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Social media keeps Mexico’s elites in check

August 1, 2013

By Maria Tadeo”

A Mexican police officer has been fired after a YouTube video showing him humiliating a child sparked outrage in a country where abuse of power has become the norm. The good news? Social media is finally changing that.

The video shows disgraced city inspector Juan Diego Lopez forcing a 10-year old street vendor to get rid of his candy basket, carrying sweets and cigarettes, tossing it on the ground, as the child weeps inconsolably. Lopez “confiscates” his cigarettes and walks away. The boy is seen crying, rocking back and forth on his knees until a man helps him pick them up.

The video went viral soon after it was posted on YouTube on July 25. It became a trending topic on Twitter and the story was picked up the Mexican media. What followed is a tale of David vs Goliath with a little help from the blue bird: the cop has now been fired and the boy has won a scholarship from the state of Tabasco to continue his education.

 

 

Twitter has played a key role in holding Mexico’s elites accountable for their actions. Most recently, Humberto Benitez, the former attorney general for consumer protection – the Profeco- was forced to step down after his daughter’s antics caused uproar on the social media site.

Andrea Benitez threw a “you don’t know who you’re talking to” tantrum after she was told to wait for a table at a trendy restaurant in Mexico City. Waiting? In line? How dare you!

Instead she called in daddy’s men and ordered them to shut down the restaurant. Benitez, now known as “Lady Profeco”, did what many rich, privileged and well-connected young Mexicans do more often than not. Only this time her antics appeared all over YouTube.

The string of abuses goes all the way up to the Mexican president himself. Enrique Pena Nieto came under fire after his daughter, Paulina Pena Petrellini, blasted critics in the run-up to the Mexican elections, referring to them as “a jealous bunch of idiots” and ”plebe” – a slang word meaning “commoner”. Mexico’s first daughter issued a public apology for her inappropriate language.

Social media also played a pivotal role in the creation of “Yo soy 123″ – a protest group calling for transparency, freedom of speech and equality – hailed by some as the Mexican Spring. The hashtag “I’m 123″ turned into a global trending topic; connecting protesters across the country and coordinating a plan of action during the presidential campaign. These are small victories in the face of widespread social discrimination but it’s a step in the right direction. Published at The Independent.

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