Remember that car blocking the street because it’s parked in an illegal spot? Or that young man taking a seat designated for senior citizens on the bus or subway? Enter Los Supercivicos (difficult to translate precisely but can roughly be taken to mean “the Super-Citizens”). A Mexican duo who have become heroes of everyday life by fighting apathy and trying to foster much needed civic-mindedness in Mexico City. With a dose of humor of course.
Defining civic-mindedness neatly is no simple task, and may have different meanings in different cultures. At the time of this article’s publishing, a Google search of the term brings up as first option a paper authored by Singapore’s Civil Service College, in which authors Cheng Wan Hua and Khoo Ee Wan themselves acknowledge that this term is “seldom clearly defined.” For the sake of brevity we will use this term to denote behavior of a citizen that respects the laws and contributes to the proper functioning of society and the welfare of its community.
Sadly, we know that this is not always put to practice. In Mexico City, a pervasive lack of civic-mindedness is held responsible for the vicious cycle of apathy and transgression which negatively affects everyone’s ability to get on with their lives – and get along really.
Arturo Hernandez and Alex Marin y Kall (also known as ‘Ese Wey‘; roughly “That guy”; “That schmuck”), a.k.a. Los Supercivicos, decided it was high time the cycle was broken. Once a week they go out with their cameras onto the streets of the capital performing ‘happenings’ to denounce government negligence in their communities and expose citizens who show no regard for their community.
“The common denominator of the Mexican mind, of people who are good but commit many civic mistakes, is the ‘Nomás tantito’ (just a little bit),” Hernández told BBC Mundo. “The cigarette butt ‘is just a bit of dirt’; blocking a wheelchair access ramp, ‘just for a little bit’; boxing someone in a parking spot by parking beside that person’s car, ‘just for a second.’”
The idea of Los Supercívicos originated 10 years ago when Hernández nearly had an accident because of the negligence of another driver. Determined to do something about it, he started to walk the streets of Mexico City with a camera exposing the bad habits of people, which attracted the attention of the national media.
Unfortunately, the duo found that when an offer was made by a television network to produce a show, a great deal of their work was censored, something which has been credited to their frequent complaints against politicians and political parties. Eventually, the duo finallyresorted to uploading their material online, exhibiting those who break the rules ‘just a little bit’.
“The most important thing is to change the idea that people can’t change,” said Marin y Kall to BBC Mundo. “They can change… The efforts of two people may not change the world, but if everybody took down a sign…”
This is in reference to the duo’s practice of clipping and removing massive campaign posters during election time.
If you’d like to know more about the duo’s antics, check out their website: http://tomatetujugo.com/web/