Tag Archives: transliteration

God Does Not Exist (Javier Valdez Cárdenas, RíoDoce.mx)

This column first appeared in RíoDoce.mx on 2 February 2014. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

God Does Not Exist
By Javier Valdez Cárdenas

That’s what Cholo says: “God doesn’t exist. Just like my mother doesn’t exist, and neither do my father, family, or my house.” What Cholo has is a life lived on the street – since he was six years old. Street living has given him long hair, like the style worn by cholos in the ‘80s, with loose ringlets longer than the rest of his mane, baggy clothes, a sailor’s gait, a way of street talking.

Cholo shines shoes. He carries a wooden box with him and a backpack and a bag. Among his hiding places, he has a small knife that bears teeth when he brings it out. “So I don’t get fucked with,” he says. He has his clients and even a business card: luxury shoeshine, call me, guaranteed service, then a cell phone number.

It’s almost Christmas. For him it’s just winter. December without a 24th or 25th nor a 30th nor 31st. January without New Year’s. Christmas doesn’t exist. The cold on the street corner comes for those waiting for atole or gorditas, or a shot of brewed agave. All help them bear the cold’s brunt.

Cholo accepts everything. If it’s given, he’ll accept it. He’s in no position to refuse. From where he’s at, it’s a luxury to turn down a beer, a soft drink, some taco, a salted beef soup with chile and lime. “I can’t say no, especially if I haven’t eaten.” And already it’s six thirty in the afternoon. Cholo’s hands fly, polishing with the rag over and over again until the shoe and the rag both squeak, burnishing the shine.

His body carries a map of wounds. His life is a graveyard of injuries. Cenotaphs on his sides, on his arms. His head, inside and out, made from four punches, many kicks and cuffs, two blows that his absent father didn’t give him, several tons of forgetting, kilometers of heartbreak, nautical miles of I-love-yous, hugs, how-great-you’ve-comes, and don’t-go-I’ve-missed-yous.

The four punches came from hitmen, he explains. They punched him because they weren’t carrying axes in their hands. Punches and blows. They wanted him to betray another who had robbed them, fenced the product. But he did not know a thing. Yet they gave it to him bad anyway, so bad that he had to go to hospital, and barely recovered. The only thing he knew was that they found who they were looking for. And they knocked him off.

It’s December. “Is it Christmas?” he asks. The only thing he knows is that it’s cold and that he needs to find another coat. Drugs, matches, cigarette butts, broken glass from bottles, absences, a roof, his own bed, falling down, getting taunted and beaten up in jail, another set of hands: all of these wounds from a war that began when he stepped out on the street, and that still mark his mind, his skin.

He rubs and rubs, squatting. He’s been crouching his whole life, training for the world to end, which for him happens every day. “God?” he asks. And then he answers himself. “God doesn’t exist, and that’s why I don’t have any parents. I don’t want any.”

Journalist Javier Váldez Cárdenas edits RíoDoce, an investigative news website based in Culiacán, Sinaloa. He is a prolific author, with a new book, Con una granada en la boca (Aguilar, 2014) (With a Grenade in the Mouth — as yet unavailable in English). This Malayerba column for RíoDoce first appeared in Spanish under the title, “Dios no existe,” available at: http://riodoce.mx/noticias/columnas/malayerba/dios-existe.

Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and journalist based in the Americas. He edits the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP). Follow him on Twitter @patricktimmons.

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Ecuador’s Communications Law aims for Cartoonist Bonil (Soraya Constante, El País)

This article first appeared in El País on 23 January 2014. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

Ecuador’s Communications Law aims for Cartoonist Bonil
by Soraya Constante (El País)

–        Cartoonist must testify about a sketch of a break in at home of journalist Villavicencio

Seven months after its approval, Ecuador’s Communications Law – which Human Rights Watch considers “restricting press freedom” – has come into force. The first person to appear before the Superintendent of Information and Communication is cartoonist Xavier Bonilla (Bonil). An internal report from this agency alleges that Bonil distorted the truth and supported social unrest when on 28 December he published a cartoon in newspaper El Universo about a break in at the apartment of Fernando Villavicencio, a journalist and an advisor to an opposition lawmaker.

The cartoon appeared with the caption: “Police and prosecutors raid the home of Fernando Villavicencio and carry off documents alleging corruption.” The cartoon used Christmas as a hook to narrate what happened on the night of 26 and morning of 27 December, according to those affected and media reports.

In its first three months, the Information Superintendent has processed 52 cases, of which 20 have been resolved. The agency’s head, Carlos Ochoa did not provide more information about its operation, and what little is known about it is thanks to an interview he gave to Noticias Andes, a state news agency. “We don’t analyze cases publicly. We inform the parties in the dispute, and after a legal process we asses whether the law has been violated or not,” Ochoa told the news agency.

Bonil’s case has drawn attention because President Rafael Correa mentioned it in a broadcast on 4 January. On his show, La Canallada de la Semana [Weekly Roundup] he labeled Xavier Bonilla “sick, a hitman who uses ink,” and threatened to enforce the Communications Law. “We’ll file a complaint because now we have the Communications Law defending us. Otherwise, cartoonists who dressed themselves up as comedians will just spew their hate.”

The first working day after Correa made these announcements, the Superintendent for Information and Communication, Carlos Ochoa, asked newspaper El Universo for copies of the cartoon, and its author’s identity. As a result, the cartoonist and his lawyer went public about the process. Last Tuesday they replied to the Superintendent with a seven-page submission explaining different ways to look at caricature. “At base and in essence, it rests on exaggerating and poking fun at reality … it’s graphic, humorous opinion, so it’s as subject to its creator’s perspective as it is to that of the person looking at it,” states the text. The cartoonist also cited the press reports where he drew information for the sketch.

Bonil’s lawyer explained that the next step is an appearance where the parties present evidence and documents relevant to the case. The Superintendent has five days to schedule that meeting and then two days to issue a sanction, or archive the case. The new regulations for the Communications Law guide this process. President Rafael Correa issued those regulations at the beginning of this week, saying that they clarified parts of the Communications Law passed in June 2013.

The regulations – made up of 89 articles and 4 transitional provisions – go even further than the Communications Law in a desire to control content. César Ricaurte, director of the Andean Foundation for the Observation and Study of the Media (Fundamedios), worries about the control of internet-based media, something that wasn’t part of the actual law but now appears in the regulations. “Legally speaking, it’s schizophrenic: one part of the regulations guarantees rights, but another article restricts them. Article 2 doesn’t place controls on content created by citizens and legal entities on their blogs, social networks, and personal, business, or institutional web pages. But Article 3 says that all Internet media are subject to the law. So that means Internet-based content is subject to control.”

Ricaurte’s team has been working since 2008 on a register of restrictions to press freedom. Just in the last year they report 174 threats against journalists and communications media. “State officials carry out the majority of the threats, abusing the powers of their office, and the principal aggressor is President Rafael Correa. He’s seen as responsible for 13% of the threats,” Ricaurte indicated. “The president continues a stigmatizing and systematic discourse inveighing against journalists and the media. He’s described journalists in the harshest terms. On his Saturday program he identifies them by name and broadcasts what they look like. He does that after he receives criticism, or with op-eds he doesn’t like.”

Add to those threats rulings against the media, journalists, and editorial columnists. Fundamedios counts 42 judgments since 2008, with an increase in the number of cases imitating the judgment Rafael Correa won against newspaper El Universo. Correa asked for USD$40million in damages. Last year, a former judge claimed damages against a media outlet in the border province of Esmeraldas, claiming payment of USD$30million. “When the President won against El Universo, he asked citizens to seek judgments against the media and reporters. As a consequence, there’s been an increasing in using the justice system to quiet journalists,” Ricaurte relates.

Correa has railed against international media. In October he took to Twitter to accuse the magazine The Economist of lacking impartiality based on an article it published about Texaco-Chevron operations. This year he has done the same with the magazine Newsweek and newspaper the Miami Herald. The magazine raised questions about the state’s role in the massacre of isolated indigenous people; while the newspaper referred to break-ins at the house and office of opposition lawmaker, Cléver Jimenez, and his advisor, Fernando Villavicencio. This issue has become untouchable for the government.

Human Rights Watch’s report on the Americas published this week agrees with Fundamendios. On the Communications Law, the NGO confirms that it contains “vague provisions that allow arbitrary prosecutions and censorship.” The organization warned that the rules “opens the door to censorship by giving the government or judges the power to decide if information is truthful.”

Newspaper El País has also been the target of attacks by Ecuador’s government. Today, it attacked the newspaper for publishing an interview with Fernando Villavicencio who is now in Washington, weighing an asylum request. The Ecuadorean government’s principal argument is that large media groups work against progressive governments.

Journalist Soraya Constante reports for El País from Quito, Ecuador. This article first appeared in Spanish on 23 January 2014 with the title “El caricaturista Bonil, primer señalado por la Ley de Comunicación de Ecuador,” available at: http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2014/01/23/actualidad/1390452426_870042.html.

Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and journalist. He edits the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP), a pro bono translation service to provide distinctive, quality Spanish-language journalism to English-speaking readers.

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