As a Mexican I have been strained to live in different parts of the world. One thing that I have noticed, is that there is there is a growing nationalistic appreciation for your country of origin every time you have to live abroad. Arguably, this phenomena takes place in the vast majority of immigrants of every single country, including Mexico. There is an intrinsic sense of belonging that we crave as humans, as members of the world.
Many of students at universities create a wide range of societies to convey to other people their particular convictions and/or interests. These can range from political, social, sports, or even cultural. In this case I will be focusing on the Mexican Society at the University of Southampton (MexSoc). This society was originally created (to my best understanding), to support Mexican and other spanish speaking students at the University, as well as promoting Mexican culture.
There has been a huge change in this society from the time I met them from the first time in 2006, until the last time I saw them in 2016. In addition, the Mexican society demographics changed throughout time. Nevertheless, as mentioned before, there is always a sense of belonging as a society, as Mexicans, as Latin-Americans and as students.
Among many of the different events that the MexSoc, many of them cultural, such as the Day of The Dead Altar, MexSoc Seminars, MexSoc Cinema and Political Discussions. In addition, there are also social events, such as the parties to celebrate some of the main Mexican holidays. Originally, I was not part of the University since I was teaching in another university. Therefore, the way I was able to collaborate with the MexSoc was through producing the designs for their events.
In a way, these designs describe the foot prints of what has been going on in Mexico.
These posters will be described in chronological order.
During this time, the government had noticed that social network technologies could empower social discourse and demonstrations. For this reason, the government began to censor how the internet was going to be used in Mexico. Among many of the dramatic changes proposed, were the power to discontinue internet access and other telecommunication services whenever a ‘competent authority’ required so. This article 197 and 145 called for a full censorship of the Web, and there were even scenarios where demonstration where pages such as the 1DMX were taken down.
This poster depicted such censorship on the Web, a Web where Mexicans were not allowed to talk, hear or see anything that was nor previously approved by the government.
assassination kidnap of the 43 students in the state of Iguala, Mexico had become a trending topic. Massacres in Mexico carried out by the government have been a recurrent strategy, that showcases the impunity and ineptitude of the government and public servants. Arguably, even Mexican academics tend to forget their (our) own history. There has been numerous mass killings in hands of the government such as the one in Tlatelolco, Atenco, San Fernando and Acteal. Ironically, people seem to have forgotten that the current president was the governor of Estado de Mexico (Atenco), where one of the most recent human rights violations took place. The data used for this poster represents only official government interventions.
This poster is a simple data visualisation of the total number of people killed in individual events. Each dead person is depicted with a skull and they are arranged together so it looks like a skull. The colours, and visuals of the poster emulates the papel picado technique used to ornate the altars in Mexico.
When the current president of Mexico came in to power in December 2012, he already had a trajectory of abuse of power, corruption and negligence. It was a president, which arguably, risen into power thanks to the poorest 10% of the population, which at the same time is the core vote of his political party, PRI.
The emblematic president had already been called out as ignorant due to his interview at the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, where he was not able to mention three books that he had read, and confusing the authors of some of the books that he ‘allegedly’ read. Those news became viral, but not at much as the video of him giving a presentation in english at the World Future’s Society in 2008. No wonder he used an interpreter at the White House when he met with Obama as the ‘elected president of Mexico’.
During this time the Mexican congress approved the privatisation of Mexican oil. This billion worth business was applauded outside Mexico, where many of them indicated that this was a sign of hope. Beyond, the media influence of such topics, it was expected that transnational companies would begin to pay attention to such opening in the market. Companies such as Exxon, Chevron and Petrobras showed their interest in this neoliberal process.
This year’s poster depicts, yet again, that privatisation process that Mexicans seem to forget over and over again. Now in 2017, we can already see who are the main beneficiaries of such transactions. The poster shows an image of Villa, Zapata and Marcos to highlight that the revolution process is still yet ongoing and very present. In addition, there are two ornaments: an Aztec on the left and a Mayan on the right. This aimed to include the diverse ranges of cultures, where although there are over 20 different cultures, it acknowledges that Mexico is not just conformed by Aztec culture. For this reason, it was decided not to use the traditional eagle and include these indigenous icons. To remind the audience about the privatisation process, the background is made of a pattern of Pemex, and other transnational oil companies, such as Exxon and accompanied with the emblem of the European Union, which hosts many of the companies that thrive on developing economies.
The privatisation of Mexico’s natural resources seem to be a topic that tends to come up over and over. In fact, this is a topic that has been under discussion since the 1990s (Salinas-Zedillo terms). The long battle to privatise PEMEX seemed to be fought by a semi-united left. In hindsight, this also showcases how quickly the left disappeared in the Mexican politics.
During this time PEMEX accounted for 10% of the export revenues of the country with a $80.6 billion in revenue. The current political party in power, PRI, needed to have the connection to liberalise PEMEX and they finally got it in this current term with Enrique Peña Nieto. It has been argued that this is a common strategy plan to privatise state companies; break them and then sell them, or in this case call for investors such as Halliburton.
This poster aimed to rise the awareness that the oil privatisation was an ongoing deal. The illustrations depict the fight for the Mexican oil. The background shows a carved print from WWII made by the Taller de Grafica Popular, that calls for the removal of fascism and applauds the victory of US and GB over the Nazis. In addition, the background also displays a small high contrast image of Zapata, to remind us that we are still being overpowered by fascists ideologies through transnational companies.
For some reason, the MexSoc had already established the 5th of May as one of the established parties at the university. Mexicans do not really celebrate this date as much as Chicanos (Mexican Americans). The 5th of May celebrates the Battle of Puebla. When ex-president Benito Juarez came to power (1806-1872), he was left with a Mexico in financial ruin and owed money to Europe. Britain, Spain and France sent naval forces to Mexico, where negotiations were only agreed with Spain and Britain. France carried out the attack with 6,000 troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez. Juarez gathered only 2,000 troops, where many of them came from indigenous background. General Ignacio Zaragoza, a man born in Texas, came up with a victory in Puebla, where France reported over 500+ casualties. The Mexican army reported less than 100 deaths. This date was later picked up and made popular by Chicano activists in the 1960s in the United States. They used the analogy of the victory of the indigenous people over Europeans. Now, the Cinco de Mayo celebrations are very important for many Mexican-Americans and Latin-Americans-Americans (Latino Community) in the United States.
This poster aimed to reiterate that Mexicans do not celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla. The poster depicts a dancing Mexican army soldier dancing and smiling. He is currently wearing a wrestler’s mask in a kitsch combination of modern and past. The design and colours of the poster merge the French and Mexican flag colours. The overall design and ornaments were based on Art Deco style to depict France’s heritage in Mexico. It is an attempt to bring Cinco de Mayo back to its roots.
But not all of it is bad news.
Throughout these years, Mexico has seen a large range of changes in their economic policies, political corruption, and thanks to the World Wide Web, we are able to gather more information and evidence from politicians. Overall, what I can personally recognise is the disappearance of the Mexican Left and the immense connections that new PRI generations of politicians bring under their arm. Nevertheless, it is not all gloom, there is a growing number of Mexican scientists (not me), who are becoming world leaders in their fields. Many of them in Mexico, and many of them in other parts of the world. But if one thing is clear, is that when Mexicans get together, good things happen.