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Mexico: Chauvinism and Homophobia in Political Parties

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.

This post was part of the 27th #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 3, 2014.

A Game of Marbles to Prevent Homeless Deaths

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Image from El Caracol profile on Facebook

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.

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Game of marbles, data registry and reflections about death risks. Photo from El Caracol's profile on Facebook.

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).

Describing Pain in Hospitals Without Indigenous Language Services

Mexico

Image on flickr by user Buen Rumbo ((CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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.”

An Election Film Week in Lebanon to Say #NoToExtension of Parliament Term

What better than the seventh art to mobilize? In another effort to push for Elections in Lebanon and prevent an extension of the Parliamentary term #NoToExtension, Lebanese NGO Nahwa Al Muwatiniya (meaning Towards Citizenship) held an “Election Film Week”.

Six works from Chile, Iran, China, Ghana and the US, varying between documentaries and fiction are being screened between August 28 to September 2 at Cinema Metropolis (a theater promoting indie movies)  in collaboration with the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE).

On the Facebook Page of the event, where the programme is listed, the organisers note:

We have been struggling with a fragile democracy in Lebanon, ever since its independence. Today, more than in the darkest days of the civil war, the foundations of our democracy are at risk. But we’re not alone in this. The world is full of stories about the human struggle for self-determination and democratic participation. Broadening our perspective serves our effort to improve the quality of the political system in Lebanon. 

The films we picked share stories from different countries, all which portray the election process. Collectively, they reveal a combination of human values and ideals and the efforts politicians make to win an election.

To see a glimpse of the movies, check out the trailer posted on Nahwa Al Muwatiniya Youtube Page.

The current parliament extended its four-year stay for the first time in May 2013. And like a year before, various parties are supporting the move this time around under the pretext of security conditions.

The end of the parliamentary term comes amidst a period of turmoil in Lebanon. The country has lacked a president since May 25 after parliament failed to elect a new head of state and top officials could not reach political consensus. A general strike by syndicates demanding to approve a new enhanced wage scale for civil servants has threatened to paralyze the entire country. Lebanon has experience instability on both Syrian and Israeli borders after soldiers were kidnapped by members of Islamic militant organization ISIS.

Reflections After 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014

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Image from Flickr, with CC license.

Mexican student Álvaro blogs about his sentiments and opinions about 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. He reflects on the poor performance of Mexico and Brazil national teams, but highlights what he considers a strategy failure of Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff.

Días antes del comienzo del mundial, Dilma se imaginaba este lunes 14 de Julio como el día en que ganaría anticipadamente las elecciones presidenciales de octubre, un Brasil campeón en su tierra hubiera sido suficiente para sofocar las protestas civiles que se han alzado en contra de su gobierno, o al menos hubiera logrado distraerlas por un rato.[...] Sin embargo, es evidente que el plan no salió según lo esperado, sino todo lo contrario; de manera similar a lo ocurrido en Sochi, Rusia para las Olimpiadas de Invierno, el enfoque mundial sobre Brasil solo sirvió para exponer los graves problemas que enfrenta el país en todo ámbito. No hubo escasez de reportes de la prensa internacional sobre el mal estado de las calles, las acomodaciones, la gente y hasta los estadios, mismos que se derrumbaron o que ni siquiera pudieron terminarse antes del evento.

Just days before the World Cup started, Dilma was imagining this Monday, July 14 as the day she would win in advance the Octobre presidential election, with Brazil champion on its own land would suffice to calm down the civliian protests against her administration, or at least, it would be useful as a distraction for a while. [...] However, it's evident that didn't work as expected, but on the contrary; just as it happened in Sochi, Russia for the Winter Olympic Games. The world approach to Brazil only exposed the serious problems the country faces. There were many reports by international press about the bad roads, accommodations, people and even stadiums, that collapsed or weren't even completed before the tournament.

You can follow Álvaro on his Twitter account.

Your Voice Counts, Don't Be Silent

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.

 This post was part of the twenty-sixth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on October 27, 2014.

Mexico in the Labyrinth of Its Solitude

15,000 people marched in downtown Mexico City against the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa. Photo taken on 8 October 2014 by Enrique Perez Huerta. Copyright: Demotix

Protest in Mexico City for the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa. Image by Enrique Perez Huerta. October 8, 2014. Copyright Demotix.

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.

Miguel Guevara, Global Voices contributor, has written a piece for the blog of Harvard Kennedy School Review titled Mexico’s Loneliness: Our drug wars are not over:

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.

Massive Participation in Earthquake Drill in Mexico

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.

We carried out successfully the evacuation due to earthquake, remembering what happened in 1985 in Mexico City.

An estimated of 17,000 buildings were evacuated during the drill.

Rolando Zapata's Yucatán government has carried out historic drill in the Palace.

Tlalnepantla joins the megaearthquake driill organized in the State of Mexico.

The drill is not only to honor the victims of the earthquake, it's also about society vs bureaucracy.

Mexican Cartoonist Compares James Foley's Execution with Presidential Interview

Flowers laid for American journalist James Foley - Arlington

Flowers laid for American journalist James Foley, Arlington Cemetery. Photo by Cynthia Rucker. Copyright Demotix (20 August 2014).

On August 21, Mexican cartoonist Francisco Calderón raised controversy after publishing on his daily cartoon section on Grupo Reforma, an image depicting president Enrique Peña Nieto wearing an orange jumpsuit and kneeling down in front of a masked executioner. The image is a clear reference to the brutal murder of reporter James Foley in Syria, on August 19, by the jihadist group Islamic State that was later published on video as a warning to the United States.

Thursday August 21, 2014 THE INTERVIEW THE ALL THE TERNURITAS WOULD'VE LOVED.

The title of the cartoon plays with the idea that an execution like the suffered by Foley would have been the kind of “interview” the “ternuritas” (cuties) would've loved. Ternurita is the name some people use for Peña Nieto government opponents.

Some Twitter users reacted to the cartoon:

Your cartoon is a total disrespect to the life of James Foley. Let's hope it's just your ignorance.

Because being firm when questioning is the same thing that beheading. Right, right winger cartoonist?

It's a shame that Francisco Calderon makes a cartoon with a beheading. Will he make one about dead children in Gaza?

Only Mexico can gather the necessary dose of insensitivity and numbskullness to make fun of James Foley's death.

The Maya Nut, a Nature Giant

In the Guatemalan department of Petén, a group of local women market natural products prepared with Maya nut, well known as natural medicine. The president of the producer association, Benedicta Galicia Ramírez, notes they “pick up the seed and then dry it, toast and grind it to make fluor”, and that the Maya nut enhances children growth, with food values higher than maize, beans, cassava and plantain.

This species grows in many American countries, from Mexico to Peru, and is very appreciated for its medicinal and nutritious attributes:

Video: Here we introduce the project “Selva Viva”, by a group of women who produce food items from the Maya nut tree.

Here, the consumption of the Maya nut seed gets promoted.

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