the whole world.
Vasquez Rigada concludes: “The sea is rough. The vessel creaks. The crew can't control the vessel. The passengers have fear and hate. And the helm is loose.”
You can follow Fernando on Twitter: @fvazquezrig
Fernando Vázquez Rigada blogged on October 27 about the dreadful events occured in the community of Iguala, Mexico. By his understanding, this has unveiled just how rotten the government is, starting from the involvement of the former mayor and continuing with the corruption within institutions.
El 26 había una crisis local, el 27 una nacional, el 28 una internacional. Hoy, un callejón sin salida.
On the 26th it was a local crisis, on the 27th it was national, the 28th it became international. Today, a dead end.
Vázquez called the situation a ”game changer”, saying, “Those shocks that don't change the rules of a game: they change the game.” He pointed out several things the government should consider in those moments:
Primero: deberá redefinir sus objetivos.
Segundo: deberá escuchar. La calle hierve. Hay un reclamo general.
Tercero: sus cálculos políticos deberán modificarse.
First: The government should redefine its goals.
Second: It will have to listen. The streets are boiling. There is general uproar.
Third: Their political calculations will have to be modified.
The author ends by noting:
El país cambió el 26 de septiembre. El gobierno aún no se ha dado cuenta. Veremos si no es muy tarde.
The country changed on September 26. The government still hasn't realized. Let's see if it's not too late.
Today, more than three weeks later, we know it's late too for the government, but we hope it might not be for the 43 students who are still missing. Just as the protesters chant: “They were taken alive, we want them alive!“
You can add your signature to a petition to demand the Mexican government investigate who was behind the tragedy and why.
Follow Fernando Vázquez Rigada on Twitter: @fvazquezrig
Arely Torres-Miranda, blogging for Mujeres construyendo (Women building), questions the misogyny and the chauvinism that exist within Mexican political parties, something they all have in common across the board: former representatives of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) who hire sexual services, videos that involve members of the National Action Party (PAN) in private parties, victims of gender- based violence, homophobia from members of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).
Torres-Miranda explains that with all this chauvinism and homophobia, there are days when she would like to stop her fight for women's rights:
[...] en serio, hay días que quiero rendirme. ¿De qué van todas estas declaraciones? ¿Cómo llegan estas personas a puestos públicos dónde deberían de garantizar y cuidar los Derechos Humanos? Hace unos meses platicaba con un asesor del congreso del estado y le decía que me encantaría poder hacer una iniciativa de ley donde se cuidara que cualquier persona, hombre o mujer, que llegase a ocupar un puesto dentro del servicio público debería demostrar estudios certificados de género y Derechos Humanos…me dijo que no era posible, que eso sería discriminar y entonces, inmediatamente me convertiría en eso que tanto me quejo… ¿entonces, cómo nos cuidamos de esto?
[...] really, there are days when I want to give up. What are all those statements about? How do those people get a public position, with which they should guarantee and take care of human rights? Some months ago, I was talking to a Congress consultant, and I told him I'd like to start a bill where everybody who gets appointed as a public servant should be able to produce certified studies of gender and human rights. He told me that wasn't possible, that would be discrimination and then I immediately would become what I complain about. Then, how do we protect ourselves from this?
And she expresses her doubts in the best possible way: putting them into writing.
You can follow Arely Torres-Miranda on Twitter.
In Mexico, the Day of the Dead is coming and this sets into motion, as every year, the game #ChirasPelasCalacasFlacas, that involves playing with marbles, an initiative by the organization El Caracol (the snail) that works to reduce the risks that lead to deaths of the homeless.
The homeless population in Mexico is affected by discrimination, that is reflected in the denial of health services, as in te case told by Luis Enrique Hernández about Susana, who died due to labor complications, “because she was denied medical by staff of Women's Hospital and Gregorio Salas Hospital. She died at four in the morning, outside the hospital.”
To talk about the risks of death and how to prevent them, promoters of Chiras Pelas Calacas Flacas visit groups of homeless people in Mexico City. They also documented cases of deaths people might remember and write obituaries about them to put on church altars. In 2009, the campaign was awarded a honorable mention at the UNICEF Awards 2009 for innovation and creativity in using Mexican traditions in promoting the right to life.
The organization invites everybody to join the campaign. You can download the obituary from http://bit.ly/1qYge7J. Print it with some of the names that appear and take it to your closest offering. Send a picture using #GritaMuerteCero (shout death zero).
Without medical professionals fluent in indigenous languages or without proper interpretation services in Mexican hospitals, there is a risk that patients will not be able to adequately describe what ails them, writes Yásnaya Aguilar in her regular blog column for EstePaís. She provides examples how the Mixe language allows her to more accurately describe her pain to a nurse or doctor that can speak the same language, and how a translation into Spanish can still be somewhat limiting. She writes,
En mixe por ejemplo tengo un conjunto de palabras distinto para nombrar el dolor físico: pëjkp, jäjp, pä’mp, we’tsp… Apenas hallo equivalentes para alguna en español. Las diferencias todavía son más grandes y hay momentos en los que sólo puedo describir un dolor en español o sólo alcanzo a nombrarlo en mixe. Hablar ambas lenguas me permite tener a mi servicio un inventario más nutrido de palabras para describir mi dolor, aunque en general, cuando algo me duele mucho, el mixe toma el control de mis pensamientos.
For example, in mixe I have a group of distinct words available to me to describe physical pain: pëjkp, jäjp, pä’mp, we’tsp. I'm barely able to find the equivalent words for these words in Spanish. The differences are very large and there are times when I can only describe the pain in Spanish and there are other times when I can only describe the pain in Mixe. Being able to speak both languages allows me to have at my disposal a richer inventory of words to describe my pain, although generally, when something is causing me a lot of pain, the Mixe language takes control of my thoughts.
The universal right to health care cannot be guaranteed when the majority of hospitals have no medical practitioners that speak indigenous languages and because interpretation can only go so far since they do not have the same knowledge of the human body. And she adds that this could potentially cause misdiagnoses and without these language services, “there is no way to build bridges of empathy and to effectively understand that your ‘it hurts’ could also be the same as mine.”
Mujeres construyendo (Women building) reports about the Campaign Beijing+20 de UN, a small contribution in the fight against gender-based violence. Violence against women isn't just about physical violence, but sexual and psychological violence as well.
According to data provided by UH Women, 120 million girls have been victims of sexual abuse, 700 million women were married while they were still young girls, and 4.5 million of the victims of sexual exploitation are women and girls. In the 21st century, violence against women is still a daily reality:
Esto no es vida, es el infierno. Mientras tú y yo estamos aquí leyendo este post, una niña o una mujer está siendo víctima de violencia en alguna de sus muchas formas, algunas sutiles, otras brutales, pero la realidad sigue siendo esa: la violencia prevalece.
This isn't life, this is hell. While you and me are here reading this post, a girl or a women is becoming victim of violence in one of its many forms, some are subtle, some others are brutal, but the reality remains: violence prevails.
What can we do to fight back?
First, be informed. Second, look for support and report the violence. Third, put pressure on our governments so they comply with laws that protect women. We should also educate younger generations within a culture of peace, put pressure on the media and politicians to raise awareness about this issue, and (why not?) produce our own content, using the digital tools we have at hand.
You can follow Mujeres Construyendo on Twitter.
Marita Seara Fernández, who blogs on Mujeres construyendo (Women building), calls for the empowerment of rural woman and explains that according to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 58 million women in Latin America and the Caribbean live in rural areas and 4 and a half million are farmers.
Meanwhile, Seara Fernández claims that although starvation has been reduced, it hasn't been so among women, where it has increased. FAO representative for the region Raúl Benítez stresses the need to empower women in economics and politics, which requires the educational gap and access to farming resources to be diminished. The solution is to stimulate rural women's empowerment:
Esta premisa debe estar considerada a la hora de diseñar leyes y programas determinados. Deben capacitarlas, enseñarlas a sacar provecho de sus recursos y de lo que aprenden. No solo esto, se debe reducir las brechas educacionales y tecnológicas.
This premise must be taken into account when designing laws and programs. They should train women, teach them to make the most out of their resources and what they learn. Not only this, educational and technoloigcal gaps must be reduced.
Thus, the efforts made by Soledad Venegas in Oxaca, México, aimed at empowering rural women throught the access to ICTs, represent an example, that allow access to knowledge about production mechanisms, business and commercial exchange and similar experiencies.
You can follow Marita Seara Fernández on Twitter.
Mujeres Construyendo (Women building) tries to raise awareness with a message mainly for women. Inequality between men and women is a fact, as confirmed by the Center of Economic Studies of Mexico, where we can see that, in terms of salaries, a woman earns 22% less, but this is just one of the problems they face.
In a short animated video they share on their Twitter account, we can see how two girls are talking, one trying to raise awareness to the other that her word is important and is as valid as anyone else's. At the end, the video gives a series of important messages:
Tu voz te da poder, te hace visible y presente. Tienes derecho a expresarte y a decir lo que piensas y sientes. El silencio es tu decisión, nadie te lo puede imponer.
Your voice gives you power, it makes you visible and present. You have the right to express yourself and to say what you think and feel. The silence is up to you, no one can impose it.
With this compelling message, the team of Mujeres Construyendo claims something that seems obvious in the 21st century, gender equality.
You can follow Mujeres Construyendo on Twitter.
Since the beginning of his term in late 2012, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has been committed to creating and broadcasting an image of a country moving forward. The government has enacted structural reforms with support from the opposition.
The government's strategy to deal with the country's security crisis, however, and the international community's human rights stance have been called into question following the disappearance of 43 students from the state of Guerrero.
Today, high-ranking US officials have not voiced concerns over the deteriorating events in Mexico since September 26th. The US response to human rights violations around the globe – including the recent events in Iguala – should be unambiguous and consistent. Silence is tantamount to complicity.
On September 19, 1985, the center, South and West regions of Mexico, in particular the Federal District, were struck by a powerful earthquake, considered the most lethal in Mexican written history. Conmemorating the event 29 year later, the Secretary for Civil Protection of Federal District organized an earthquake drill, for the population to know how to act in these events. The people participated massively, in the capital and in other cities of the country.
Realizamos con éxito el simulacro de evacuación por sismo, recordando el ocurrido en 1985, en la ciudad de México. pic.twitter.com/wQUM6h5Zpd
— UTTAB (@UTTAB) septiembre 19, 2014
We carried out successfully the evacuation due to earthquake, remembering what happened in 1985 in Mexico City.
— Metrópoli (@Univ_Metropoli) septiembre 19, 2014
An estimated of 17,000 buildings were evacuated during the drill.
— YUCATAN AL MINUTO (@YUCATANALMINUTO) septiembre 19, 2014
Rolando Zapata's Yucatán government has carried out historic drill in the Palace.
— Edgardo Garza (@egygarza) septiembre 19, 2014
Tlalnepantla joins the megaearthquake driill organized in the State of Mexico.
— Venancio Queupumil (@VQ_Cabrera) septiembre 19, 2014
The drill is not only to honor the victims of the earthquake, it's also about society vs bureaucracy.