The KONY 2012 campaign, created by the San Diego-based non-profit organization, Invisible Children, took the social media sphere by storm this week. The campaign is a documentary named after Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a guerilla group originally based in Uganda, Africa that is said to have abducted at least 60,000 children. It aims to raise awareness of the various human rights violations committed by the LRA, which was established in the late 1980s. While there has been some criticism of the documentary’s take on the issue, as well as criticism of the funding of the non-profit itself, there is no doubt that the KONY 2012 campaign is viral marketing at its best. The video already has over 21 million views on YouTube and raising awareness of human rights violations is a commendable attribute for any organization.
However, if the millions of Americans now inspired by the social activism movement truly believe the KONY 2012 message that, “where you live shouldn’t determine if you live,” then I’m curious to see how many could recognize the name: “El Chapo.”
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is the Mexican drug kingpin of an alliance between powerful drug traffickers known as the Sinaloa Cartel and is the most wanted man in the western hemisphere. Guzman and his cartel are responsible for numerous human rights violations that include kidnapping, torture, and public massacres of innocent civilians, all in the name of establishing dominance over other cartels as the major supplier of the illicit drug market. Additionally, in a desperate attempt to curb the violence between the drug cartels, the Mexican government and its military and police forces have been accused of human rights violations as well.
Communities in various regions of Mexico, especially in northern states nearer to the border, live in fear of losing loved ones to the chaos. Many are either enticed by the financial promise of the drug market not afforded to them through the regular job market or fall victim to the random acts of violence in the country.
With hopes of raising American awareness of the human rights violations in Juarez, Mexico, photographer Dominic Bracco II shot a documentary focusing on conditions there. REUTERS has also contributed to raising awareness with a visual documentation of life in Juarez. And in 201o, Ni Una Mas sought to raise awareness of the murders in Juarez as well as to remember all of the women who were victims of these crimes.
If Americans are serious about having a vested interest in raising awareness of human rights violations around the world, then they should first look in their country’s own back yard. While no one is arguing what is, or is not, newsworthy, or which crimes merit more attention from the international community; Americans supporting the KONY 2012 campaign should also take the time to consider and raise awareness of the human rights violations occurring in Mexico, and in other regions of the world, partially as a direct result of some of their government’s own policies.