Social media users in Mexico have once again sparked a lively debate about racism in this country, after a Facebook user posted a photo of a blonde beggar girl on his Facebook wall.
In the picture (see it here) a small girl is depicted asking for cash in Guadalajara. Her green eyes and blonde hair are extremely rare for beggars in Mexico, a country in wich people with European features are usually members of the middle and upper class.
But what struck a nerve with Mexican social media users, where the comments placed under the photo, by German Alvarez, the man who took the picture and posted it on his Facebook wall.
"This girl is called Alondra, and they have her selling bubble gum…in front of the chamber of commerce…the strange thing is that her [alleged] 'parents' are brown, they have other children on that street corner and none looks like her," Alvarez wrote.
Alvarez wrote that he had asked local officials to investigate if Alondra had been stolen from her family, but that local officials said they could not investigate if no relatives of Alondra had placed a complaint.
So he asked Facebook users to intercede on Alondra's behalf.
"Please share this photo, to see if anyone out there knows her," Alvarez wrote.
The photo immediately went viral, and was shared by more than 70,000 Facebook users in five days, according to the Guadalajara-based news site, Union Jalisco.
But many Facebook users also accused Alvarez of being a racist, because he was presuming that Alondra had been kidnapped, just because she had a different skin tone and hair color than the woman who claimed to be her mother.
"It's embarrassing how these issues are treated in such a racist manner…If the girl were brown, no one would denounce anything," wrote Facebook user Zuker Mc.
As controversy raged on Facebook, Alondra made it to the local press.
Officials who had initially refused to investigate the incident, decided to take action, and on Friday October 22nd, police officers separated Alondra from her parents, and placed her in an orphanage.
"The concern was the suspicion the girl had been stolen," said Lino Gonzalez, the spokesman for Jalisco's Attorney General.
"We had to respond because there was suspicion a crime had been committed," Gonzalez told journalists in Guadalajara.
A week later, DNA tests conducted by local investigators, proved that Alondra was in fact the daughter of the dark skinned woman who claimed to be her mother.
According to local media outlets, friends of Alondra's mother said that the girl was born from an affair that she had with an American man. Alondra's grandmother, who also happens to have green eyes, also presented officials with a birth certificate for the child.
Although the incident was cleared up, it got many opinion makers to reflect upon the treatment that Mexicans give each other, based on the color of their skin.
"We need to see a white girl to worry about kidnapping, trafficking of children and the exploitation of child labor," human rights activist Yali Noriega wrote in her blog. "I've never seen people wanting to circulate photos of indigenous, or simply brown kids, in order to rescue them."