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Marven, mejor conocida como "Lady Tacos de Canasta", es oaxaqueña y se identifica como 'muxe', el tercer género indígena zapoteca. 
Marven, better known as "Lady Tacos de Canasta," is Oaxacan and identifies as 'muxe,' the third Zapotec indigenous gender. Photo: Forbes.

"Lady Tacos de Canasta": From the streets of Mexico to the "diversity" candidate in the 2021 elections

Her appearance on a Netflix show brought her fame and now she is running for Congress in Mexico City in one of the strangest elections in the country's history.

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Politics is often divided between those who rule and and those who suffer from these rulings. But sometimes an ordinary citizen - not a graduate of a great faculty, nor someone who has been raised in the bosom of a party - steps forward and decides to step out of invisibility to do justice. But a brush with stardom can also help....

That's what happened to Marven, popularly known as Mexico City's "Lady Tacos de Canasta". A street-side taco vendor who rose to fame in 2019 for her participation in the Netflix show Taco Chronicles.

Born in the southern state of Oaxaca, the 36-year-old taco vendor of Mixteco origin has always identified herself as 'muxe', the third Zapotec indigenous gender. 

For a long time, Marven earned a nickname on the streets of Mexico City as "Lady Tacos de Canasta" because she rode her bicycle through the streets selling soft, steamed tacos dressed in a colorful skirt, calling out, "Tacos de canasta, tacos!"

But during the worst months of the coronavirus pandemic, police officers tried to confiscate her bicycle and basket, accusing her of violating health regulations. 

Marven replied that she was just trying to make a living, and the result of the police struggle was, according to Reuters, a hail of tacos scattered on the ground.

"All my life I have been targeted because of my sexual orientation and persecuted for selling on the street," Marven told Reuters. 

With the fame she had already gained from her appearance on Taco Chronicles, where she talked about the difficulties of being transgender and working selling tacos on the tough streets of Mexico City, Marven stepped forward and opened a small restaurant. 

But she still needed to take her struggle further. 

Now the beloved "Lady Tacos de Canasta" is running for Congress in Mexico City in the upcoming June elections, which promise to be one of the most important elections in the country's history.

The muxe's goal is very clear: to fight for the rights of LGBTQ people and workers in Mexico's vast informal economy.

"I don't want anyone else to be humiliated for working honestly," said Marven, recalling the incident last year from her Oaxacan food restaurant.

Marven is backed by the new political party Equidad, Libertad y Género and the name that will appear on her ballot is "Juan Francisco Martínez", accompanied by "Lady Tacos de Canasta", something that for the muxe vendor is "my way of showing the world my gender duality."

For the new people's candidate, politicians have been totally ineffective and these diverse elections, in which artists, sportswomen and beauty queens have been presented, are a way of telling the traditional establishment that the citizens have had enough. 

"Mexicans are fed up, we need real change," she said.

Misses, singers and athletes

The 2021 elections in Mexico will be referenced and studied in the future not only for being among the most disputed in its history or for being held at a time of change for the country, but also because never before have there been so many candidates who have changed one scenario for another, supported above all by emerging parties seeking greater visibility and, of course, votes. 

On the one hand, there are three former beauty queens: former Miss Universe Lupita Jones, who ran for governor of Baja California with the Va por BC coalition (PAN-PRD and PRI), and Ana María Romo Fonseca, former Miss Zacatecas in 1987 and who knows if she will be the future governor of Zacatecas supported by Movimiento Ciudadano. 

Also Geraldine Ponce, exMiss Nayarit 2016, confirmed her registration as a Morena candidate for the municipal presidency of Tepic, the state capital.

Among the singers, Francisca Viveros Barradas, better known as Paquita la del Barrio, who is seeking a local deputation for Los Altos, in Veracruz, and is supported by Movimiento Ciudadano. 

Barcroft Media Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The heirs of beloved celebrities, such as Vicente Fernández Jr. and the son of singer José José, Joel José, are running for municipal seats in Jalisco and Mexico City. Likewise, the former singer of Los Ángeles Azules, Héctor Hernández and Ernesto D'Alessio.

Also, Yalitza Aparicio's sister, Edith Aparicio, joined the electoral race to become a federal deputy in Oaxaca, and the controversial actor and businessman Alfredo Adama, who is involved in several fraud and family violence scandals. 

And even former footballers such as Arturo Carmona and former Big Brother participants in Mexico. 

The list is long and the seats limited, but it is likely that we are witnessing a shift that is only understandable in times when visibility has become a golden ether that can turn a campaign around. 

A desperate attempt to turn the tide in the country, an exercise in radical democracy, or reality TV at its finest? How do you see it?

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