In Mexico, Firing of Carmen Aristegui Highlights Rising Pressures on News Media

March 31, 2015

By Elisabeth Malkin, The New York Times, 3/27/2015

newspapers thumbnailMEXICO CITY — When Carmen Aristegui, Mexico’s most famous radio personality, was abruptly fired this month, nobody expected her to go quietly. But anger over her dismissal has been rising steadily, and it has turned up the heat in this country’s charged political atmosphere.

Conspiracy theories have abounded since a dispute between Ms. Aristegui and her employer, MVS Communications, ended in her departure. She has become an emblem of press freedom under siege, and social media has lighted up with demands for her return to the airwaves.

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Mexico airline apologizes for light-skin casting call for TV commercial

August 20, 2013

people with question marksThe Washington Post, 8/16/2013

Mexico’s Aeromexico airline and its ad agency have apologized for a producer’s casting call requesting that only light-skinned people apply as actors for a television commercial.

Mexico’s population is largely dark-skinned, but Mexican television ads routinely feature light-skinned actors, sparking accusations of racial discrimination. The commercial has not yet been made, but the casting call specified it wanted “nobody dark skinned,” only actors with “white skin.”

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How Mexico Became So Corrupt

June 27, 2013

cross my fingersThe Atlantic, 6/25/2013

Grupo Televisa, the world’s largest Spanish-language media company, is famous for its logo, a gold-colored eye gazing at the world through a television screen. According to The Guardian, this logo “captures the company’s success at controlling and dominating what Mexicans watch”. In a country where newspaper readership is tiny and the reach of the Internet and cable is still largely limited to the middle classes, Televisa — and its rival TV Azteca — exert a powerful influence over national politics. Through its scores of stations and repeater towers, the former accounts for roughly two-thirds of the nation’s free-to-air television; most of the rest belong to Azteca.

Accused for decades of politically slanted news coverage, Televisa represents another rarely spoken fact: modern Mexico has never functioned without corruption, and its current system would either collapse or change beyond recognition if it tried to do so. Just before the 2012 elections, Mexican news magazine Proceso and The Guardian released evidence of a series of shady deals struck between Televisa and the nation’s powerful Institutional Revolutionary Party (the “PRI”).

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Why Mexico Will Be Latin America’s Tech Leader

June 25, 2013

typing on computer keyboardABC News/Univision, 6/25/2013

A global race is on to create the next Silicon Valley, and Latin America is rapidly embracing technology and innovation as it vies to be the epicenter of the next tech boom. The stakes aren’t trivial. It’s clear that the countries that can develop new ideas and technology will be the economic winners of the 21st century. That’s why the Brazilian government, for instance, recently launched Startup Brazil, a business accelerator that aims to attract local and foreign talent to build tech companies in Brazil.

The program, which will provide entrepreneurs with up to $100,000 in grant money as well as office space and access to investors, is modeled after Startup Chile, the pioneering business accelerator launched by the Chilean government a few years ago. Chile was the first Latin American country to focus on attracting startups and developing an ecosystem of innovators. Other countries in the region, like Colombia and Peru, have followed their lead.

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Spotify begins Latin America push with Mexico launch

April 16, 2013

typing on computer keyboardBBC News, 4/16/13

Music streaming service Spotify has launched in Mexico – its first push into the huge Latin American market. The Swedish start-up, which has more than 24 million active users, has also gone live in Asia – in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. Launches in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland mean the service is now accessible in a total of 28 countries.

Spotify is the leader in music streaming globally, but analysts expect Apple to make its move soon. It is believed, but not confirmed, that Apple has come to an agreement with several major labels, including Universal Music, to launch a streaming service which has been informally dubbed “iRadio”. A music industry source told the BBC he expected Apple’s product to be available by the third quarter of this year. However, Spotify’s head start in the market has seen it amass more than six million paid subscribers since its launch in 2008.

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New Working Paper Series: Civic Engagement and Public Security in Mexico

April 5, 2013

newspapers thumbnailThe Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute and the University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute are pleased to launch a working paper series on civic engagement and public security in Mexico.

The working papers analyze the range of civic engagement experiences taking place in Mexico to strengthen the rule of law and increase security in the face of organized crime violence.  In the coming weeks and months, the Mexico Institute and Trans-Border Institute will release papers that address topics relating to civic participation and public security, including citizen oversight of police professionalization, community-based efforts to respond to youth gang violence, Mexico’s victim’s movements, and citizen roles in implementing judicial reform in Mexico.  Together the commissioned papers will form the basis of an edited volume.

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A ‘like’ for linguistics: Can social media save Mexico’s unwritten languages?

April 2, 2013

typing on computer keyboardThe Christian Science Monitor, 4/1/2013

When Hilaria Cruz chats online in Texas with friends back home in Mexico, she switches effortlessly between two languages: Spanish and her native Chatino. The trick is that, until recently, no formal writing system existed to represent the sounds and tones of eastern Chatino, an indigenous language spoken by 20 small communities in rural southern Oaxaca. Ms. Cruz, a doctoral candidate in linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin, had a hand in creating the alphabet she now uses to post messages on Facebook.

Social media have become a crucial bridge between the academics, activists, and young people who want to preserve the more than 360 variants of indigenous languages alive in Mexico today and the communities who actively use them. Many of these don’t have any formal written system, but a growing number of indigenous young people, computer savvy and sometimes far from home, want to Facebook, tweet, and chat in their native tongue. Both through social media, and perhaps because of it, they’re joining a burgeoning movement to create alphabets and a way to write previously unwritten languages like Chatino.

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