THINKMEXICAN

Your source for Mexican history, cultura, news and sports. An online community of artists, scholars and activists. From Chiapas to Chicago, we're connected! Editor: ChepeMX

Campesinos March for Land Rights in Mexico City

An estimated 50,000 campesinos and supporters turned out to march in Mexico City on Wednesday. Agricultural organizations from throughout Mexico attended.

Under the banner “The Countryside Is for All,” attendees marched in support of farmers, food sovereignty, Indigenous land rights, and against recent energy reforms that would allow for fracking and appropriation of farm lands.

Organizers were able to obtain a meeting with Interior Secretary Osorio Chong to discuss concerns.


Images via Aristegui Noticias, El Barzón

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This Day in Mexican History: Francisco “Pancho” Villa Assassinated


July 20 marks the anniversary of Mexican Revolution leader Pancho Villa’s 1923 assassination in Parral, Chihuahua by his political enemies.

Villa led several military campaigns, including one in Columbus, New Mexico. He’s remembered as a fierce patriot and a great military leader.

¡Villa Villa!

#panchovilla #josedoroteoarango #villavilla #elcentaurodelnorte #parralchihuahua #mexicanhistory #mexicanrevolution #thinkmexican

Mexicans Stand in Solidarity With Palestine, Call for Boycott of Israel

Chants of “We are all Gaza” and “Free Palestine” rang out at the doors of Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City on Sunday.

In repudiation of attacks on Gaza civilians, in particular those on children, and in an act of solidarity with the Palestinian people, activists gathered to call for a boycott and other sanctions of Israel.

Dozens of cities throughout the world held similar protests this weekend. Chile and Ecuador have cut diplomatic ties with Israel,

Several news sources are reporting 469 Palestinians have been killed in this latest Israeli offensive, almost all civilians, and many of them children.

#gaza #gazaunderattack #boycottisrael #vivapalestina #freepalestine #thinkmexican

Dr. Mireles: Autodefensa Leader, Political Prisoner

Dr. José Manuel Mireles is a medical doctor who in February 2013 become part of an armed civil self-defense group most commonly known as the ‘Autodefensas of Michoacán.’

He’s currently incarcerated in a federal maximum security prison in Sonora for charges many consider fabricated by those in the government seeking to discredit him.

Dr. Mireles is a political prisoner being punished for exposing the government’s connection to organized crime. Groups throughout Mexico, the United States, Canada and Europe have rallied to his support, and are demanding his immediate release.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

#liberenamireles #autodefensas #epn #hijosdelatuta #michoacan #thinkmexican

“This May Not Be Our Country, But It Has Always Been Our Land”

Protest sign seen Wednesday in San Diego at a demonstration in solidarity with child migrants and their families. In the spirit of Yolanda López, Gloria Anzaldúa, and many more, its truth is powerful and undeniable.

“We want to be the voice of all these children. With their situation, their rights are violated by the government. We ask that they be treated with dignity and respect, to be provided with legal assistance in order to be legally represented,” reads a statement posted by one of the demonstration’s organizers.

Thanks to Kim Moore for sharing her photo with us.

Mexicans in U.S. and Canada Protest Arrest of Self-Defense Leader, José Manuel Mireles

Mexicans living in the United States and Canada are calling for the release of Michoacán self-defense group leader and spokesperson, José Manuel Mireles. Demonstrations in Arizona, California, New York and Vancouver have taken place over the fourth of July weekend.

José Gil, Proceso Magazine writer, says the following about Mireles:

"José Manuel Mireles has proven an inspirational figure to towns in Michoacán and other states trying to build their own self-defense groups. This is what is most frightening to the federal government since there has not been any substantive progress in the fight against insecurity and violence in México. Meanwhile, Peña Nieto continues Calderón’s war on drugs."

The self-defense groups are referred to as ‘autodefensas' in Spanish. An 'autodefensa' is a member of a 'self-defense force'; these are community police organizations enforcing the Mexican constitution at the municipality and state level. The rise of autodefensas has attracted the attention of the Mexican military, and, by extension, the U.S. military too. According to his lawyer, Mireles was tortured. Others also allege Mireles was arrested because he did not collaborate with the dominant political parties in the region, the PRI and the PAN.

The United States has provided training to the Mexican military and police under Plan Merida. This training includes interrogation techniques often referred to as torture. The discovery of Project Gunrunner also provides incontrovertible proof of American weapons making their way to drug traffickers via U.S. authorities. High caliber hardware - the type of weapons provided to the Mexican military under Plan Merida - has also shown up in crime scenes linked to narco-trafficking.

July 4, 2014, New York City, New York

July 5, 2014 Vancouver, British Columbia

July 4, 2014, San Jose, California

July 4, 2014, Phoenix, Arizona

This story was originally published in LaCartita.com

Latino: the Manufactured Super Consumer

How corporations and government use consumerism and false identities to subvert Mexicans

by Ricardo Lezama

I. Who promotes the term ‘Latino’ and why?

'Latino' is a marketing term used to subsume Mexicans into other Spanish speaking identities in the United States. While individuals may have their own intuitions about its use, beliefs about empowerment and potential arguments for needing the term, from a marketing perspective, the term 'Latino' is a way for corporations to simplify their relationship with a demographic of consumers. Thus, adopting 'Latino' uncritically as an identity is inherently questionable when so many marketers and corporations have been involved in defining the culture and ideology entailed by the term.

The U.S. media use the term ‘Latino’ to dissociate individuals from their national and ethnic identity and connect them to the consumer market. This allows the U.S. to intervene in these countries without suffering the consequences of domestic protest. They drive them away from political interests and into frivolous consumerist goals.

From an economic standpoint, this makes perfect sense. If you work at a large multi-national marketing firm, you want to reduce your target audience to as simple of an entity in order to hone your marketing and product development strategy. There is great incentive to do so, as this Forbes article notes:

"The emergence of Hispanics as a consumer force is growing rapidly, with a purchasing power expected to reach $1.5 trillion dollars in 2015. Dubbed ‘super consumers’ Latinos in the U.S. are blowing past the mainstream and other minority groups in this regard."

and

"Hispanic online and mobile usage is among the highest of any group and continues to increase faster than the general marketplace."

The term Latino implies dollar signs, not a political struggle. Marketers and businesses (an advertiser’s actual customer) use the term to reduce the various complex identities from Latin America in the United States to their most basic similarity: not white and Spanish speaking. The rest, from their perspective, is very irrelevant. If people believe they are ‘Latino,’ then the only problem left for advertisers is refining and expanding the definition so that it better resembles an actual cultural identity.

II. Passive Populations Make Military Intervention Easier for the U.S. Government

U.S. foreign policy in México depends on the Mexican community constantly being on the defensive, confused and complacent with whatever ill-will the government directly and indirectly expresses towards them. In order for U.S. foreign policy to work in México, Mexicans in the United States must dissociate themselves from the political process in México. ‘Latino’ becomes a very useful term in this context. Mexicans are encouraged to just shut up and work towards becoming passive ‘Latinos’ in the United States. This helps Chicanos avoid the ‘cognitive dissonance’ whenever they attempt to make sense of the hostility directed at them. It makes life easy for Mexicans who wish to ‘just get by,’ not think about complex things and make a little money.

For instance, we can view Hilary Clinton’s statement to Greta Van Susteren as a direct attack on our community: “just because your child gets across the border doesn’t mean your child gets to stay” is a very clear message of animosity towards the Mexican community. Why are we not all protesting her statements? What other community has had its history banned in an American state? Just Mexicans in recent memory.

Why is this policy of constant deportation so vehemently pursued by government officials? Perhaps, the government wishes to use the Mexican community as a scapegoat to explain the terrible state of the economy. This was partially made possible because there has been no significant pushback too. Chicanos, as a whole, have been very busy being neutral through being ‘Latino.’

My point is that while some Chicanos were busy being ‘Latino,’ the U.S. government was busy being itself and shipped weapons to undemocratic right wing paramilitary, gave training to the Mexican military and fixed the Caldéron and Peña Nieto elections in México.

The U.S. government would like to reassert territorial dominance over the U.S. southwest and northern México. That is basically what border enforcement and SB-1070 are about. The economic and social fragmentation of Mexican migrants in the United States is not an accident, and has real consequences. For example, most second generation Mexicans are completely ignorant of politics in México and embrace this ignorance as a sign of Americanism. These people often call themselves ‘Latino’ before they call themselves ‘Mexican’ in order to avoid conflict with non-Chicanos. Chicanos now have to deal with the psychological blow of our own people asserting their legal status, inability to speak Spanish and preference for American culture as symbols of their legitimacy. The fact that half of the United States was formerly México is lost in this confusion.

The fear created by the U.S. government’s divide and conquer strategy has served them well. Plan Merida has been virtually unopposed in the United States. Most Chicanos (even those who are educated) do not know the full scale of military intervention in México orchestrated by the United States. Many Chicanos still think Mexican cartels are the most guilty of the harm done to México during the peak years of the “Drug War.” What they do not know is that the United States sent military hardware, personnel and money to the Mexican government. These resources were then turned against activists, the EZLN and also found their ways into preferred drug traffickers.

In other words, the term ‘Latino’ not only turns Raza into consumers, but also into unwilling collaborators with the state. Our acquiescence and ignorance of U.S. foreign policy is a direct consequence with identifying with the word ‘Latino.’ When Chicanos don’t identify with the nationality of Mexican, we stop caring about the political processes that we could positively influence. We forget that we can have two countries instead of none.

The fact that the government and corporations benefit from Mexicans self-identifying with the term ‘Latino’ does not answer why ‘Latino’ is so constantly used by our people. At an emotional level, I think the term ‘Latino’ gives some of us a superficial sense of belonging to a larger community. Somehow people forget - or never learn - the specific history between them and the United States. The term ‘Latino’ helps solidify that ignorance, because it prevents us from grasping a historically grounded reality. The term ‘Latino’ unifies us in the wrong way; it unifies us through collective ignorance of our own individual history.

This article was originally published at La Cartita

Ricardo Lezama is a linguist from Santa Ana, California. He also works as a software engineer at a tech company, and is the founder of LaCartita.com

World Cup Chronicles: My Trip to Brazil 2014

Mexico vs. Cameroon:
June 13, 2014
Final score: MEX 1-0 CMR

It rained all day long, we made our way to the stadium and were drenched by the time we got inside. We sat in our seats and knew we were in for a good time when the two sombrero wearing guys next to us looked at my friend’s Rafa Marquez jersey and yelled out at the top of his lungs, “¡León, bicampeón!”

The stadium quickly filled up, but not to capacity as the many ticket scalpers outside the gates and online prevented it from doing so. Side note: some scalpers were giving the tickets away or trading them for beer minutes before the game.

Once the teams came out of the tunnel and the anthems started playing the crowd went wild. We were in for a very intense game. We celebrated each of the two Mexican goals that were incorrectly disallowed. The crowd burst out into an roar of “boos” and “culero” chants directed at the ref. When Oribe scored the goal that actually counted, we jumped up and down and hugged the people around us, it was incredible, Not the rain or the ref were able to break the spirit of the fans. The first game was a good indicator of what we could expect from both the team and the fans.

Mexico vs. Brazil:
June 17, 2014
Final score: MEX 0-0 BRA

We didn’t go to the stadium for today’s game, we went to Fan Fest. There were very few Mexicans there, it was mainly all Brazilians. We wore our jerseys and as we would walk by, the Brazilians would say, “Brazil 3-1” or “2-1.” After the game they didn’t seem mad, they really, really like Mexicans. They say we’re happy fun people.

The 0-0 draw in Fortaleza was the best possible outcome for the well being of all the Mexicans that were in Brazil. Brazilians absolutely love Mexicans, they say we are a happy people, and each time they see a few pass by they cheer. It’s really cool. Had we won I’m not sure that would have continued (I of course would have preferred a win).

The night of the game it was pure celebration, there was a strong bond between both teams. It was us versus Croatia and Cameroon. It was all positive except that a couple of Mexicans we met were mugged at gun point. They were walking through some obscure street and their bags were stolen. The next day there was a lot more police presence, so I’m assuming they were not the only victims. By the second day after the game, most Mexicans were gone. We stayed behind to see the Germany vs. Ghana game.

Mexico vs. Croatia:
June 23, 2014
Final score: MEX 3-1 CRO

The day before the game there was a street party outside of the Fan Fest. They had a DJ and vendors selling alcohol. There were a ton of Mexicans there including a mariachi. There were a couple of Croatians there too, although both groups were talking crap about each other’s teams, it was all in good fun. The Croatians were taking pictures with sombreros and the vibe was light.

The next day was pretty incredible. We had to take the subway to get to the stadium and each subway cart was jammed packed with Mexicans in all the traditional getups. Two guys carrying a massive speaker showed up and started playing Chente, and of course everyone sang along; it was surreal.

At the stadium, we personally didn’t see any fights between Mexicans and Croatians. We were all just screaming our lungs out cheering on Mexico. In our seating area we were surrounded by other Mexican Americans, so we would cheer in Spanish and discuss the game in English. A few rows in front of us there was a Brazilian watching the Brazil vs. Cameroon game on his phone, so each time Brazil would score, he would get up and inform everyone. The Brazilians in the stadium would start singing, “Eu sou brasileiro, com muito orgulho, com muito amor.”

Of course, everyone went crazy when Mexico started to score, and when we won. After the game people gathered under the tunnels and were jumping up and down chanting “ole, ole, ole” and singing “Cielito Lindo” over and over again. And, of course, “Holanda va a probar el chile nacional.”

One of the coolest things that happened was that on the way back to the metro station we saw fireworks and bonfires everywhere. Brazilians were celebrating that they too had advanced. Then when we arrived at the metro station, and there were a ton of Brazilians waiting and screaming for Mexico. It made us feel like the actual players walking through the tunnel. It was pretty incredible.

Mexico vs. Netherlands:
June 29, 2014
Final score: MEX 1-2 NED

We watched the game today at the Fan Fest. It’s hard to talk about because the loss is so recent; we’re pretty devastated.

There were mainly Brazilians and Mexicans, but there was a good number of Netherlands supporters in their bright orange kits. I think almost all of the Brazilians were on Mexico’s side, and there were even some Argentina fans chanting for Mexico (thought it was odd, perhaps they just wanted someone to get rid of Netherlands). After the game the Brazilian’s shook our hand and told us we were robbed. It was nice of them. We left as soon as possible as we were borderline in tears and didn’t want to see the Dutch celebrating.

This story was submitted by Isabel Navarro, a football enthusiast and recent graduate (master’s in screenwriting). Follow her at Twitter for more on the beautiful game.

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Cuauhtláhuac Defeats Hernán Cortés in Night of Victory

Attempting to escape Tenochtitlan under the cover of night, Hernán Cortés and his men were soundly defeated on June 30, 1520, by Tlatoani Cuauhtláhuac, leader of the Mexica.

An estimated 1,000 Spanish soldiers and 4,000 Tlaxcalteca allies were killed by Mexica warriors who planned the attack in defense of their nation for weeks under Cuauhtláhuac’s command.

Cortés and his men were weighed down by hundreds of pounds of stolen gold. Many of them drowned in the causeways leading out of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City.

Cuauhtláhuac and millions of others died of smallpox soon after. Cortés, who barely escaped alive, made it to Tlaxcala where he plotted his return to Tenochtitlan.

Image via Alex Noble

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(Source: thinkmexican)

My Stole Will Say I’m Proud of My Cultura

A few weeks ago, my younger sister became the first in our family to graduate from college. Months prior to her graduation, she was invited by the Chican@ organization at her university to partake in a commencement ceremony, where students would be acknowledged for their scholarship.

She, however, respectfully declined participation.

Declining the invitation also meant declining to wear what is commonly referred to as a “serape sash” or a Mexican graduation stole. When I asked her why she declined, she stated she did not want to be recognized solely due to her Mexican heritage. Rather, she wanted to accept her diploma as most were doing — without the serape sash.

It broke my heart because to me, wearing the serape sash is a way of letting my family and peers know that I am not ashamed of my cultura. I don’t view the sash as a marker of “otherness” or representative of a statistic. To me, the sash places an emphasis on the positive. It is colorful, bright and beautiful, and more importantly, a salient part of the American multicultural mosaic.

My cultura will not be left behind and it will not end with my parents, which is why I will proudly don the serape sash when my time to walk across the stage, and claim my diploma, comes.

I hope many other chose to do the same.


Submitted by Gabriela Ivonne, an anthropology student and former intern at Al Jazeera English.

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Photo credit: Dr. Raquel Núñez