Soda, Writers, and Afro-Latinos
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Mexico’s soda consumption
Latin America’s most consequential writers
Where do Afro-Latinos live?
Make sure you check out the comment of the week at the bottom!
Soft Drinks 🥤
Every year, 50% of all Mexican deaths occur due to one of 3 leading causes of death, all highly correlated with soda consumption: high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and obesity. To illustrate the importance, these deaths — 400K in total — represent 12x the number of annual homicides.
Of course, soft-drink consumption is not the only contributor to these deaths, and no company should be directly blamed for them. Low-nutrient street food, processed foods, high sugar content, lack of access to clean water, and low physical activity contribute to the leading causes of death (also correlated with low levels of education). However, soda consumption is one of the most significant contributors, especially in southern Mexico, where a soft drink is often more available than drinking water. Coke has become so entrenched in the culture that it’s now used in some religious ceremonies, basically replacing Holy Water— for more on that, check out this insightful documentary by Unreported World.
Slowly, the country has begun to take small steps to address the obesity epidemic. For example, it recently introduced very noticeable food labels to increase awareness, but much remains to be done. Restricting soft-drink sales to kids could be a step forward, as well as banning family-sized 2L bottles from stores. Perhaps Mexican policymakers could learn a thing or two from their European counterparts, whose leaders have taken a more holistic strategy to combat the growing obesity problem.
According to Google NGram, Mexican poet Octavio Paz was the most-mentioned author in Spanish publications in the century. He won almost every prestigious prize an author could win: the Nobel, the Neustadt, the Miguel de Cervantes, and the Jerusalem.
From a young age, Paz showed an interest in books, immersing himself in his grandfather's library. Later in life, he traveled the world as a diplomat, living through countless experiences and cultures that helped shape his literary genius.
Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was a source of inspiration for Paz and, interestingly, a diplomat and later a senator. As a diplomat in Spain, Neruda organized a refugee route to Chile during the Spanish Civil War, saving 2,000 lives.
Although every name on our chart deserves its own story, we'll lastly tell you about Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who is known as the pioneer of the "magical realism" genre. His most famous novel, "Cien Años de Soledad," exemplifies the genre perfectly — a seemingly realistic story of a family with inexplicable or magical events occurring spontaneously in the fictional town of Macondo. The book is considered one of the most influential books of all time, and 50M+ copies have been sold in 46 languages. Like Neruda and Paz, Marquez also won a Nobel Prize.
As far as the writers on our chart go, Isabel Allende and Mario Vargas Llosa are the only surviving ones today. These figures deserve to be remembered by the younger generation of Latin Americans as treasures in the field of literature.
Afro-Latinos are people with full or mainly African ancestry living in Latin America (not to be confused with the broader term of African diaspora, which also includes people with partial African ancestry). With 16.5M, Brazil is the country with the most Afro-Latinos in the region, representing 8% of its population. The country is also home to the largest African diaspora population in the world. Also, Haiti has the highest percentage of Afro-Latinos worldwide, representing 95% of its people. On the other hand, Argentina & Guatemala are the Latin American countries with the lowest rate of Afro-Latinos in their population (less than 1%).
The first Africans arrived in Latin America during the colonial period as slaves brought by Europeans. Surprisingly to most Americans, the majority of the 12.5M enslaved people brought to the "new world" during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade arrived in the Caribbean and Latin America. Only about 388K of those were shipped directly to North America, a small percentage.
Descendants of Africans who were brought to Brazil and the Caribbean eventually spread throughout Latin America. As they began to mix with natives and Europeans during the colonial era, different ethnic groups were born, such as Zambos (African and native mix) and Mulatos (African and white).
In the last few decades, many people that would identify as African-Latinos have been largely ignored in several parts of the region. Fortunately, this is starting to change. For example, in 2015, Mexico allowed people to identify as black or Afro-Mexican in its census for the first time, and about 1.4 million people (or 1.2% of all Mexicans) self-identified as such. Estimations say that number to be much higher, up to 2% of its population.
Some notable Afro-Latinos include footballers Pele and Neymar and musicians like Celia Cruz, Kalimba, and IZA.
Realize Latin America’s Potential 🚀
This week’s opportunity:
Google has over 50 positions open throughout Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Argentina.
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That’s all for this week 👋
Comment of the week in response to our voting participation chart on LinkedIn:
Thank you to all that have pointed out mandatory voting as an important factor for turnouts that we didn't mention. Being from Mexico, we weren't familiar with the concept.
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