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Four hundred years on, Mexico’s oldest Black community struggles to survive

Outside Mama Cointa’s home where she has lived for almost all her life, guests have gathered to celebrate her 101st birthday. Her friend Victor steadies her quivering hand with his own while she tilts a ribbon-wrapped bouquet of wilting flowers to her nose. Her son Don Amado ushers visitors inside their family home.

“Our home is the last of its kind here,” Amado said, ducking underneath a sheet of thatched palm leaves hanging over the entranceway to a windowless, one-room house, where he was raised by his mother, Mama “Cointa” Chavez Velazco, in the village of Tecoyame, Oaxaca.


One woman's bid to save Mexico's first Afro-Mexican museum

Angélica Sorrosa Alvarado is the curator, manager, tour guide, administrator, caretaker and cleaner at the Museo de las Culturas Afromestizas (Museum of Afro-Mexican Culture) in Cuajinicuilapa. “I am alone,” she says, gesturing at the cavernous halls of the museum, which she describes as “one of my proudest achievements”.

In the Costa Chica region, which is home to Mexicxo’s largest population of African-Mexicans, the museum is unique in the country. When it opened 25 years ago, it was heralded as recognition of the more than 2.5 million Afro-Mexicans in a country that had long overlooked them.


The best photos of 2023 - Los Angeles Times

When De Los launched in July 2023, our goal was to tell stories that helped contextualize the Latino experience in the United States. We realized that our storytelling had to involve more than just the printed word and that our platform needed to highlight the creative work of our photographers.

Over the last six months, we’ve tried to pair our great reporters and contributors with equally talented photographers. Here you’ll find some of the best De Los photos, as selected by photo editor Raúl Roa.


The world's most valuable radish

At Oaxaca's Night of the Radishes, freshly dug radishes are elaborately hand-carved for a holiday competition like no other in the world.

he radishes grown for La Noche de Rabanos (The Night of the Radishes) in Oaxaca, Mexico, are a world away from the small, thin, red and white sliced radishes that are commonly found alongside lime wedges and bowls of salsa on the tables of most taco restaurants in Mexico.

In fact, most of the 20 tonnes of giant, overfertilized radishes harvested in the days leading up to Christmas aren't edible. Instead, they're used as artist's canvases and hand-carved into the most intricate and elaborate festive scenes for a competition like no other in the world.


High-profile murders inspire calls for justice at Mexico's 'muxe' festival

Felina Santiago was cutting hair in her salon when she heard that one of her oldest friends, Oscar Cazorla, had been stabbed to death at the age of 62.

“I was paralysed with pain,” she recalled. “I knew we had lost a pillar of our community that day.”

Santiago and Cazorla both belong to Mexico’s muxe community, pronounced “mu-shay”, made up of people who identify as a third gender, neither male nor female.


Photo Essay: Defiance over danger as Mexico celebrates its 'third' gender

Throughout the weekend of Nov. 17, the 48th annual celebration of Mexico’s third gender — the “muxes” — took place in Juchitan de Zaragoza in Mexico, the country with the second-highest murder rate of trans and gender-diverse people so far this year.

Muxes — pronounced “mu-shay” are born biologically male, but live and embody traditional feminine characteristics and roles in their society.


Remembering lost loved ones during Mexico's Day of the Dead

On Dia de los Muertos, the streets of Oaxaca come alive with celebrations, as Mexico sees a spike in holiday tourism.

Paola Cruz and her nephew, Nicolas Sanches Gallardo, made a deal when they were kids playing in the hills of Oaxaca, Mexico.

They agreed that, when one of them died, the other would seek out a mariachi band to play their favourite Mexican songs at the funeral.

But Nicolas warned Paola that if he died first and she didn’t honour the pact, he would travel back to the world of the living on Dia de los Muertos - just to give her the scare of her life.


Framing Mexico: The magic of Oaxacan mole

Three generations of the Canseco family stand guard over giant copper cauldrons of dark sauce sizzling in Oaxaca’s Los Pacos restaurant production kitchen. Three generations of the Canseco family stand guard over giant copper cauldrons of dark sauce sizzling in the production kitchen of Los Pacos restaurant in Oaxaca. The aroma is otherworldly. 



Framing Mexico: Breathing new life into ancient tobacco traditions

The third in a behind-the-scenes photo series ‘Framing Mexico’ exploring some of the most loved and remarkable elements of life in Mexico, and their uncertain future. Alberto Castrejon tells Mexico News Daily exclusively about his journey to becoming a cigar maker in southern Mexico.

“My grandmother showed me the leaves when I was a child. These leaves changed my life and when she died, I knew they would become my life’s work.” – Alberto Castrejon 


How a street orchestra in Mexico traded violence for violins

Armando used to kick plastic bottles around the mountain of rubbish in the town of Vincente Guerrero in Oaxaca. He left school aged 11, fell in with a bad crowd, and soon he’d watch his friends cut the same bottles in half and fill them with solvents before mixing them with guava juice and inhaling the mixture deeply. They would pass into a dreamy, semi-conscious state for several minutes, refilling the bottles throughout the day.


Framing Mexico: Bloodlines of mezcal 

The sticky air is thick with the smell of chopped and charred agave plants at Palenque Don Goyo in San Baltazar Guelavila. Rain falls heavily on the rustic, family-run distillery which has been producing artisanal mezcal for 30 years. Water coats the leaves of 30,000 agave plants spread across verdant land in this hidden valley in the Oaxacan hills.


Framing Mexico: Tale of the fisherman

Towering palm trees brush against the salty night wind blowing inland from the Pacific Ocean in the secluded fishing village of Concepcion La Bamba. 

Flashes of light from firefly colonies shimmer around Sergio Vasquez Lara as he quietly unpegs two fishing nets which hang like sails from a long clothesline suspended between two palms. 


The remarkable efforts behind La Guelaguetza

Every July, Oaxaca plays host to one of the most significant and popular cultural festivals in Latin America. La Guelaguetza — a joyous celebration of the region’s remarkably rich cultural heritage — sees thousands of people from Indigenous and regional communities across the state come together to celebrate their identity and traditions. 

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