Shoeless Mexico Indian Kids Win at Basketball

October 17, 2013

oaxaca3The New York Times, 10/17/2013

A team of Trique Indian boys swept through a youth basketball tournament despite their generally short stature and the fact that most play barefoot, earning acclaim in Mexico and abroad.

The team from the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca won all six of its games to become this year’s champions at the International Festival of Mini-Basketball held recently in Argentina.

For a remote Mexican village, hoop dreams carry kids far

October 16, 2013

bballThe Washington Post, 10/16/2013

No one is really sure who put up the first basketball hoop in Rio Venado. Big chutes of mud wash down the mountainsides when it rains, so it wouldn’t have been a good place for a soccer field anyway.

The town has five basketball courts today but only about 400 residents, most living in brown mud-brick huts along a steep dirt road. One court functions as Rio Venado’s town square, and it is where boys and girls learn the fundamentals of being an ethnic Triqui: speaking the Triqui language, wearing the elaborately woven huipil dress (for girls) and playing hoops, usually barefoot.

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Mexico Teacher’s Union Shows Political Clout

October 15, 2013

school-crossingThe Wall Street Journal, 10/13/2013

Tens of thousands of teachers are scheduled to return to school on Monday after their nearly-two-month strike shut out almost 1.3 million children in Oaxaca, setting the stage for violent clashes with parents who pledged to block their return.

During the teachers’ absence, parents, with help from teachers from a nonstriking union, opened dozens of schools in the poor southern state of Oaxaca, including one here at Mitla, a town that draws many tourists to its imposing pre-Columbian ruins.

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Mexico shocked as pregnant indigenous woman gives birth on lawn after clinic refuses entry

October 10, 2013

Baby feet by Flikr user sabianmaggyThe Washington Post, 10/09/2013

An indigenous woman squats in pain after giving birth, her newborn still bound by the umbilical cord and lying on the ground. It’s a photograph that horrified Mexicans because of where it took place: the lawn outside a medical clinic where the woman had been denied help, and it struck a nerve in a country where inequity is still pervasive.

The government of the southern state of Oaxaca announced Wednesday that it has suspended the health center’s director, Dr. Adrian Cruz, while officials conduct state and federal investigations into the Oct. 2 incident.

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Mexico arrest ‘dead’ mayor for allegedly faking death

July 25, 2013

OaxacaThe Washington Post, 7/25/2013

Prosecutors say they have arrested a man who faked his death to beat a rape charge, then later got elected mayor of a village in southern Mexico.

The Oaxaca state prosecutors’ office says Leninguer Carballido was arrested on charges of using fake documents and making false statements. Carballido was found late Tuesday hiding in a heavily fortified room at his family’s home on the outskirts of Oaxaca City. Carballido won July 7 elections for mayor of the village of San Agustin Amatengo.

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Mexico leftist party leader found slain in Oaxaca with elections looming

July 1, 2013

PRD logoAP, 6/28/2013

The leader of Mexico’s main leftist party in the southern state of Oaxaca has been found slain, little more than a week before local elections. The Oaxaca attorney general’s office said the body of Nicolas Estrada Merino, 32, was found Thursday in a sugar cane field near the city of Tuxtepec. It said in a statement that Estrada had three gunshot wounds to the head and that investigators are looking into the circumstances of his death.

The national leadership of his Democratic Revolution party, or PRD, condemned the killing and demanded that authorities speed the investigation. They would not say if they thought his killing was election-related. “I don’t want to say if this was political or party-related. We have to be cautious,” Miguel Barbosa, PRD coordinator in the federal Senate, said Friday. “Clearly we’re talking about a scenario of risk for those in politics. But it doesn’t help us right now … to make declarations that are going to provoke tension and fear among citizens who are going to have to express themselves through their votes on July 7.”

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The Other Mexicans: Indigenous people come from a world apart from Spanish-speaking Mexicans

June 25, 2013

shutterstock_20487302National Geographic, 6/24/2013

Villegas spent two years working in the grape fields where his older siblings still toil. Now he is a community worker at the Fresno headquarters of the Binational Center for the Development of Oaxacan Indigenous Communities, a nonprofit that focuses on the specific needs of indigenous Mexicans who have migrated to California. Across the United States these indigenous migrants are isolated even more than other immigrant groups. They speak neither English nor Spanish and are often looked down on by Spanish-speaking Mexicans.

They may not be the Spanish-speaking migrants that politicians picture when they discuss immigration reform, but as their numbers increase and trilingual members like Miguel organize, they have their own stake in the fractious debate in Washington. A possible language requirement would be particularly difficult for indigenous communities. Without Spanish, their road to English fluency will be that much harder. Their own languages are not traditionally written languages. Many have not had formal schooling.

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Housing Woes, Immigration Reform & #LadySenadora – Weekly News Summary: May 31

May 31, 2013

Coffee by Flikr user samrevelThe Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English-language press had to say…

Mexico’s economic performance was once again the focus of much media attention, though the press offered a less optimistic and more nuanced view than in recent weeks. The Wall Street Journal and The Economist, for instance, both reported on the crisis affecting three of Mexico’s leading homebuilders. Government subsidies that fueled the construction of at least 2 million low-income homes since 2000 have stopped, prompting homebuilders to miss debt payments. Many homes built far from urban centers remain empty, and the government has announced its policy will now favor vertical (i.e. high-rise) construction in cities.

On a more positive note, the Journal reported that foreign clothing retailers, motivated by relaxed tariffs and youthful demographics are now flocking to Mexico. In a survey of foreign and domestic firms conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico, 42% of respondents said they believed the country’s security situation had improved, and almost half of the firms surveyed said they expect additional improvement over the next five years. The same survey, however, suggested extortion has become a problem for more companies, with 36% of respondents reporting it in 2012 compared to only 16% in 2011.

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Mining Stirs Tensions in Mexico

May 24, 2013

mineThe Wall Street Journal, 5/23/2013

An influx of mining investments throughout Latin America is bringing badly needed investment, but is also causing tensions in some communities, pitting those who see mines as job creators against those who view them as predatory, in some cases threatening scarce resources like water. Here in the Ocotlán valley in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, two outspoken opponents of a subterranean mine run by a small Canadian firm, Fortuna Silver Mines Inc., were killed in separate incidents in the past year. Dozens were beaten or threatened. Two local government officials who approved the mine, including the then-mayor, were killed by an anti-mining mob.

From 2006 to 2011, mining exploration investment in the region jumped 150% to $4.55 billion, top in the world and equal to one in every four dollars, according to the mining industry information company Metals Economics Group. The investments are creating jobs, roads and other benefits in some of the most neglected corners of the developing world. But it is also creating tensions in a region with a long and complicated history with mining.

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Indigenous Triqui student from Oaxaca graduates from Alaska High School

May 15, 2013

education - pile of booksAnchorage Daily News, 5/13/2013

Reynalda DeJesus-Martinez will graduate from East Anchorage High School on Tuesday not as a straight A student but as an average student who worked hard for the grades she got in honors classes. For her father, it feels like a miracle all the same. “I feel so happy,” said Lorenzo DeJesus. DeJesus-Martinez and her family are Triqui, the indigenous people of a mountainous swath of Oaxaca, in Southern Mexico.

The region that DeJesus-Martinez grew up in has been wracked with political violence since before her parents were born. As a young child she and her family lived with fear and violence. Each trip to a market or festival meant the chance of being ambushed on roads. When she was 6 years old, her uncle was killed by members of an opposing faction. Her grandfather was killed in political violence when her mother was a small child.

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