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A Documentary That Allows Transgender People's Voices to Be Heard

Though gays and lesbians are gradually gaining more acceptance in Puerto Rico, the same cannot be said yet of transgender people. That is why a film like Mala Mala, a documentary in which trans people speak freely about their stories, is so important. The film, directed by Dan Sickles (@dan_sickles) and Antonio Santini, is on the official selection of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.

One of the people interviewed for the film is Paxx Moll, a chef who is also a transgender female-to-male. In an article published in La Respuesta, a digital magazine about the Puerto Rican diaspora, he talks to E. J. Dávila about who he is, his experience being part of the documentary, and about the lack of social and medical spaces for trans people in Puerto Rico, particularly for transgender men.

This is the teaser trailer for Mala Mala, which will premier in Puerto Rico in the coming months:

What We Take With Us

Tegucigalpa

Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Photo on Flickr by user chamo estudio (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

From Tegucigalpa, capital city of Honduras, Madame Gumbeaux tells she will return to live in the United States in a few weeks, and lists what she will miss… and other things she won't:

I will miss….
1. the guy on the motorbike who rides through the ‘hood twice a day, selling his mom's fresh tortillas. What could be better than hot-off-the-grill tortillas sold by a cute guy on a bike?
[...]
3. the sound of children everywhere. Honduras is a young country. Children playing ball, walking to and from school, calling out to one another is a constant in this place.
4. the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables on sale on street corners and parked trucks all over the city and countryside.
[...]

I WON'T miss…..
[...]
4. the loud music pouring out of every neighborhood, church, market, etc at any given hour, day or night. It may make Hondurans dance, but I get cranky when I am confronted with amplified music day and night.
5. the slooowwww service in almost every restaurant, supermarket, or store. No one, I mean no one, is in a hurry here. It's just so against my cultural upbringing.

What Democracy? Questioning Oscar López Rivera's Imprisonment in the United States

Puerto Rico's most widely circulated newspaper, El Nuevo Día, published an editorial [es] in its Sunday edition on June 1, 2014 in which it questions the moral standard of the United States’ government to intercede in favor of political prisoners around the world while insisting on unjustly maintaining Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera [es] incarcerated:

Habría que preguntarse cuál es el empecinamiento de un gobierno, el de Estados Unidos, que presume de sus acciones en favor de los presos politicos del mundo entero -en Ucrania, con Yulia Timoshenko; en China, con el artista Ai Weiwei; en Venezuela, con el opositor Leopoldo López; en Cuba, con el exprisionero Guillermo Fariñas, y hasta en Rusia con el grupo feminista punk “Pussy Riot”, – pero que en su propia casa mantiene sepultado a un puertorriqueño que, de 1986 a 1998, sufrió uno de los regímenes carcelarios más crueles que existen, el de confinamiento en solitaria en la prisión de Marion, Illinois.

[...]

El gobierno de Estados Unidos está moralmente impedido de interceder por ningún preso político, en ningún lugar del mundo, mientras continúe el presidente burlándose de la memoria de [Nelson] Mandela y violando los derechos civiles, políticos y el derecho a la libertad de Oscar.

We should ask ourselves about the stubbornness of a government, that of the United States, which boasts of its actions in favor of political prisoners around the entire world – in Ukraine with Yulia Timoshenko, in China with artist Ai Weiwei, in Venezuela with political candidate Leopoldo López, in Cuba with former prisoner Guillermo Fariñas, and even in Russia with feminist punk group “Pussy Riot” – but keeps a Puerto Rican who suffered one of the cruelest prison regimes that ever existed, from 1986 to 1998 in solitary confinement in a prison in Marion, Illinois.

[...]

The government of the United States is morally unable to advocate for any political prisoner anywhere in the world while the President continues to mock the memory of [Nelson] Mandela and violates Oscar's right to freedom as well as his civil and political rights.  

Guatemala: Ex President Portillo Sentenced to Five Years in Jail

With a historic rule by a federal court in New York on May 22, 2014, former Guatemalan president Alfonso Portillo was sentenced to five years and 10 months in jail for money laundering and taking bribes from Taiwan.

VIDEO: Alfonso Portillo gets verdict of five year and ten months of prison.

With this verdict, Portillo becomes the first former Latin American ruler to be condemned and jailed in the United States.

A 5-Minute Video Could Be Your Ticket to New York

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) invites young people under the age of 25 to submit original 5-minute videos on migration, diversity and social inclusion to the Plural+2014 film festival. Three winning videos will receive $1000 and the makers will be invited to New York City to attend an award ceremony.

The deadline is June 27, 2014.

“Racism is Not an Issue in Latin America” — Seriously?

In an opinion piece for the New York Times titled “Latin America's Talent for Tolerance,” Enrique Krauze proposes the notion that Latin America is less prone to racism:

[...] European-style racism — which not only mistreats and discriminates but also persecutes and, in the very worst cases, tries to exterminate others because of their ethnicity — has been the exception and not the rule in modern Latin America.

Krauze's opinion piece prompted blogger Julio Ricardo Varela to question the validity of his position in an article written for Latino Rebels:

At the beginning of the piece, Krauze starts with FIFA’s “Say No To Racism” campaign,”a message” that “was particularly directed toward the soccer stadiums of Europe, where there have been many instances of racial taunting and physical aggression by hostile fans against African and other black players.” Just a few sentences later, Krauze is quick to let us know that such racism doesn’t occur in the Americas: “the stadiums of Latin America have for the most part been free of this phenomenon, despite the fervent nationalism and fanaticism of the fans.” I am guessing that neither Krauze nor his Times editor did some actual fact-checking because in just five minutes, I was able to locate several examples of racism in Latin American stadiums.

After pointing out that so-called “European-style racism is what formed Latin America in the first place,” Varela concludes with these words:

When we as Latin Americans admit the truth and confront it head on, only then can real change occur. In the meantime, the literal whitewashing of Latin American history needs to be monitored and when it appears in mass media, we must all do our best to quickly call out this ignorant attitude. The only way to transform society is to ensure that we don’t allow certain opinions to become the standard. We can do better, and we will. One tweet at a time.

US and China's Strategic and Economic Dialogue

China File invited economist William Adams and Political Economy Professor from Peking University, Zha Daojiong, to comment on the upcoming high-level bilateral diplomatic exchange known as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue between the U.S. and China.

When Maya Angelou Lived in Egypt and Ghana

Sean Jacobs writes about American author and poet Maya Angelou, who died at age 86 yesterday May 28, 2014:

In 1961, Maya Angelou, already a civil rights worker, and her then partner Vusumzi Make, an exiled activist from South Africa (he was a leading Pan Africanist Congress member), moved to Cairo, Egypt, where she found work at a small radical newspaper. One year later, Angelou and Make broke up and she moved to Ghana with her son. There they joined a small, tight-knit expatriate African American community that included the great scholar and activist W. E. B. Du Bois, the writer William Gardner Smith, lawyer Pauli Murray, journalist Julian Mayfield, and sociologist St. Clair Drake. Angelou continued her work as a journalist and also worked as an administrator at the University of Ghana. Angelou made such an impression on her hosts honored her with a postal stamp. It was also during this time that Malcolm X visited Ghana; a meeting which prompted her move back to the US in 1965 to help Malcolm X build his Organization of Afro-American Unity. Shortly after her return, Malcolm X was assassinated.

Tips for Being a First World Country

Mexican Alfredo Cortés de Café Financiero reflects [es] after a trip to Canada about things and attitudes that in this country mean to belong to the “first world”:

I want to mention the simplest things I observed, that we all could accomplish; and as a whole this is what makes that countries such as Canada have very high standards of living. It all starts in its people, and if it all starts with us, why don't we start building a first world country?

The post reviewed here was part of the second #LunesDeBlogsGV [Monday of blogs on GV] on May 12, 2014.

French Economist Piketty Links Inequality to Instability of Democracies

French economist and Associate Chair at the Paris School of Economics, Thomas Piketty recently published a book called “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” that has generated quite a buzz among fellow economists and political leaders. Piketty's central thesis is that inequality is not an accident, but one of the consequences of the excess of capitalism. Piketty also opines that inequality could threaten the democratic process as recently seen in Greece. Critics of his thesis on inequality also abound

Increase in the annual income of the top 1% of wealthy persons in the U.S. before economic crises using data initially published as Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez (2003) on wikimedia commons CC-NC-3.0

Increase in the annual income of the top 1% of wealthy persons in the U.S. before economic crises using data initially published as Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez (2003) on wikimedia commons CC-NC-3.0

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