Jazmin Diaz, radio-television-film and marketing senior, wrote and directed the short film “Carne Seca,” which will screen at the South By Southwest Film Festival. From driving all across rural Mexico to managing a large production crew, Diaz said she learned an incredible amount about the film-making process while creating this short.
While many students relax on the beach or drunkenly meander on Sixth Street for spring break, Jazmin Diaz will spend the week screening her short film, “Carne Seca” at South By Southwest Film Festival.
Diaz, radio-television-film and marketing senior, wrote and directed the short “Carne Seca,” which means “dried meat” in Spanish. The short follows the story of two young brothers in rural Mexico who must sell a cooler full of meat before sunset or face the wrath of their aggressive father. It premieres Friday at the Long Center and screens again Tuesday and Thursday in different theaters around Austin.
“The essence of the movie is about a character who finally has enough and decides to stand up for himself,” Diaz said. “I didn’t want it to be about the hardship that the characters go through. I wanted it to be about what the characters are capable of.”
The 11-minute, character-driven drama pulls extensively from a feature-length film Diaz originally wrote for a screenwriting class last spring. “Carne Seca” combines the characters from that feature with stories Diaz’s dad used to tell about his experiences selling meat out of a truck in Mexico, she said.
Production for “Carne Seca,” began last fall in another of Diaz’s classes — her Advanced Narrative Production course. After a month, 20 students submit a script, and the class votes on which five scripts should be produced. “Carne Seca” was one of the five shorts chosen.
The weekend her script was chosen, Diaz and radio-television-film seniors Haipei Han, the producer, and Jonathan Cox, the cinematographer, hunted for a filming location. The trio departed on an 18-hour road trip across Texas in search of a site that resembled the vast, open countryside of rural Mexico.
After 17 hours of no luck, Diaz said she and her crew stumbled across a pastoral Mexican landscape in the back of a trailer park in Blanco, Texas. Behind the trailers stood a little blue house with lazy farm animals and a chicken coop. She said it was exactly what she had envisioned.
Diaz said casting proved to be her next challenge. After deciding to cast people who had never acted before to make the film feel more authentic, she found the first brother inside a local boxing center and the second through an audition she held inside a middle school locker room. Diaz said the two boys were exactly what she was looking for.
“The characters were so distinctive and personality-based, it wasn’t about spitting out certain lines,” Diaz said. “It was more about demeanor. [The two boys I found] were the epitome of what these characters were.”
With editing help from radio-television-film senior Michael Gonzalez, the team submitted “Carne Seca” in November to the SXSW Film Festival. Diaz said she never expected “Carne Seca” would get accepted into the festival.
“We’re just excited because we’re so young,” Diaz said. “It feels like this is the beginning of a lot of other things. This film is my most intensive in that there was a huge production crew, and I finally learned the different facets of filmmaking and how to bring them together. This one felt like a complete story.”
The LBJ School of Public Affairs held a conference Friday to discuss violence immigrant women face along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Austin-area immigrants and people in careers affiliated with immigration addressed issues such as rape, domestic violence and other forms of violence experienced by women coming to United States from Central and South America. Speakers also addressed issues concerning women in U.S. immigrant detention centers.
Many women emigrating from their home countries have been victims of violence, and that victimization often continues after they arrive in the U.S., according to Laurie Cook Heffron, researcher program coordinator at UT’s Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
“These women are trying to flee a fearful situation, but the detention centers they are put in do not help,” Heffron said. “Issues of sexual abuse have been raised within these centers and requests are being made into these investigations. Other forms of domestic violence and control such as physical violence, emotional abuse, threats and coercion can be seen.”
Delfina Rossi, conference moderator and public affairs graduate student, said based from her own experiences and the experiences she has heard from others, she feels the U.S. has a responsibility to protect immigrant women.
“Wherever I have been, I am always an immigrant woman,” Rossi said. “As a feminist, we should all advocate for a better society where women don’t have to flee their country because they are afraid to be killed. The U.S. should be held responsible for violations of human and women rights.”
Rossi said Grassroots Leadership, an organization working to reduce immigrant detention, will work with UT students to protest against the conditions of an immigrant detention center in Dilley, Texas, later this month.
According to Heffron, a bigger problem exists in the “Northern Triangle” — Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras — where close to 50 percent of women experience domestic violence and there are some of the highest rates of femicide, or the act of killing women, in the world.
Ben Warner, a local counselor and therapist for couples and families, said he works with immigrant women to help provide them with a sense of safety.
“Many of these women when they come do not have what is necessary to help in a court setting,” Warner said. “Psychological testing can advocate for a client to be able to live here.”
A bill proposed Monday would set new procedures for border security, including outbound checkpoints along the border.
Texas legislators proposed a multifaceted bill, HB 11, that would permit the hiring of more Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and create police checkpoints when crossing the border to Mexico.
“Crime that comes through the border rarely stays at the border,” said Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton), primary author of the bill. “It finds its way into communities across Texas and the rest of the nation — where human beings are exploited for profit and lives are ruined by drug addiction. Border crime is not just a border problem. It is a Texas problem, and it requires a statewide response.
According to the bill, the checkpoints would only be on southbound roads in order to check for human trafficking violations, bulk currency and the transporting of weapons. The checkpoints would be located within 250 feet of the U.S.-Mexico border and on highways that cross the border.
HB 11 also would establish “[encouraging] or [inducing] a person to enter or remain in this country” as a felony.
The bill would establish procedure for crime-statistics reporting, creates a 50-hour work week standard for DPS officers and forms an “Officer Reserve Corps” within the DPS to conduct “background investigations, sex offender compliance checks, and other duties.
Bonnen authored the bipartisan bill, which 75 members of the House co-authored. There is an identical Senate bill, which Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) authored.
Bonnen held a press conference with his co-authors Monday to discuss the bill. At the conference, Bonnen did not provide a cost for the bill’s policies if it were to pass. Currently, the House and Senate’s border budgets are about $400 million and $815 million, respectively. Bonnen said border security funding has more than tripled over the past six years.
“We’ve stretched more than our financial resources to make up for Washington’s failure,” Bonnen said. “We’ve also put a heavy burden on state and local law enforcement asking DPS troopers to travel from other parts of the state to help, leaving their own communities a little less secure.”
At the conference, Bonnen said the bill is meant to address border security — not immigration reform.
“This is simply about securing our border,” Bonnen said. “We don’t get into the issue of immigration.”
UT and the National Autonomous University of Mexico signed an agreement that seeks to pursue research in areas of mutual interest and to facilitate the transfer of energy expertise between the schools, according to Jorge Piñon, director of the UT Latin America and Caribbean Energy Program.
Provost Gregory Fenves visited Mexico City earlier this month to sign the agreement, which the University hopes will strengthen academic bridges between the two institutions, according to a press release from the University.
The collaboration between students at the two universities will benefit engineering research at UT, said Carlos Torres-Verdin, petroleum and geosystems engineering professor.
“This is a very exciting and important opportunity within the college of engineering because [the National Autonomous University of Mexico] is the best university in Mexico in many areas of research,” Torres-Verdin said. “They have excellent students come here.”
The collaboration in energy research will be vital for the success of new governmental reforms in Mexico, which will open the energy industry to foreign investment, Torres-Verdin said.
“Mexico does not have the volume of energy professionals needed to supply the big demand when foreign companies land in Mexico to start petroleum exploration,” Torres-Verdin said. “This agreement with [the National Autonomous University of Mexico] is important because it will facilitate the development of professionals that Mexico needs to successfully develop its energy resources.”
Cooperation agreements alone will not ensure that Mexican students will come to UT because tuition fees remain out of reach for many Mexican citizens, according to Joshua Christopher Bautista-Anguiano, a petroleum engineering graduate student who attended the Mexican university. He said the Mexican government offers scholarships, but the state only covers up to 20 percent of a student’s tuition costs.
“The main thing that students in Mexico are concerned about is tuition fees.” Bautista-Anguiano said. “I know a lot of people who would have liked to go abroad. Either they did not have enough money, or they did not have enough scholarships. I know the agreements are there, but if they cannot find a sponsor, they cannot come.”
Sharing energy expertise will also help alleviate environmental concerns regarding fracking, a method used to drill through rocks for natural gas, in Mexico because it will make the shale oil extraction process safer, Piñon said.
“It makes sense for UT to exchange information with Mexico because we have learned quite a bit about fracking,” Piñon said. “This way they can do a much better job — a much safer job.”
Kay Bailey Hutchison, former senator and president of the Texas Exes, spoke at the KBH Center Symposium Friday. The symposium offered an interdisciplinary take on Mexican energy issues, exploring UT’s potential role in drilling opportunities in Mexico.
Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison spoke at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on Friday during the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center’s Symposium on North American energy security, an event designed to discuss geopolitical issues in North American energy. The symposium was part of UT Energy Week, a conference showcasing emerging research in the energy field. Hutchison discussed about the future of energy technologies and the effects of the energy reforms in Mexico. After the event, Hutchison sat down with The Daily Texan for a Q&A.
Daily Texan: Where did the idea for the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center come from, and what unique perspective does a multidisciplinary study of the industry with business, law and engineering have to offer, specifically?
Former senator Kay Bailey Hutchison: Honestly, John Beckworth, associate dean of the UT law school, thought of a joint business and law school energy center. I immediately loved it because I have been general counsel of a corporation, and I know so often that the business people do not understand the legal needs to make sure everything in the transaction is right. Conversely, sometimes the lawyers do not understand the needs of the business people to complete a transaction in a timely way so that they do not lose their deal or their customer. So, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to have a joint center where law students in the energy field would learn about the business side and the business students would understand the legal side. [The Center] also has a particular focus on Latin America and the differences in the laws and legal systems. This could be very helpful for somebody who wants to explore or produce energy in another country. It was a perfect fit, and when they decided to name it after me, I was thrilled.
DT: How would you gauge the success of the KBH center in achieving the goals that you mentioned?
KBH: Well, we have only been created since last summer, but we have come such a long way in a very short time. I think this inaugural symposium has been a huge success. We have had Mel Martínez, the former senator and cabinet member, and Bob Jordan, the former ambassador from the United States to Saudi Arabia. They have given great insights on international energy. Mel is the chairman of J.P. Morgan Latin America, so he showed us the corporate side. Bob Jordan was insightful because Saudi Arabia is doing so much right now to affect the price of oil globally. He also had some good insights on the new king and the new hierarchy in Saudi Arabia. The symposium has been a wonderful success. The panels have been good, the questions have been good. The audience is really asking questions and that is what you want in a good conference.
DT: Has the KBH Center participated in the debate regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline?
KBH: I am a total supporter of the Keystone Pipeline, myself, but we have not taken a real position on that. It has been discussed in the symposium, and the [Obama] administration was represented here by an assistant secretary of state. The question has come up: Why would we not have a Keystone pipeline? Many in the room think that it would be an environmentally safer way to transport oil from Canada than the trucks that we are having to build new highways to accommodate. So that has been a real debate here and it has been very relevant.
DT: At a panel earlier this week, during UT’s Energy Week, experts agreed that for some issues, such as energy storage, regulatory agencies have fallen behind in developing regulation. Has the center tackled any of these issues and did you encounter any of these issues as a senator?
KBH: Absolutely. As a senator I encountered the new energy innovations. With solar energy, the biggest problem with using it was that it was so cyclical, and we could not store it. Even natural gas for cars. There has been so much that has emerged just in the last 10 years. I think the regulators are certainly trying to keep up with what is necessary in the regulatory field, but it is a work in progress.
DT: Could you talk about some specific ways that you helped regulatory agencies catch up?
KBH: Well, for sure, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center will be able to shed light on what is coming up in regulation in terms of what might be needed, what might not be needed, what would be a better way to regulate. We want to allow for creativity to grow and progress. [We] do not want to stifle creativity by regulating something that is not there yet because it is not ready. There has to be balance to assure that the new kinds of energy, clean energy especially, are not regulated to death before they are able to be useful. For instance, the lack of battery storage for solar panels is a problem. If we allowed battery storage we would be able to run manufacturing plants consistently rather than have to lessen output in peak hours. Battery storage is an area where the federal government is doing more research and it’s very important to develop that. But, we want to make sure that as we do, there are environmental rules that assure that we are doing it safely and in an environmentally friendly way. We want the creativity to emerge so we can start using solar energy more efficiently. The new technologies would apply in other areas as well.
DT: Obama has supported an all-of-the-above policy that supports natural gas as well as nuclear and other forms of energy. So, a lot of different forms of energy are being researched. What energy innovation are you most excited about?
KBH: I think it is essential to make sure that we are getting the oil and gas in an environmentally correct way so that we become energy independent. It is going to make us more competitive globally because our businesses will have lower-cost energy. This is an area where America has led. We creatively produce new ways to get oil and natural gas out of the ground and out of the water. So, I think oil and natural gas is probably the biggest area where we can move forward and truly towards energy independence. Solar power and wind power are also very promising. We do not have the mechanics yet to make it a big percentage of our energy use, but Texas is doing quite a bit in wind, as well as solar, and it is very efficient once it is up and going. If we could get the battery storage, it is going to be a real part of our overall energy independence. I am excited about that, and I am excited about Texas’ role in producing these new options.
There is also another option — using currents in the oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. [We] can use currents to generate energy for use on land. That is something that is being experimented in the Galveston-Houston Area. The University of Houston is doing work in that area, as well as others.
DT: Today’s symposium has an international focus of stabilizing North America’s energy. What are specific energy initiatives in Mexico by Mexicans, Americans or private actors that you look forward to see implemented?
KBH: The exciting part of energy in Mexico is that they are opening it up. It used to be just PEMEX, the national oil company, that was able to produce oil and gas in Mexico. But President Nieto has certainly made strides in saying, “We want to open it up, we want foreign investment and we want more out of the ground, as well as the Gulf of Mexico.” He is making it happen, and the [Mexican Legislature] is going along with it, and they are in the regulatory stage now. I think the American companies are going to want to be a part of this. They are going to want to work, in some cases, with PEMEX, and, in some cases, independently. [The companies] are going to bid on leases in the northern part of Mexico that would be the continuation of the Eagle Ford find in South Texas that we think continues on in North Mexico. But also, in the Gulf of Mexico, there is a lot of opportunity. American and European countries are bidding and winning in the Gulf of Mexico for drilling in the deep water, but it is very expensive so that may be down the road because the price of oil is so low right now. But, the big question mark out there is safety and the drug cartels. No foreign company is going to want to come in if they are not going to be able to be safe and also be able to do business in a transparent way because we have laws that require that. This large criminal element in the drug cartels is really hurting so much of the tourism in Mexico, most certainly, and in some ways, business as well.
Kay Bailey Hutchison, former senator and president of the Texas Exes, spoke at the KBH Center Symposium Friday. The symposium offered an interdisciplinary take on Mexican energy issues, exploring UT’s potential role in drilling opportunities in Mexico.
UT energy researchers and students will help discover new drilling opportunities in Mexico when the country opens up its industry to foreign investment in June, according to Jorge Piñon, interim director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy.
Piñon spoke at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law, and Business Symposium on Friday. The symposium involved representatives from geology schools across Texas, executive boards of energy companies, the U.S. government and Mexican environmental organizations.
UT’s legal agreements with Mexican universities will help fill the gaps in energy expertise that could stifle the success of the energy reforms, Piñon said.
“About two weeks ago, Provost Fenves was in Mexico City, and UT did sign three agreements with the National Autonomous University of Mexico,” Piñon said. “One agreement was a cooperation agreement on energy between the Cockrell School, the Jackson School and UNAM. We, the University of Texas, [are] moving forward in trying to establish academic bridges.”
Reforms in the past two years mark a stark shift in Mexico’s previous energy policies, which allowed only the national oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos, to drill in Mexico, according to Darcia Datshkovsky, public affairs and energy and earth resources graduate student.
“Until the reforms happened, Mexico had the most closed energy market in [the] whole world — more closed than even North Korea and Cuba,” Datshkovsky said. “Everywhere from production to distribution to refineries, there was absolutely no private investment. It was not just that it was not happening; it was forbidden by law.”
Scott Tinker, director of the Bureau of Economic Geology, said opening energy investment to foreign companies holds promise because Mexico has the third largest reserves of shale oil and gas in the world, and most of it remains unexplored.
“In Texas, we have drilled over 1 million wells since oil was discovered around a century ago,” Tinker said. “In a larger area in Mexico, there are only 50,000 wells — exploratory and developmental combined.”
Opening up the energy sector could be risky for the Mexican government and its citizens, according to Melinda Taylor, executive director of the KBH Energy Center.
“The Mexican government is trying to strike a balance to ensure that even with foreign investment, they will get to keep the revenue they need and protect their environment and workforce,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the symposium offered an interdisciplinary take on Mexican energy issues.
“The idea was to bring together people who would not ordinarily have been in the same room to discuss these issues,” Taylor said. “[Our program] is the first to consider the geopolitical perspective and the potential pitfalls for Mexico.”
UT alumnus Antonio Ruiz-Camacho ended his 18-year career in journalism to publish his first work of fiction, “Barefoot Dogs: Stories.”
After 18 years of working in a newsroom, UT alumnus Antonio Ruiz-Camacho only knows how to write at one speed: quickly.
As a result, when Ruiz-Camacho turned his attention to writing a novel — his fiction debut — he finished the process in less than a year.
“Barefoot Dogs: Stories,” which will be released in the spring, chronicles the misadventures of a large wealthy clan in Mexico trying to cope with the blowback from the disappearance of the family’s patriarch. Ruiz-Camacho said writing the novel allowed him to explore the personal effects and consequences of violence in Mexico on people’s everyday lives — something he could not focus on at length as a reporter.
“As a journalist, you jump in, get the story and get out — already pursuing the next story,” Ruiz-Camacho said. “I’m most interested in investigating what happens to the people who have to live through those events even after the media has left.”
A fiction writer since middle school, Ruiz-Camacho said he never considered his hobby a viable professional option. Before focusing his efforts on his fiction, Ruiz-Camacho worked in almost every position in a newsroom, working for publications in Europe, Mexico and the United States. Most recently, he served as senior publisher at Univision Interactive Media.
Ruiz-Camacho said that after spending many years in leadership positions — first as an editor-in-chief and then as a managing editor — he realized he felt disconnected from the storytelling process.
“I didn’t write stories,” Ruiz-Camacho said. “I didn’t assign stories and didn’t even get to edit stories.”
In 2009, Ruiz-Camacho was one of 21 recipients of Stanford’s Knight Journalism Fellowship, which involves an engaging 10-month program that seeks to instill creativity and exploration in its writers.
“The feedback and encouragement at Stanford for the first pieces I wrote was so incredible [that] I decided to give fiction writing a real try,” Ruiz-Camacho said. “I thought that, as long as people keep reacting positively to this and giving me opportunities, I will keep doing it.”
After completing his fellowship in 2010, Ruiz-Camacho went on to earn his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from UT’s New Writers Project, to win the prestigious 2014 Dobie Paisano Fellowship, and to see his work published in dozens of publications — including The New York Times.
Ruiz-Camacho, a Mexico native and Austin transplant, admits writing fiction is, at times, a challenge because English is his second language.
“[When writing my novel,] I felt I didn’t have complete control of the grammar and all the idioms you only acquire when you use a language — things no one is going to teach you in a class,” Ruiz-Camacho said. “Getting rid of that self-consciousness was the hardest part.”
English associate professor Oscar Casares has been Ruiz-Camacho’s friend and mentor since the two met in 2010, while Ruiz-Camacho was
pursuing a graduate degree at UT. Casares said Ruiz-Camacho’s status as a bilingual author contributes to his distinct voice.
“Part of what makes [Ruiz-Camacho’s] voice so unique is that he’s mastered English without losing the cadence of his Spanish,” Casares said.
Ruiz-Camacho said he rarely begins a story with a deliberate intention or theme in mind. He said the inspiration for most of his pieces emerges from striking images or scenes of distinctive characters who cross through his imagination unsolicited.
“I feel I am receiving visitations from these characters, as if they were like ghosts or dead people haunting me, asking me to tell their stories,” Ruiz-Camacho said. “I start investigating, asking myself, ‘Who are these people, and what do they want?’ For me, answering those questions and forming a narrative around those answers is thrilling.”
Three years ago, history freshman Dan Luiton’s uncle disappeared in Mexico. When Luiton heard about 43 students who went missing in Mexico over a month ago, he said it hit close to home.
“I’m from the border,” Luiton said. “I’ve seen it happening — people disappearing.”
The case of the missing students of a rural teaching college in Ayotzinapa has sparked global attention. It is suspected that the students were kidnapped during a mass protest and handed over to a local gang by police. Many universities, including MIT, Boston University and Harvard, recently made a video together in support of finding justice for the missing students. Luiton said this video inspired him to make a similar one at UT.
“I was like, ‘Where’s UT? UT should be there because we’re in the South,’” Luiton said. “I was thinking we should bring more people to this cause.”
After seeing the video, Luiton started the “#Ayotzinapa UT” initiative on Facebook by inviting students to help him make a video in support of seeking justice for the Mexican students. The group, which is composed of about 30 members, plans to produce a video by the end of the semester. Undeclared freshman Devany Cantu used to travel to Mexico every weekend with her parents but said they stopped going when the gang violence worsened. She said she joined the initiative because of this experience.
“I wanted to join as a way for me to contribute in any way — whether it’s speaking my mind that would help this cause,” Cantu said. “Just knowing that there are students speaking up for Mexico can allow the word to be spread.”
Luiton said the main purpose of the video is to inform people because he thinks the news is not informing people enough on the issue. In the video various students will hold up posters saying, “#Justice for Ayotzinapa.” He also plans on having them hold up signs numbered one through 43 each, representing one of the missing students.
“[The news] is just hiding it,” Luiton said. “I just want to raise awareness. People need to know about this. We want justice.”
Santiago Rosales, business and economics freshman and member of Student Government, said he joined the initiative because he believes SG can do something to support this cause. He cited a one-day fundraising initiative called “Hold Up for Haiti” put on by SG and more than 15 other campus organizations in 2010 as an example of a
“I myself am of Mexican heritage, so to know that students who are pursuing similar interests in a similar institution to that of UT down in Mexico aren’t able to do so because of political and organized crime reasons is a very detrimental thing for me to hear,” Rosales said. “I believe that Mexico deserves justice for the crimes that were committed against the people. We, as students who do have the freedom to express — we have an obligation to do so.”
Through the sharing power of social media, Rosales hopes the video will go viral.
“Given that we are in a different country and we don’t have any legislative authority or any voting rights in Mexico, we can’t do anything politically,” Rosales said. “Voicing our opinions in support and in unison with all university students across the globe is a very powerful statement that we can make.”
Luiton, Cantu and Rosales hope that the video will bring them one step closer to getting justice for those who have disappeared in Mexico.
“We’re just letting everyone know that we’re here ,and we know what’s happening, and we’re tired of it,” Cantu said. “We’re standing up for others.”
Celia Santiz Ruiz spoke at an event hosted by the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies on Friday and shared her experiences as the president of Jolom Mayaetik, a women’s weaving cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico.
“Jolom Mayaetik” is Tsotsil for “Mayan Women Weavers.” The cooperative was formed in 1996 with 250 indigenous women who wanted to gain a better price for their woven work. Ruiz said, as president of the cooperative, she focuses on keeping younger women out of trouble in Mexico by teaching them the art of weaving.
“We, as mothers, also have to be careful about our daughters so that they don’t take the wrong path,” Ruiz said. “We want to keep the cultural heritage of the weaving so that they don’t lose that ability.”
Josefina Castillo, program director for Austin Tan Cerca de la Frontera, said many Chiapaneca women experience domestic violence. According to Castillo, younger women are encouraged to seek out education at the high school and college levels in cities such as San Cristóbal in the Chiapas state. There they are able to properly learn about domestic violence and realize they are being mistreated.
“They come back and see the conditions and rebel against it,” Castillo said. “They become empowered as women because they are able to access education.”
Ruiz said she has made it her mission to promote the cooperative’s work for fair profit, while also allowing women to gain social justice against domestic violence.
“Traditionally, [men] have to give you permission,” Ruiz said. “But we have learned that we can manage ourselves.”
Ruiz also shared her personal decision to leave her husband.
“I feel good being by myself because I have the opportunity to go places,” Ruiz said. “If I was still with my husband today, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
Hector Dominguez, associate professor in the Spanish and Portuguese department, leads the debate that explores the realities that led to the disappearance of 43 Mexican students.
Editor’s Note: The quotes in this article were originally delivered in Spanish and were translated after the event.
In reflecting on both the anniversary of the Mexican revolution and the recent outcry over the disappearance of 43 Mexican students, UT students and faculty formed part of a panel comparing the time of the Mexican revolution to the current social “revolution.”
The discussion, hosted off-campus at Monkeywrench Books, included Hector Dominguez and Gabriela Polit, associate professors in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and Alejandro Velez, computer science adjunct assistant professor.
According to the panelists, the disappearance of the 43 students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, in September, and the lack of action from the government have led Mexico to what can be called a revolution.
According to Dominguez, the current main problems in Mexico are due to the drug cartels and the lack of action from the government.
“The cartels were once controlled by the government, but now they control the government,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez also said a major step society must take is to identify the drug cartels as the enemy and then solutions can be sought. Polit also agreed that there is a major confusion in terms of what should be done in Mexico and agreed that the drug cartels present the central problem is a just assessment.
Velez said the Untied Nations has repeatedly given Mexico recommendations on aiding the war against drug cartels and gaining rights for the citizens, and that none of the rulings have been implemented.
According to Velez, many Mexican citizens besides the 43 students have disappeared but how many more cannot be determined. He said Mexico has a set of priorities, and none of them deal with the rights of citizens or the formulation of protocol for disappeared students.
“We don’t know how many have disappeared because the government is too busy keeping track of how many oil barrels are exported on a daily basis,” Velez said.
Velez also said the situation with the 43 missing students provoked a social reaction throughout the Mexican nation and that this is something that could possibly define history.
“It is the social response that is shocking to everyone, and it goes to show how upset the Mexican citizens have been for years,” Velez said.
Yoalli Rodriguez, Latin American studies graduate student and event coordinator, said the social response from the international community is critical in keeping the movement alive.
“We cannot let the holiday season take attention away from the movement in Mexico,” Rodriguez said. “We are terrified that the media will stop reporting, such as it’s done before, and the government will get away with it again.”
Rodriguez, along with other UT graduate students, coordinated the event and is planning more events to involve the UT and Austin community with the Ayotzinapa social movement.