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Homophobic soccer chant provokes debate in Mexico

January 19, 2016

 

The controversial chant was first sung by Atlas fans at the Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara.

The controversial chant was first sung by Atlas fans at the Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara in 2003.

For more than a decade, rowdy fans at soccer matches across Mexico have delighted in shouting “Ehhhputo!” — a slang term meaning “faggot” or male prostitute — as the opposition goalkeeper runs up to kick the ball. This practice is generally accepted in Mexico as a light-hearted attempt to distract the goalkeeper, but Mexico’s Football Federation is now facing mounting criticism about its defense of what many people feel is a homophobic chant.

Having previously tolerated the shouts, football’s governing body FIFA took action last week, fining Mexico and four other countries for what it deemed “insulting and discriminatory chants” by their supporters during recent qualifying games for the 2018 World Cup.

The Mexican Football Federation has appealed the $20,000 fine incurred by El Tri fans during the 3-0 victory against El Salvador at the Estadio Azteca on November 13. Guillermo Cantu, the general secretary of the federation, told ESPN last week that “you have to understand some words culturally” and claimed the chant “is not discriminatory”.

Many supporters consider the chant a harmless Mexican soccer tradition and feel that efforts to censor it infringe their right to freedom of speech. Ricardo Olvera, a Club America fan who was born in Mexico but raised in the United States, told VICE Sports the term can mean “dumb ass” or “bitch” and is only used by fans to gain home field advantage by distracting the opposing goalkeeper. Many critics of the term are “people that are not born in Mexico and don’t fully understand our culture,” he said…

Click here to read this article in full at VICE Sports.

Mexico’s first independent state deputy tries to stay different

January 6, 2016
Pedro Kumamoto is the first ever independent legislator in the Jalisco state congress.

Pedro Kumamoto is the first ever independent legislator in the Jalisco state congress.

It is hardly uncommon to see protesters gathering outside government buildings to berate public officials in Mexico. Yet a more unusual occurrence unfolded recently as angry demonstrators outside the state congress building in Jalisco suddenly began chanting words of praise.

Cries of “I love you!” and “Kumamoto for president!” rang out after they caught sight of a banner hanging from a ground-floor window with the words “Walls do fall.”

The phrase was the campaign slogan of Pedro Kumamoto, who last year became the first ever independent candidate to win a seat in a state congress.

"Los muros sí caen" (Walls do fall) was Kumamoto's campaign slogan.

“Los muros sí caen,” meaning “Walls do fall,” was Kumamoto’s campaign slogan.

During the campaign the 25-year-old college graduate challenged the prevailing image of Mexican legislators as overpaid and out of touch with the public. Now he’s under pressure to prove he really is different…

Click here to read this feature in full at VICE News.

Mexico arrests the alleged financial brains of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel

January 4, 2016
This is believed to be a photo of Elvis Gonzalez Valencia on his hospital bed.

This image purportedly shows Elvis Gonzalez Valencia on his hospital bed.

The alleged financial brains of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel has been taken into police custody while recovering from a shooting at a hospital.

Elvis González Valencia is the brother-in-law of Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes — alias “El Mencho” — the elusive head of the cartel that is based in the western state of Jalisco. He is also the brother of Abigael González Valencia, the former head of a sister organization believed to run the Jalisco Cartel’s finances known as Los Cuinis, who was captured in the nearby resort of Puerto Vallarta last February.

Eduardo Almaguer, the attorney general of the state of Jalisco, told reporters on Sunday that González was hurt in a drive-by shooting while traveling from the town of San Miguel El Alto, about 60 miles northeast of Guadalajara, the state capital. He said the incident happened on Friday when González had apparently stopped to relieve himself by the side of the road when he and his companions came under attack from a group of armed men aboard a pick-up truck…

Click here to red this story in full at VICE News.

Mexico’s criminal gangs ‘contaminating democracy’ with money laundering activities

December 25, 2015
Edgardo Buscaglia presented his book Money Laundering and Political Corruption at the 2015 Guadalajara International Book Fair.

Edgardo Buscaglia presented his new book Money Laundering and Political Corruption at the 2015 Guadalajara International Book Fair in December.

Criminal gangs are “contaminating democracy” in Mexico by funding political campaigns and even buying public debt to launder their dirty money, according to Edgardo Buscaglia, one of the world’s leading experts on international organised crime.

A senior research scholar in law and economics at Columbia University and the author of the new book, Money Laundering and Political Corruption, Dr Buscaglia told The Independent that a “pact of political impunity” inhibits Mexico’s government from combating financial crime.

“There is a relationship between dirty money in politics and the inaction and paralysis of the Mexican government,” he said. “The Mexican government does not take action in the cases of businesses involved in laundering drug money or other financial crimes [because] in some cases these businesses finance political campaigns at local, state and federal level.”

The US government estimates that over £19bn in laundered money crosses the border with Mexico each year, while the non-profit think-tank Global Financial Integrity estimates that more than £34bn in illicit funds flows out of Mexico every year, the third-highest total in the world after China and Russia…

Click here to read this article in full at The Independent.

This murder has exposed the dark side of Mexico’s hacking community

December 10, 2015
Raúl Robles was a controversial figure among the Mexican hacker community.

Raúl Robles was a controversial figure among the Mexican hacker community.

Raúl Robles, a prominent Mexican hacker and cybersecurity expert, was eating breakfast with his father at a quiet café in a leafy neighborhood of the western city of Guadalajara when a masked gunman walked in and opened fire. Robles, 31, was reportedly hit five times and died at the scene. The killer escaped before police arrived.

The December 2 murder has shocked Mexico’s hacker community but it has also provided a window on a murky world of intense rivalry and mutual sabotage where the death itself was seemingly announced beforehand in an online forum.

Robles, a resident of Mexico City, had been the target of several threatening messages on Hispachan, a site for completely anonymous Spanish-language discussion that has proven popular among hackers since its launch in 2012. All the threats have now been deleted.

“I’m gonna kill this faggot!! I know he’s coming to my city and I’ll kill him here,” read the first threat posted in October, alongside an image of Robles…

Click here to read this story in full at VICE News.

Guadalajara mayor beefs up security as city is hit by wave of violence

December 10, 2015
Guadalajara Mayor Enrique Alfaro (left) has urged citizens not to panic amid the rise in violence.

Guadalajara Mayor Enrique Alfaro (left) has urged citizens not to panic amid the rise in violence.

The western Mexican city of Guadalajara has been hit by a wave of killings in recent weeks, which officials and academics have attributed to disputes between different cells of the local Jalisco New Generation Cartel and other rival gangs.

Guadalajara’s new mayor, Enrique Alfaro of the liberal Citizens’ Movement, has called for citizens not to panic and affirmed that his government has the situation under control.

“We want to send a message of unity and tranquility to the residents of this city,” he said last week. “We will do the necessary work to end this situation.”

Located in the western state of Jalisco, Guadalajara is Mexico’s second biggest city. It has generally been spared the worst of the drug-related violence experienced in Mexico’s most troubled states such as Tamaulipas, Guerrero and Michoacán, but there has been a notable increase in violence across the city and the state of Jalisco this year, mostly related to the New Generation Cartel…

Click here to read this article in full at Latin Correspondent.

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh on sex, drugs and rock and roll

December 4, 2015
Irvine Welsh (right) was one of the biggest name guests at the FIL this year.

Irvine Welsh (right) was one of the biggest name guests at the Guadalajara book fair this year.

Scottish author Irvine Welsh injected a heady dose of hedonism into the Guadalajara International Book Fair on Tuesday in a meandering but captivating talk that took in his thoughts on drug abuse, Scottish independence, the future of capitalism and his love of David Bowie.

Welsh, 57, is best known as the author of Trainspotting, a critically acclaimed 1993 novel about heroin addiction that was adapted into the iconic and hugely popular film of the same name by British director Danny Boyle. He proved one of the biggest attractions at this year’s book fair, with many disappointed fans left stranded outside a relatively small auditorium that was packed to the brim.

Welsh took part in a 40-minute conversation with Guillermo Fadanelli, a 55-year-old Mexican author whose work delves into the seedy underbelly of Mexico City in much the same way that Welsh explores the darker side of his native Edinburgh.

Dressed casually in a t-shirt that revealed his tattooed arms, the bald Scotsman was asked, somewhat unimaginatively, to talk about sex, drugs and rock and roll. Responding in a thick Edinburgh accent, Welsh revealed that when he creates a character the first thing he does is compile a list of “where they stay, who they lay and what they play.”

Deciding where they stay and what they play involves considering their background and putting on a musical playlist while he writes each character, Welsh said: “Sometimes it’s really great music and sometimes it’s not good music at all. Some of it’s horrible but it gives you a sense of their character.”

As for the significance of who they lay, he explained, “All the great humiliations, drama and stupidity in our lives are derived from the sexual side of our being, so it’s massively fertile territory for a writer. You can’t escape from it. So every character you write, wherever you do it consciously or subconsciously, you have to have a sense of their sexuality.”

Reflecting his debut novel, the hilarious but dark Trainspotting, which was widely lauded for its honest portrayal of heroin abuse, Welsh said, “I grew interested in writing about people who take drugs because I was taking a lot of drugs myself and I was trying to understand why and I was looking back on that period of my life and trying to make sense of it.”

His fascination with those who live on the fringes of society also stemmed from his own upbringing. “When I grew up I was always drawn to people who were a bit dodgy. One side of my family were very respectable, hard-working, working class trade unionists and socialists. The other side were very gangster orientated and into organized crime,” Welsh said.

“They had two very different ways of living their lives and I was very fascinated by them both without being particularly sold on either of them. I think because of that family background I was always drawn to characters from marginal communities who are into drugs and doing strange things.”

Having witnessed firsthand the impact of the closure of mines and factories in Scotland and northern England in the 1980s, Welsh noted that drug addiction typically thrives in places with high unemployment. In lieu of work, he said, drugs provide both the economic opportunities and the “compelling drama that everybody needs in their lives… that’s why people deal drugs and join gangs.” With modern technology making human workers increasingly redundant, Welsh warned that this will become the reality for the majority of people in the next 20 years.

For Welsh, who now resides in Chicago, hope for the future lies in the anti-austerity movements gaining pace across Europe and the drive for independence in places like Scotland and Catalunya.

“I was back home for the Scottish independence referendum (in September) and it was almost like a kind of revolution. People were suddenly politicized and they were talking about everything that’s happened in their communities in the last 30 years and they were really determined to make change. And although it didn’t actually come off it’s kind of changed the country forever,” he said. 

“The same things are happening in Greece, Portugal and Catalunya, it’s a global phenomenon that’s gathering pace. It’s a move towards democracy and claiming the world back from elites and trying to work out ways in which we can exist and survive and thrive as communities, as we should be doing.”

Moving on to rock and roll, Welsh was asked to name the album that most impacted his life. He chose David Bowie’s 1974 record Diamond Dogs, a glam rock take on a post-apocalyptic world inspired by George Orwell’s classic novel 1984.

“I was a massive fan of Ziggy Stardust and all that stuff but Diamond Dogs was a different kind of album. It was regarded as a bit of a miss at the time but when you play it now it’s such a strong album,” Welsh said. “It’s both a concept album and a rock and roll album. At that age, when I wanted to become an artist of some kind, whether as a musician or a writer, it became a psychological template for me and a roadmap of how someone should progress as an artist.”

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