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Social Networks Help Take Down a Peg Mexico's Most Privileged

Two screenshots from the video “Las ladies de Polanco” (The Polanco Ladies) posted on YouTube.

Social media has been instrumental in shaming affluent Mexicans when they're caught on film abusing other people they believe “beneath” them socially. Roughly a year ago on Global Voices, we spoke about the “Mirrey”: a term used to describe a particular kind of lifestyle in Mexico. In that post, our collaborator from Mexico, Juan Tadeo, explained:

El estilo de vida “mirrey” probablemente pueda ser comparado al de las celebridades de la cultura popular del mundo occidental, basados en el glamour, el consumismo, el exceso (o una aspiración desmedida hacia ellos) y el despotismo. Se trata quizás de una apología al clasismo, profundamente arraigado en el país […].

The “mirrey” lifestyle can probably be compared to that of Western pop culture celebrities. This is based on glamour, consumerism, excess (or a disproportionate aspiration towards it), and despotism. Perhaps it has to do with advocating classism, which is deeply rooted in the country.

More recently, Mexico's class-based society has welcomed a new group: the so-called ladies and gentlemans [sic]. In an article for the newspaper EL PAÍS, Óscar Granados defines this new group in the following words:

Son una clase privilegiada en México. Su poder es inmensurable. Golpean a policías, clausuran restaurantes y agreden a las personas que no son de su misma clase. En su mayoría son hijos de políticos, personajes del espectáculo, incluso hasta legisladores que se creen diferentes por su posición social.

They are a privileged class in Mexico. Their power is immeasurable. They hit police officers, they shut down restaurants, and assault people that are not part of their social class. They are mostly children of politicians, show-business figures, and even lawmakers who consider themselves to be special because of their social position.

One cases that has been widely discussed in Mexico's social media took place in Mexico City, in the area of Polanco, one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the capital. As seen in a YouTube video, a police officer was attacked by two women he stopped after a traffic collision. Both women reacted violently and aggressively, using heated language (they called him “salaried employee” repeatedly in a pejorative way) to let the officer know they were above him socially—all this while punching and threatening him:

It wasn't long before the incident became widely known, and the hashtag #LadyPolanco fast gained notoriety on Twitter. People used the hashtag to refer to this particular case and other similar ones, quoting the women's insults for laughs:

Without any arguments. “I am Lady Polanco”, “Do you know So-and-So?… Well, he is my husband” (today a costumer told the supermarket checker) LOL!

The prefix “lady” is used by social lazybones, examples #LadyChiles, #LadyPolanco, #LadyGaga.

#LadyIMSS (IMSS is the Mexican social security institute), #LadyPolanco, #LadyÁngeles and now comes… #LadyGoliat.

Blessed art thou among women #LadyChiles #LadyBoobs #LadyTlalpan #LadyIMSS #LadyPolanco #LadyChapultepec. What would we do without you!

In April 2013, there was another case involving Andrea Benítez, the daughter of Humberto Benítez Treviño, who was at the time the acting Consumer Protection Attorney (a government institution known in Mexico as Profeco). The scandal with Benítez unfolded when she showed up at a restaurant without a reservation, behaving rudely, when she wasn't seated ahead of other customers:

De acuerdo a la propietaria del restaurante Gabriela López, la joven aguardó su turno durante media hora, tiempo en donde hizo patente su descontento por tener que esperar como cualquier “hijo de vecino” al apersonarse en el local sin reservación previa.
Tras rehusar una mesa en el interior del restaurante […] comenzó a amenazar a los empleados del Bristot y a “charolear” con que su papá era el Procurador General del Consumidor.
Dos horas después, efectivamente llegaron tres inspectores del Profeco al lugar y colocaron tres sellos de clausura por supuestas “irregularidades” en el sistema de reservaciones de mesas […].

According to restaurant owner, Gabriela López, the young lady waited for her turn for about half an hour while she made evident her annoyance for having to wait just like “anybody else” after showing up at the restaurant without having a reservation.
After refusing a table inside the restaurant […] she started to threat the bistro employees and to “bluff” with her dad being Consumer Protection Attorney.
Two hours later, three inspectors of Profeco arrived there and set up three seals indicating closure due to alleged “irregularities” with the reservations system […].

After learning of the incident, Benítez apologized for his daughter's actions in a public statement to a local newspaper, calling her behavior “inappropriate” and an “overreaction.”

In the end, however, Benítez resigned. After this, the hashtag #LadyProfeco soon appeared, and despite the passage of more than two years, the discussion is still alive on Twitter, where users point at abuses of power using angry tweets and sarcasm:

#LadyProfeco clearly shows that in Mexico, under the [ruling party] PRI, games and use of power and justice happens as they please. They will never change. Bastards.

Keep voting for the [ruling party] PRI. In the end, spoiled daddy's girls as #LadyProfeco don't use state offices as they please.

The importance of social networks, a wonderful weapon we citizens have against abuses, we have two already #LadyProfeco and #korenfeldrenuncia [A reference to former the General Director of Water National Commission resigning after being accused of misappropriating public resources]

Unfortunately, these social tensions and issues in officialdom are not limited to Mexico. In the past two years alone, there have been similar cases of abuse in Peru, for example.

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