Monday, May 22, 2017


Veronica Cruz Sanchez, born in Guanajato, is a Mexican human rights activist, famous for leading the fight against the disenfranchisement of indigenous women of Mexico, who was also the first Mexican human rights activist to have been awarded by the Human Rights Watch, an international organization that advocates for human rights.

An advocate for bodily autonomy, Sanchez created the organization "Las Libres" to support women who seek abortions who are otherwise attacked by family, friends, and even their government. Furthermore, one of Las Libres' main objectives is to eliminate the stigma that surrounds the freedom of choice, an issue that causes a lot of women to be ostracized in the heavily-patriarchal society of Mexico.

Researching about Veronica Cruz Sanchez had me thinking about the last question in our prompt, which was to think about what these activists are doing in their own countries to combat the problem his blog is focusing on.

Las Libres has a link for donations in their website, which is one of the ways in which we can support this cause.  We can also support independent content creators, like El Pulso de la Republica, by viewing their features and following them on social media, which increases their credibility and revenue (which has already been a success for Chumel Torres, who now, alongside YouTube, has his a show on HBO); and we can also support the printed press, by subscribing to Mexican news sources we feel are honest about their findings.

With a country as--in my opinion--corrupt, disenfranchised, and violent for the vast majority of its people as Mexico, we have a long way to go in terms of fixing our many problems; however, we can all collectively support the millions of oppressed people by amplifying their voices and giving them platforms to speak, express themselves, and ask for what they need.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Similarly to Chumel Torres, Carmen Aristegui is a no-holds-barred Mexican journalist who has been openly critical of the Mexican government, despite the dangerous side to this profession.

A prominent name in the Mexican media, Aristegui is known for being honest and frank about the state of affairs in Mexico, and reporting on elected officials' corruption and hidden affairs.

She was also one of the leading voices in reporting the Lydia Cacho case against Puebla governor Mario Marín.

She has her own show on CNN en Español, which has the same impact as Chumel Torres' "El Pulso de la Republica" and Jorge Ramos's "America with Jorge Ramos": because of their contributions, Mexicans have the assurance that they are receiving honest news.  Aristegui has said in interviews that she is not afraid to be persecuted by the government or by the cartels, because the country deserves to be told the truth.

Despite being hit many times with carried-out threats of censorship, Carmen Aristegui continues to be the voice of millions of oppressed Mexicans across the country.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Lydia Cacho is a Mexican journalist, outspoken about her support for feminism and human rights, who, in 2004, published a book titled Los demonios del Edén (or, "the demons of Eden"), which she wrote with the aim of revealing the heavily covered-up problem of child prostitution and pornography in Mexico. 

The impact of Los demonios del Edén was wide: through her research, Cacho found that hotelier Jean Succar Kuri, based in Cancún, Mexico, was associated in a sexual exploitation ring along with Kamel Nacif Borge, another hotelier based in Puebla.  Because of her exposé, Kuri was sentenced to 112 years in prison.  Additionally, Los demonios also unexpectedly exposed yet another corrupt politician, Puebla governor Mario Marín, who was caught on tape negotiating with Kamel Nacif Borge about placing Cacho in jail for defaming Borge's name, mentioning that perhaps it should be arranged that Cacho be abused to silence her.   

This was not the first time Cacho was verbally or physically abused, and it was because of these traumatic events that she is so passionate about defending battered women all around the world.

Lydia Cacho took this case to the Supreme Court in 2007, and she consequently became the first woman took testify there.

The book become a documentary, three years later:

Monday, May 15, 2017


Jose Manuel "Chumel" Torres has been called Mexico's response to Jon Stewart, which is fitting, considering it was Stewart's "The Daily Show" that inspired him to start his webshow, "El Pulso de la República".

Translating to "the pulse of the republic", El Pulso is a YouTube webseries in which Torres reports on world news--although he focuses most on that of Mexico--to his near-two million subscribers, using humor and colloquial speech to make the news accessible and understandable.

Torres was very vocal during the 2016 Presidential election of the United States, supporting Bernie Sanders (although he expressed he didn't believe Americans were united enough to bring him to victory) and rejecting Trump's racist comments about Mexico every time they arose.

Chumel's "El Pulso de la Republica" is such a vital part to the Mexican media, envied by many journalists on TV, because of this platform:

It is no secret that being a journalist in Mexico is one of the most dangerous professions, considering the threat of corrupt politicians or active drug cartels, and while Torres has expressed his fear of pushing his boundaries, it is through his YouTube channel that many Mexicans, and many viewers around the world, can listen to the news without fear of any hidden agendas.


Unfortunately, the cultural disenfranchisement of women is not a thing solely reserved for Mexico: it is also a severe problem in many countries around the world, where women experience emotional, physical, and sexual violence, some on a daily basis.

In 2013, Taproot India, an ad agency (now called Dentsu India), created a series of images in collaboration with Save Our Sisters, an organization created with the intention to raise awareness to and stop sex-trafficking around the world.  Through these images, they aspired to bring to light the increasing problem of physical violence against the women of India.

The images were created by photographing models painted as hyperrealistic versions of goddesses of Hinduism, like Lakshmi and Durga, with visible wounds and bruises on their faces and body.  The reason the Hindu goddesses were chosen to depict the increasing problem of physical violence in India was because the ad agency noticed there was a large contradiction in the culture and religion, that which is meant to revere women, but treats them violently in real life.

These images are so impactful because they have the power to be far-reaching, as well as increasing the visibility of women who are suffering, but have no voice to do so, a problem that reaches even wider that simply Mexico or India.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


Juan Felipe Herrera was named the Poet Laureate in 2015, and actually graduated from San Diego High School. He frequently references Logan Heights in his work. 

I was very drawn to Juan Felipe Herrera's work because of the unapologetic celebration of Latino-ness in his work.  There is an energy in his writing, and in the way that he reads his poetry, that makes his texts accessible to Latinos and people everywhere who are interested in learning about the struggle about being Mexican in the United States.

I particularly loved his poem "187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border", a poem that combines humor and various cultural reference to explain the difficulties in crossing the United States border, or simply existing in the United States as a Latino at all.


I felt very connected to all the cultural texts we read this semester that had to do with Mexico: it's not very common that my country is part of the required reading in a literature course.  I was especially delighted to find a woman's perspective on the patriarchal culture that weaves the country together. 

It's most refreshingly analyzed in Gloria Anzaldúa's "Movimientos de rebeldía y las culturas que traicionan", an essay on being a LGBT woman in the very macho-praising culture of Mexico.

Anzaldúa writes about the disappointment her family feels towards her, about how her family does not even consider her, now that she does not follow society's expectations of a Mexican young lady. 
"Me costó muy caro mi rebeldía—acalambrada con desvelos y dudas, sintiéndome inútil, estúpida e impotente."
Gloria Anzaldúa's texts in particular excited me, because I felt represented and validated in my disappointment with Mexico's tendencies to silence, berate, and be violent towards its women.  I particularly enjoyed the imagery Anzaldúa used throughout her works, to express her growing anger ("...debajo de mi humillada mirada está una cara insolente lista para explotar...") and to show how she defies the parts of her culture that she does not want to practice ("...Ya no soló paso toda mi vida botando las costumbres y los valores de mi cultura que me traicionan. También recojo las costumbres que por el tiempo se han provado y las costumbres de respeto a las mujeres...")

 Something I also enjoyed about reading Gloria Anzaldúa is how accessible she is. Without having to rely on archaic language to prove that she is worth listening to, she instead uses the power of her cause to shine through, even blending two of her languages, English and Spanish, to create a stronger argument.

Saturday, May 13, 2017


Corky Gonzales' poem "I am Joaquin" is one of the most famous Chicano movement poems, describing the titular character's experience while living in the United States, as well as the collective experience of all Chicanos, who experience discrimination and feelings of unwelcome while in the United States.  The poem also narrates a brief history of the revolutionary spirit in Mexico, making references to prominent figures in Mexico's backstory, like Diego Rivera, Emiliano Zapata, Miguel Hidalgo, and Francisco I. Madero.

The poem uses words such as "scorned", "nowhere", "monstrous", and "unwillingly" to convey a tone of disappointment and negativity, and to describe the desperation many latinos feel, caught between two cultures: their home, and the one that refuses to accept them, in the United States.

My favorite line in the poem is: "I must choose between the paradox of / victory of the spirit, despite physical hunger, / or to exist in the grasp of American social neurosis, / sterilization of the soul and a full stomach", because it perfectly describes the aforementioned feeling, one that is perhaps felt by most Chicanos, that of feeling unaccepted by White America, while also being rejected by one's original culture.

I also felt the use of both the English and Spanish language to be powerful in this poem,

I Am Joaquin
Yo soy Joaquín,
perdido en un mundo de confusión:
I am Joaquín, lost in a world of confusion,
caught up in the whirl of a gringo society,
confused by the rules, scorned by attitudes,
suppressed by manipulation, and destroyed by modern society.
My fathers have lost the economic battle
and won the struggle of cultural survival.
And now! I must choose between the paradox of
victory of the spirit, despite physical hunger,
or to exist in the grasp of American social neurosis,
sterilization of the soul and a full stomach.
Yes, I have come a long way to nowhere,
unwillingly dragged by that monstrous, technical,
industrial giant called Progress and Anglo success....
I look at myself.
I watch my brothers.
I shed tears of sorrow. I sow seeds of hate.
I withdraw to the safety within the circle of life --
I am Cuauhtémoc, proud and noble,
leader of men, king of an empire civilized
beyond the dreams of the gachupín Cortés,
who also is the blood, the image of myself.
I am the Maya prince.
I am Nezahualcóyotl, great leader of the Chichimecas.
I am the sword and flame of Cortes the despot
And I am the eagle and serpent of the Aztec civilization.
I owned the land as far as the eye
could see under the Crown of Spain,
and I toiled on my Earth and gave my Indian sweat and blood
for the Spanish master who ruled with tyranny over man and
beast and all that he could trample
I was both tyrant and slave.
As the Christian church took its place in God's name,
to take and use my virgin strength and trusting faith,
the priests, both good and bad, took--
but gave a lasting truth that Spaniard Indian Mestizo
were all God's children.
And from these words grew men who prayed and fought
for their own worth as human beings, for that
I was part in blood and spirit of that courageous village priest
Hidalgo who in the year eighteen hundred and ten
rang the bell of independence and gave out that lasting cry--
El Grito de Dolores
"Que mueran los gachupines y que viva la Virgen de Guadalupe...."
I sentenced him who was me I excommunicated him, my blood.
I drove him from the pulpit to lead a bloody revolution for him and me....
I killed him.
His head, which is mine and of all those
who have come this way,
I placed on that fortress wall
to wait for independence. Morelos! Matamoros! Guerrero!
all companeros in the act, STOOD AGAINST THAT WALL OF INFAMY
to feel the hot gouge of lead which my hands made.
I died with them ... I lived with them .... I lived to see our country free.
Free from Spanish rule in eighteen-hundred-twenty-one.
Mexico was free??
The crown was gone but all its parasites remained,
and ruled, and taught, with gun and flame and mystic power.
I worked, I sweated, I bled, I prayed,
and waited silently for life to begin again.
I fought and died for Don Benito Juarez, guardian of the Constitution.
I was he on dusty roads on barren land as he protected his archives
as Moses did his sacraments.
He held his Mexico in his hand on
the most desolate and remote ground which was his country.
And this giant little Zapotec gave not one palm's breadth
of his country's land to kings or monarchs or presidents of foriegn powers.
I am Joaquin.
I rode with Pancho Villa,
crude and warm, a tornado at full strength,
nourished and inspired by the passion and the fire of all his earthy people.
I am Emiliano Zapata.
"This land, this earth is OURS."
The villages, the mountains, the streams
belong to Zapatistas.
Our life or yours is the only trade for soft brown earth and maize.
All of which is our reward,
a creed that formed a constitution
for all who dare live free!
"This land is ours . . .
Father, I give it back to you.
Mexico must be free. . . ."
I ride with revolutionists
against myself.
I am the Rurales,
coarse and brutal,
I am the mountian Indian,
superior over all.
The thundering hoof beats are my horses. The chattering machine guns
are death to all of me:
I have been the bloody revolution,
The victor,
The vanquished.
I have killed
And been killed.
I am the despots Díaz
And Huerta
And the apostle of democracy,
Francisco Madero.
I am
The black-shawled
Who die with me
Or live
Depending on the time and place.
I am faithful, humble Juan Diego,
The Virgin of Guadalupe,
Tonantzín, Aztec goddess, too.
I rode the mountains of San Joaquín.
I rode east and north
As far as the Rocky Mountains,
All men feared the guns of
Joaquín Murrieta.
I killed those men who dared
To steal my mine,
Who raped and killed my love
My wife.
Then I killed to stay alive.
I was Elfego Baca,
living my nine lives fully.
I was the Espinoza brothers
of the Valle de San Luis.
All were added to the number of heads that in the name of civilization
were placed on the wall of independence, heads of brave men
who died for cause or principle, good or bad.
Hidalgo! Zapata!
Murrieta! Espinozas!
Are but a few.
They dared to face
The force of tyranny
Of men who rule by deception and hypocrisy.
I stand here looking back,
And now I see the present,
And still I am a campesino,
I am the fat political coyote–
Of the same name,
In a country that has wiped out
All my history,
Stifled all my pride,
In a country that has placed a
Different weight of indignity upon my age-old burdened back.
Inferiority is the new load . . . .
The Indian has endured and still
Emerged the winner,
The Mestizo must yet overcome,
And the gachupín will just ignore.
I look at myself
And see part of me
Who rejects my father and my mother
And dissolves into the melting pot
To disappear in shame.
I sometimes
Sell my brother out
And reclaim him
For my own when society gives me
Token leadership
In society's own name.
I am Joaquín,
Who bleeds in many ways.
The altars of Moctezuma
I stained a bloody red.
My back of Indian slavery
Was stripped crimson
From the whips of masters
Who would lose their blood so pure
When revolution made them pay,
Standing against the walls of retribution.
Blood has flowed from me on every battlefield between
campesino, hacendado,
slave and master and revolution.
I jumped from the tower of Chapultepec
into the sea of fame–
my country's flag
my burial shroud–
with Los Niños,
whose pride and courage
could not surrender
with indignity
their country's flag
to strangers . . . in their land.
Now I bleed in some smelly cell from club or gun or tyranny.
I bleed as the vicious gloves of hunger
Cut my face and eyes,
As I fight my way from stinking barrios
To the glamour of the ring
And lights of fame
Or mutilated sorrow.
My blood runs pure on the ice-caked
Hills of the Alaskan isles,
On the corpse-strewn beach of Normandy,
The foreign land of Korea
And now Vietnam.
Here I stand
Before the court of justice,
For all the glory of my Raza
To be sentenced to despair.
Here I stand,
Poor in money,
Arrogant with pride,
Bold with machismo,
Rich in courage
Wealthy in spirit and faith.
My knees are caked with mud.
My hands calloused from the hoe. I have made the Anglo rich,
Equality is but a word–
The Treaty of Hidalgo has been broken
And is but another threacherous promise.
My land is lost
And stolen,
My culture has been raped.
I lengthen the line at the welfare door
And fill the jails with crime.
These then are the rewards
This society has
For sons of chiefs
And kings
And bloody revolutionists,
Who gave a foreign people
All their skills and ingenuity
To pave the way with brains and blood
For those hordes of gold-starved strangers,
Changed our language
And plagiarized our deeds
As feats of valor
Of their own.
They frowned upon our way of life
and took what they could use.
Our art, our literature, our music, they ignored–
so they left the real things of value
and grabbed at their own destruction
by their greed and avarice.
They overlooked that cleansing fountain of
nature and brotherhood
which is Joaquín.
The art of our great señores,
Diego Rivera,
Orozco, is but another act of revolution for
the salvation of mankind.
Mariachi music, the heart and soul
of the people of the earth,
the life of the child,
and the happiness of love.
The corridos tell the tales
of life and death,
of tradition,
legends old and new, of joy
of passion and sorrow
of the people–who I am.
I am in the eyes of woman,
sheltered beneath
her shawl of black,
deep and sorrowful eyes
that bear the pain of sons long buried or dying,
dead on the battlefield or on the barbed wire of social strife.
Her rosary she prays and fingers endlessly
like the family working down a row of beets
to turn around and work and work.
There is no end.
Her eyes a mirror of all the warmth
and all the love for me,
and I am her
and she is me.
We face life together in sorrow,
anger, joy, faith and wishful
I shed the tears of anguish
as I see my children disappear
behind the shroud of mediocrity,
never to look back to remember me.
I am Joaquín.
I must fight
and win this struggle
for my sons, and they
must know from me
who I am.
Part of the blood that runs deep in me
could not be vanquished by the Moors.
I defeated them after five hundred years,
and I have endured.
Part of the blood that is mine
has labored endlessly four hundred
years under the heel of lustful
I am still here!
I have endured in the rugged mountains
Of our country
I have survived the toils and slavery of the fields.
I have existed
In the barrios of the city
In the suburbs of bigotry
In the mines of social snobbery
In the prisons of dejection
In the muck of exploitation
In the fierce heat of racial hatred.
And now the trumpet sounds,
The music of the people stirs the
Like a sleeping giant it slowly
Rears its head
To the sound of
Tramping feet
Clamoring voices
Mariachi strains
Fiery tequila explosions
The smell of chile verde and
Soft brown eyes of expectation for a
Better life.
And in all the fertile farmlands,
the barren plains,
the mountain villages,
smoke-smeared cities,
we start to MOVE.
La raza!
Or whatever I call myself,
I look the same
I feel the same
I cry
Sing the same.
I am the masses of my people and
I refuse to be absorbed.
I am Joaquín.
The odds are great
But my spirit is strong,
My faith unbreakable,
My blood is pure.
I am Aztec prince and Christian Christ.


Veronica Cruz Sanchez, born in Guanajato, is a Mexican human rights activist, famous for leading the fight against the disenfranchisement...