A trio of male Mexican influencers are under criminal investigation after posting a video to social media in which they allegedly paid a migrant with a fake 500 peso bill to allow one of them to touch his genitals.
The video by a group of influencers known on social media as the “Chiquirrucas” was live streamed on August 8 from outside a migrant shelter in the western metropolis of Guadalajara, where the incident took place. In a statement published the next day, the shelter condemned the video, saying that it represented an “abuse and mockery of one of the most vulnerable sectors in the country.”
The local prosecutor’s office announced that it was opening an investigation “since the acts that are observed could constitute a crime,” but that it could prove difficult to locate the migrant, whose testimony would likely be needed to file charges.
Meanwhile, the controversy renewed a debate about classism and the treatment of marginalized communities by Mexico's elite, the dark side of which has often played out live on the social media accounts of the country's internet personalities.
In one of the more startling examples, a famous Mexican influencer who called herself “YosStop” on social media was charged in July with child pornography charges after she shared videos related to the rape of a 16-year old girl and slut-shamed the victim.
Over the past week, Mexican social media lit up with posts denouncing dehumanizing behavior of the migrant, including many that noted that this was not the first time the Chiquirrucas - who are gay and affluent -have engaged in these kinds of acts.
A video from earlier this year showed three members of the Chiquirrucas, who have over 25,000 followers on both Youtube and Instagram, following a young homeless man who they saw peeing in the street. As two of the men sat inside a Mercedes-Benz convertible recording a live stream while snickering and making jokes, the driver got out and spoke with the man, pretending to offer him some work.
Another video circulating on social media appears to show a member of the group along with other well-known influencers groping a male waiter.
The latest incident appears to follow the same pattern. The video has been deleted from social media, but according to the statement by the shelter, it showed how group members Juan Carlos Villalobos, Fer Rivera and Gabriel Roth abused the migrant and then drove away laughing about how the bill they gave him was fake. They then told viewers that whenever they want a migrant, they can go to the shelter.
Mexico’s top anti-discrimination agency wrote in a statement that there should be “zero tolerance” for any kind of sexual abuse committed against migrants and lamented that cases such as this one are “not isolated.”
The videos of abuse by the Chiquirrucas and other gay influencers have been used to stoke homophobia on social media. But LGBTQ groups were among the first to condemn the behavior.
“Silence in the face of these actions makes us accomplices. Trying to be an influencer at the expense of others is not okay,” said an LGBTQ coalition on Twitter.