Things That Matter

CV test for 2.25 – Gael García Bernal Slams Mexican President For Mormon Family Slaying

This week, the brutal slaying of a Mormon family in Mexico spurned various discussions the way the situation has been handled by both the Mexican and United States government.

On Monday, nine members of a Mormon family traveling to a wedding in Chihuahua, Mexico were hunted down and massacred by armed men in a cartel. The victims included members of the LeBarón, Rhonita Maria LeBarón (a 30-year-old mother) and six children. According to reports, three mothers and their children were driving from their fundamentalist Mormon community in a convoy of three SUVs when they were attacked, for unknown reasons. Mexico’s top security official, Alfonso Durazo, has said that the men involved in the killing may have assumed that the SUV convoy was a rival gang. While Mexican police have arrested a suspected drug lord behind the massacre, the case is still under investigation and many are calling out the Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for his comments about the attack that occurred on Monday.  

Including the Mexican Golden Globe-winning actor Gael García Bernal.

The “Coco” actor called out López Obrador on social media earlier this week, accusing the president of a lack of proper action and playing a part in the attack. 

“Every femicide, every murder, every injustice against children and old people. Terrible what happened yesterday. What happens daily, damn. How sad,” García Bernal wrote in a tweet. 

The  40-year-old award-winning actor has a reputation for of speaking up and out when it comes to matters that are about politics. He’s been vocal in the past about his contempt for President Donald Trump and his attack on minorities and people of color. Back in 2015, García Bernal spoke to the Guardian lambasted the president saying  “I mean, he called Mexicans rapists and drug dealers. How closed-minded and fucking ignorant is that? At first, you don’t listen, but then it reaches a point where you go, OK, now he’s created exactly what he maybe wanted to, which is that people are angry. I’m upset. I’m upset if I listen to anybody talk like that. We started to give Donald Trump so much space, and we started to validate his opinion, as if it’s like, ‘You know, it’s a valid opinion.’ No, it’s not valid. It’s hate discourse, and what follows next is genocide or civil war. I mean, that’s how it begins.”Speaking about the LeBaron murders, Garcia wrote to his Twitter followers that “If the government and [President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador] don’t change the narrative to assume their responsibilities, why the hell did we vote for you guys… You better fully assume responsibility and do the impossible so that this doesn’t happen again.”

As of Thursday, his tweet has generated thousands of comments and 8,600 retweets.

The act of violence has highlighted the different takes that Donald Trump and Manuel have taken on violence in Mexico.

“If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters,” Trump tweeted. “The United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively. The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!”

In a follow-up tweet, Trump suggested it was time for a “war,” saying, “This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!”

During a daily press briefing, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador rebuffed Trump’s suggestion, saying, “It’s not in agreement with our convictions. The worst thing is war.”

García Bernal became an active voice promoting the Mexican president during his election in 2018 but has since been critical of him. 

In 2018, after the Mexican governor bestowed the Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor it gives to foreigners, to Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, García Bernal was quick to slam the decision. At the time, Bernal accused Manuel of shaming the honor. “What level of self-inflicted humiliation, demerging any added value that such decoration might have. Shame. Tremendous. And do not say the pissing that causes us,” he wrote in a tweet. Speaking about the LeBaron murders, Garcia wrote to his Twitter followers that “If the government and [President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador] don’t change the narrative to assume their responsibilities, why the hell did we vote for you guys… You better fully assume responsibility and do the impossible so that this doesn’t happen again.”

As of Thursday, his tweet generated thousands of comments and 8,600 retweets.

A Geographer Just Created A Digital Map Of Mexico Highlighting Taco Shops And It’s A Thing Of Beauty

Culture

A Geographer Just Created A Digital Map Of Mexico Highlighting Taco Shops And It’s A Thing Of Beauty

featured image credit goes here

One of the biggest changes that the so called digital revolution has brought to our lives is the capacity that today’s computer systems have to process huge amounts of data. Processors today are able to run algorithms that bring together millions of data entries to find trends, cluster groups of similar objects and generate visualizations that can help us understand even the most complex aspects of science and culture. This is known popularly as “big data” and has changed the ways in which governments and companies understand reality and make decisions. For example, before high speed processing mathematicians took literally years to make sense of census data and find correlations between factors such as socioeconomic status, ethnicity, age and literacy levels.

Guess what? This can be done today with a few clicks as computers bring together millions upon millions of data entries and make sense of it all. It all sounds very geeky, but big data is defining how we live our lives, from how traffic lights coordinate to how much tax you gotta pay each year.

So all this geeky, nerdy stuff should be put to good use, o no?

Enter Mexican geographer Baruch Sangines, a true wizard when it comes to generating great data visualizations.

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Credit: @datavizero / Twitter

This young scientist is the Chief Data Scientist at a company called Jetty, and he does some pretty groundbreaking research on pressing social issues such as housing and poverty.

His LinkedIn profile is pretty impressive: “Experience in public and private sector with skills to analyze and visualize data related to: commuting, transit, housing, tourism, migration, security, and urban environment. Expert in territorial analysis and passionate about the cartography and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to visualize small and big data”. Wow. hold your horses, Einstein! He is a proud graduate of Mexico’s National University and has Master’s Degree on Demographics and Statistics. 

So why did he go viral on Mexican social media in the past few days? We mean, science is sexy but not viral sexy (sadly!). All because of this map:

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Credit: @datavizero / Twitter

No, it is not a visualization of WiFi points in Mexico. No, it is not a rendition of cartel activity. No, it is not a highlight of the areas in which development runs at a faster pace. It is about something much, much more relevant to everyday life in Mexico lindo y querido. Any guesses?

Nothing is more important than a delicious taco when you most need it! 

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Credit: The Splendid Table

Just look at that tortilla, a bit crispy, a bit soft… and that perfectly marinated meat… 

Well, Baruch created a visualization of taco stands in Mexico and nos ponemos de pie ante tal maravilla! 

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Baruch called this visualization Taco Universe, and it showcases all the registered taco stands and shops in the country. We can clearly see that there is a high concentration of taco shrines in the capital Mexico City, and that hotspots like Cancun and Cabo are also highlighted, perhaps thanks to gringo tourism craving fish tacos. The scientists used the database Directorio Estadístico Nacional de Unidades Económicas (Denue) (Statistical National Directory of Economic Units) from the federal census agency INEGI. The map highlights how taco culture is primarily based in the center of the country, with local varieties such as Puebla’s tacos arabes (a shawarma like type) increasing the traffic in that area. 

But it is important to note that many taco stands are not accounted for (and that is not this scientist’s fault).

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Thousands of Mexicans subsist in an informal economy with businesses that are not registered and pay no taxes. Among these businesses, mobile taco stands reign supreme. There are hundreds of taco stands all around the country that are set up informally. Sometimes you can find the most delicious tacos there! You can also find informal vendors selling tacos de canasta, a variety that is literally carried in a basket. This map does not take these informal enterprises into account, even though they are key to Mexico’s taco culinary tradition. 

So you are curious about tacos de canasta now, aren’t you? 

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Well, just look at these crispy, sweaty, fat-rich babes. Tacos de canasta are filled with guisados or stews, or with refried beans. We are almost sure that Baruch did not include them in his map, but we can forgive him for making us crave unos taquitos (we bet you are calling your comadres or compas right now to hit the taco stand) and showing us how Mexico is a country that despite its many challenges still finds time to live up to the old adage: barriga llena, corazon contento. 

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