Día de los Muertos 2021

This day, according to Mixteca, Maya and Zapoteca tradition, we remember those who have passed on. Here is my graveyard of people who lived with gusto defending human rights, achieving civil rights, and protesting with their art. As is my tradition, I made these gravestones for the year’s muertitos (dearly departed) in time for Halloween.

First, I salute two women who dared to protest against a military dictatorship in Argentina (period called the “Dirty War” 1976-1983). They would gather with mothers and grandmothers in the Buenos Aires’ Plaza de mayo with photos of their beloved relative who had “disappeared” to speak out against the violence. Most “disappeared” were never found. The “Dirty War” was part of Operation Condor. Funding for Operation Condor to stamp out Marxism in Latin America came from the United States as part of Cold War politics.

Gravestone for two Abuelas y Madres de la Plaza de mayo (Grandmothers and Mothers of the Plaza de mayo) Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Next, I tip my hat to Carmen Vázquez, Puerto Rican American LGBTQ+ activist. She spent her time on earth working to help other people; immigrants, refugees and the LGBTQ+ community. Carmen was the coordinator of Lesbian and Gay Health Services in San Francisco. She was also co-founder of Somos Hermanas (We are Sisters), a Central American women’s solidarity network.

Carmen Vázquez tombstone Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Patricio Manns gave a very important musical contribution to Chile and to the world. He wrote anthems like “Arriba en la cordillera” (Up in the Mountains) and “El Sueño Americano” (The American Dream) that rallied Chileans during the difficult times of the Pinochet dictatorship. He was a founding member of Nueva canción, a musical group and social movement that became a Chilean cultural ambassador to the world during exile.

Patricio Manns tombstone Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

A key figure in the Bolivian indigenous movement, Felipe Quispe Huanca played a central role in getting Evo Morales elected, although he was disappointed that Morales did not place more focus on indigenous concerns in his governing. Felipe was part of the Pachakuti movement for Aymara-Quechua self-determination.

Tombstone for Felipe Quispe Huanca “Mallku” Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Last, but never least, Emiliano Zapata. A true revolutionary that has graced every art installation graveyard since our first party in 2003. Zapata died fighting for agrarian reform during the Mexican Revolution. In 1994, indigenous people of Chiapas continued the fight, calling themselves Zapatistas.

Gravestone for Emiliano Zapata Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

That’s Part I, the Latin American 6. The next 6 in Part II will be from three different continents!

¡Olé! –Rebecca

Rebecca Cuningham

18 thoughts on “Día de los Muertos 2021

  1. This is just an AMAZING post, Rebecca! What a wonderful way to tell about such important people. I love the fun of Halloween, but I think it would be a more thoughtful world if more people did this as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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