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WWE’s Rey Mysterio: ‘I’m representing my people’

In the age of US President Donald Trump, Mexican-American wrestler Rey Mysterio hopes to promote Latino pride, whether it’s his colourful luchador attire or his iconic mask.  It was a major reason that pushed Mysterio back to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) last year, after having left the WWE back in 2015. “I am representing my…

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WWE’s Rey Mysterio: ‘I’m representing my people’

In the age of US President Donald Trump, Mexican-American wrestler Rey Mysterio hopes to promote Latino pride, whether it’s his colourful luchador attire or his iconic mask. 

It was a major reason that pushed Mysterio back to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) last year, after having left the WWE back in 2015.

“I am representing my people. I feel it, I know it, I’ve known it from day one, and it’s the most important part of my journey,” he told Al Jazeera.

Arguably the most successful wrestler of Mexican origin in WWE history, Mysterio had 12 title reigns during his previous 13-year stint. He has also won the world championship three times.

But today, he recognises his presence in WWE means a whole lot more than just championships, given the difficulties facing his community in the United States.

“Doing my part in the entertainment world to be able to be a distraction whether for a second or forever for my people, it’s a blessing to be able to do that,” Mysterio said. “It’s very hard to have everybody tuned in in the same state of mind, where we all get equal opportunities and we all get equal love from each and every race that is out there. Unfortunately, some people do not think that way.”

At a time when the US federal law enforcement says hate crimes are spiking, many critics point the finger at President Trump and his administration’s rhetoric and policies. 

Trump has attempted to drum up fear of migrants and refugees, deploying troops to the border with Mexico and vowing to build a wall along the frontier.

Mysterio, who spent part of his childhood crossing the border from Tijuana to San Diego each day to attend school, worries that Trump “is definitely not helping”.

“A lot of people have been protesting about it,” he said. “A wall is definitely not the solution.”

‘Promoting Latinos’

Mysterio’s return couldn’t have come at a better time, according to broadcaster Cristian Moreno of ESPN Deportes, the network’s Spanish language sports channel.

“Rey Mysterio, being the great charismatic figure that he is, does a great job promoting how Latinos are hard-working, good people that come to this great country to try and make a better life for themselves,” Moreno told Al Jazeera.

“While some of the points of the Trump administration make sense, much of their rhetoric is absurd, and I believe other Latinos with big platforms should feel encouraged to follow Mysterio in shining to the public eye the good that Latinos contribute,” Moreno added.

Mysterio nearly crossed paths with Trump 12 years ago as part of a WWE storyline, according to former WWE creative writer Court Bauer.

In the supposed plot, Trump was at war with WWE chairman Vince McMahon, which culminated in a showdown at WWE’s showpiece event, Wrestlemania. Each would select someone to fight for them, and Mysterio was in line to represent Trump. But in the end, Trump picked Bobby Lashley.

Explaining that he was unaware of those plans, Mysterio says it is difficult to imagine himself representing Trump in such a scenario.

“Imagine some of those images popping up at this time if I was that person,” he joked. “It would have been interesting to see those pictures floating around these days; Donald Trump with the Mexican-American wrestler Rey Mysterio.”

Rey Mysterio says he takes pride in his Mexican ancestry [Courtesy of WWE] 

Mysterio’s motivation to continue making a difference stems from his own personal struggle. Standing at just 5 feet 4 inches (162.5 cm), he admits that he didn’t have a “normal” physique for a business filled with giants.

But he didn’t let that stop him. Having started training at just eight years old, he would practise every day after school for hours; honing his high-flying craft under the tutelage of his uncle Rey Mysterio Senior, who was a famous luchador in Mexico.

He debuted on the independent circuit at just 14 years old, earning less than $20 a fight in those days. His persistence eventually paid off: he moved on to professional circuits like ECW and WCW before landing at WWE.

‘Leave something behind’

Now a shoo-in for the WWE Hall of Fame, Mysterio believes one of the best ways he can serve his people is making sure the company has a Latino core on its roster that will be there long after he’s gone.

“I want to leave something behind. A lot of fans will still be talking about Rey Mysterio after I am gone. But my purpose isn’t just to leave memories behind,” he said. “My purpose is to help those up-and-coming Latino superstars that are bringing in this lucha libre style, and help them revolutionise the sport.”

Despite being just months into his full-time comeback, Mysterio has already had a string of matches with promising Mexican talent Andrade.

Although not a single Latino performer featured on Wrestlemania’s main card last year, the battles between Mysterio and Andrade have created a buzz in the online wrestling community, which is often difficult to please.

“After going head-to-head with Andrade, the fans are expecting more great matches, and that’s what we’re hoping to do,” he said.

Arguing that he is still at the peak of his career, Mysterio hopes to maintain his recent calibre of performance in order to positively affect his people and inspire future luchadores.

“I know I’m there to represent how I was raised, the lucha libre style… I will know it until I have to hang up my mask.”

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Saudi Aramco says customers unaffected by Houthi attack on Jeddah

Monday’s attack knocked out a tank that contained 10 percent of all fuel stored a the Jeddah plant, Saudi Aramco official says.Oil giant Saudi Aramco says customers were unaffected by an attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on a petroleum products distribution plant in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea city of Jeddah. One of the facility’s tanks…

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Saudi Aramco says customers unaffected by Houthi attack on Jeddah

Monday’s attack knocked out a tank that contained 10 percent of all fuel stored a the Jeddah plant, Saudi Aramco official says.Oil giant Saudi Aramco says customers were unaffected by an attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on a petroleum products distribution plant in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea city of Jeddah.
One of the facility’s tanks was hit by a missile in early on Monday.
The attack knocked out 10 percent of all fuel that was stored at the plant, a Saudi Aramco official said on Tuesday, adding that the tank – one of 13 at the facility – is currently out of action.
The official described the site as a “critical facility” that distributes more than 120,000 barrels of products per day.
A fire caused by the attack was extinguished in about 40 minutes with no casualties, he said.
The attack was confirmed by a Saudi official who told the Saudi state news agency (SPA) it was a “terrorist attack with a projectile”.
The oil company’s production and export facilities are mostly in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern province, more than 1,000km (621 miles) away from Jeddah, across the country.
Announcing the attack, a military spokesman for the Houthis warned that “operations will continue”.
Yahya Sarea said the attack was carried out with a Quds-2 type winged missile. He also posted a satellite image with the label: “North Jeddah bulk plant-Saudi Aramco”.
“The strike was very accurate, and ambulances and fire engines rushed to the target,” Sarea said.
That facility is just southeast of Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, an important site that handles incoming Muslim pilgrims en route to nearby Mecca.
Renewed violence
Yemen has been mired in conflict since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in March 2015 to restore the Yemeni government, which had been removed from power in the capital Sanaa by Houthi forces in late 2014.
Cross-border attacks by Houthi forces have escalated since late May when a truce prompted by the novel coronavirus pandemic expired. The Saudi-led coalition has responded with air raids on Houthi-held territory.
The Houthis control most of north Yemen and most large urban areas. They say they are fighting a corrupt system.
Sarea said the attack was carried out in response to the Saudi-led coalition’s actions in Yemen.
The claimed attack came just after a visit by outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia to see Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The kingdom also just hosted the annual G20 summit, which concluded on Sunday.

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US appoints first Venezuela ambassador in a decade amid tensions

The two nations have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010 when relations began to fray under late President Hugo Chávez.The United States has its first ambassador for Venezuela in 10 years despite Washington having no diplomats at its Caracas embassy amid a breakdown in relations. James Story’s nomination as ambassador was confirmed on Wednesday by a…

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US appoints first Venezuela ambassador in a decade amid tensions

The two nations have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010 when relations began to fray under late President Hugo Chávez.The United States has its first ambassador for Venezuela in 10 years despite Washington having no diplomats at its Caracas embassy amid a breakdown in relations.
James Story’s nomination as ambassador was confirmed on Wednesday by a US Senate voice vote.
The South Carolina native takes the job that he will carry out from the capital of neighbouring Colombia as Venezuela endures an historic economic and political crisis.
The US and Venezuela have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010 when relations first started to fray under late President Hugo Chávez.
The two nations totally broke diplomatic ties last year, each withdrawing its diplomats shortly after Washington backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country’s leader.
Story, 50, will likely play a key role in helping guide US policy on Venezuela during the transition of President-elect Joe Biden.
Biden’s win has sparked debate among those who back President Donald Trump’s hardline approach of isolating his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro and others who say it is time for a new course.
The critics say heavy sanctions have failed to remove Maduro from power, opening Venezuela to US competitors such as China, Russia and Iran, while making life harder on millions of residents of the South American nation.
The US leads a coalition of dozens of nations that rejected Maduro following his election in 2018 to a second term in a vote Washington called fraudulent.
The US has since heavily sanctioned Maduro, his inner circle and the state-run oil firm, attempting to isolate them.
The Trump administration offered a $15m reward for Maduro’s arrest after a US court indicted him on drug charges.

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‘UAE, Israel can stamp out Islamophobia, anti-Semitism’

People to people contact, academic, civil society exchanges and cooperation will go a long way in change mindsets, Ban Ki-moon says. Countries like the UAE and Israel who have signed the Abraham Accords should stamp out anti-semitism and Islamophobia and devise curriculums to educate their youth on the significance of the peace deal, said former…

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‘UAE, Israel can stamp out Islamophobia, anti-Semitism’

People to people contact, academic, civil society exchanges and cooperation will go a long way in change mindsets, Ban Ki-moon says.

Countries like the UAE and Israel who have signed the Abraham Accords should stamp out anti-semitism and Islamophobia and devise curriculums to educate their youth on the significance of the peace deal, said former UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
He said that one of the major achievements of the deal – considered a huge political and diplomatic win – is that it opens up a “cooperative space not only for leaders but also for citizens of all the participating countries”
“The architects of this important agreement must ensure that the Accords is not an agreement just for their countries but for their people. Abraham Accords should serve as a launchpad for the sustainable peace and prosperity in the region,” Ban Ki-moon said while addressing a virtual conference on ‘The Abraham Accords: Advancing UAE-Israel, Regional, and Muslim-Jewish Cooperation’ organised by UK-based Emirates Society.
Stressing on the important role of education in building secure, peaceful, resilient and prosperous societies in both a short and long term, the Secretary General said it is his “sincere hope that the UAE and Israel and others redouble their sustained effort to educate their students and citizens – both young and old – about the significance of this important agreement and each other.”
“Devising curriculum and expanding global citizenship education as well as being aggressive about stamping out instances of anti-Semitism and islamophobia are important steps to take in this regard, he added.
He said people to people contact, academic, civil society exchanges and cooperation will go a long way in helping to change mindset and begin a dynamic new era of cooperation.
Palestinian cause
The UAE is the first GCC country and the third Arab nation to establish diplomatic relations with Israel by signing the US-brokered Abraham Accords on September 15. Bahrain and Sudan also followed suit and have signed peace deals with Israel.
The deal is considered a game changer for peace and stability in the region, as in exchange, Israel has agreed to temporarily halt annexations in the West Bank.
Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, said the UAE continues to consider the issue of a Palestinian state as the most important one but without impeding opportunities for dialogue and open communication.
She said Abraham Accords was born from a “desire to change the business as usual approach” that has mired the countries of Middle East in conflict for long.
Even as the UAE continues to work for its own national agenda, Al Hashimi said the country is “really looking to learn from each other and also to explain to one another who we are and what matters to us”.
“And it does matter to the Arab and the Muslim world that a Palestinian state in its rightful place … exists.”
Ban Ki-Moon said it would be difficult to forge lasting peace without addressing the Palestinian question as well as issues like the final status of Jerusalem and West Bank settlement.
“To truly advance the vision of peace throughout the Middle East, we should not forget that the Palestinians must be involved in determining a future that is based on security and prosperity for all people in the region. I hope that Abraham Accords can function as a springboard for invigorated action on ensuring a negotiated two-state solution aligned with the relevant UN security council resolutions.”
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Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a UAE-based journalist chasing global stories of conflict, migration and human rights. She has reported from the frontlines of the wars in Yemen and Syria and has extensively written on the refugee crisis in Bangladesh, Iraq and Europe. From interviewing Daesh militants to embedding with the UAE army in Yemen, and covering earthquakes, floods, terrorist attacks and elections, she has come out scathe-free from the most dangerous conflict zones of the world. Riding on over 14 years of experience, Anjana currently is an Assistant Editor with Khaleej Times and leads the reporting team. She often speaks about women empowerment on her Facebook page that has 40,000 plus followers.

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