Things That Matter

For The First Time In 500 Years, Mexico’s Famed Guerrero Market Is Closing And It’s Having A Huge Impact On The Community

Mexico is home to thriving mercados that provide much of the nation’s beautiful and diverse produce to locals across the country. From Mexico City’s famed La Merced (once the largest market in the Americas) to La Ciudadela (the place to get artisan Mexican goods) – these markets have been a lifeline to both vendors and consumers for hundreds of years.

Several mercados predate the arrival of Europeans to the country and are steeped in rich traditions. One such mercado that has been around – and in continuous operation – for more than 500 years is the Chilapa Sunday tianguis in Mexico’s Guerrero state. But now, thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s been forced to close its doors for the first time in its history.

The closure of the Guerrero Market will have severe repercussions for the community.

Raul Barragán / Flickr

The Chilapa municipal government notified the more than 1,000 vendors who set up their booths under the plastic tarps each Sunday that the tianguis would be cancelled as of yesterday, and would remain closed for the two following Sundays.

The pandemic had already begun to take its toll on the weekly flow of goods in Chilapa, as the number of visitors has decreased dramatically during the crisis. For weeks, the market ran at minimum capacity, covering local demand but little more. Often vendors could barely sell of more than a quarter of the goods they were bringing.

Now the subsistence farmers, artisans and other local and regional merchants who depend on the tianguis for their livelihood don’t even have the option to barter their goods, a custom that is still practiced in this and other such markets in Mexico.

One of the oldest markets in Mexico, the Chilapa tianguis has persisted in spite of adversity, especially during the last decade, due to drug-related violence.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

The situation came to a head in 2014 when the violence severely slowed down market activity, but did not stop it completely. Many rural transportation companies suspended services, making it difficult for farmers to make it to the city to sell their goods. Others never returned: they were either killed or fled the insecurity.

The violence kept market activity to a minimum for years, but nothing was able to stop it completely, until now.

The crisis has hit those in the informal economy hard.

Credit: Raul Barragán / Flickr

The coronavirus is gutting economies around the world, but the damage is proving particularly damaging in Mexico, a country that was already in a slump before the pandemic hit.

Some street vendors in Baja California Sur have even resorted to bartering directly for food to survive in the absence of the tourists on which they depend for sales. Such vendors commonly earn just enough for them and their families to get by day to day and do not have the option to wait out the Covid-19 pandemic in home isolation.

“I need food in order to feed my children, that’s why I’m exchanging my hats for food,” said Margarita, a street vendor originally from Oaxaca, told Mexico News Daily. She supports her family by selling woven sunhats from Oaxaca, Guerrero and Puebla.

The vendors in Los Cabos aren’t the only ones in the country who have had to adapt to the caprice of the Covid-19 pandemic. Street merchants from Acapulco to Cuernavaca to Mazatlán have been changing out their normal products for face masks in order to meet demand and be able to get by.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Peru’s Indigenous Are Turning To Ancestral Medicines To Fight The Coronavirus

Culture

Peru’s Indigenous Are Turning To Ancestral Medicines To Fight The Coronavirus

Joao Laet / Getty Images

With news headlines like “How Covid-19 could destroy indigenous communities”, it’s hard to understate the affect that the Coronavirus has had on Indigenous communities across the world.

Even before the pandemic hit, native populations were already at increased risk of health complications, poor access to medical care, lack of proper education, and even premature death. The pandemic has only exacerbated these issues as government programs and NGOs who delivered aid to far flung communities have grind to a halt.

However, many communities have started taking the matter into their own hands by creating their own impromptu healthcare systems based on ancestral techniques and others have barricaded off their villages from the outside world in an effort to stem the flow of the virus.

In Peru, many Indigenous communities are turning to centuries-old medicines to fight back against the Coronavirus.

The Coronavirus has had a devastating impact on Peru – the country with the world’s highest per capita Covid-19 mortality rate. At particular risk is the nation’s large Indigenous community, who often lack proper access to education efforts and medical care. This has forced many Indigenous groups to find their own remedies.

In the Ucayali region, government rapid response teams deployed to a handful of Indigenous communities have found infection rates as high as 80% through antibody testing. Food and medicine donations have reached only a fraction of the population. Many say the only state presence they have seen is from a group responsible for collecting bodies of the dead.

At least one community, the Indigenous Shipibo from Peru’s Amazon region, have decided to rely on the wisdom of their ancestors. With hospitals far away, doctors stretch too thin and a lack of beds, many have accepted the alternative medicine.

In a report by the Associated Press, one villager, Mery Fasabi, speaks about gathering herbs, steeping them in boiling water and instructing her loved ones to breathe in the vapors. She also makes syrups of onion and ginger to help clear congested airways.

“We had knowledge about these plants, but we didn’t know if they’d really help treat COVID,” the teacher told the AP. “With the pandemic we are discovering new things.”

One of the plants the Shipibo are using is known locally as ‘matico.’ The plant has green leaves and brightly colored flowers. And although Fasabi admits that these ancestral remedies are by no means a cure, the holistic approach is proving successful. She says that “We are giving tranquility to our patients,” through words of encouragement and physical touch.

Even before the Coronavirus, Indigenous communities were at a greater risk for infectious diseases.

Indigenous peoples around the globe tend to be at higher risk from emerging infectious diseases compared to other populations. During the H1N1 pandemic in Canada in 2009, for example, aboriginal Canadians made up 16% of admissions to hospital, despite making up 3.4% of the population.

Covid-19 is no exception. In the US, one in every 2,300 indigenous Americans has died, compared to one in 3,600 white Americans.

Indigenous groups are particularly vulnerable to dying from Covid-19 because they often live days away from professional medical help. As of July 28, the disease had killed 1,108 indigenous people and there had been 27,517 recorded cases, with the majority in Brazil, according to data published by Red Eclesial Panamazonia (Repam).

Some communities are turning inward to survive COVID-19, barricading villages and growing their own food.

Despite the immense threat they face, Indigenous communities are fighting back.

“I am amazed to see the ways that indigenous peoples are stepping up to provide support where governments have not,” Tauli-Corpuz, a teacher at Mexico’s UNAM, told The Conversation. “They are providing PPE and sanitation, making their own masks, and ensuring that information on Covid-19 is available in local languages, and are distributing food and other necessities.”

They are also choosing to isolate. In Ecuador’s Siekopai nation, about 45 Indigenous elders, adults and children traveled deep into the forest to their ancestral heartland of Lagartococha to escape exposure to the Coronavirus, says the nation’s president Justino Piaguaje.

Despite their best efforts, many experts are extremely concerned for the survival of many Indigenous communities.

Credit: Ginebra Peña / Amazonian Alliance

They are already facing the ‘tipping point’ of ecological collapse due to increased threats of deforestation, fires, industrial extraction, agribusiness expansion and climate change,” Amazon Watch executive director Leila Salazar-Lopez told UNESCO of Amazonian Indigenous groups.

“Now, the pandemic has created one more crisis, and as each day passes, the risk of ethnocide becomes more real.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Viva Mexico Is Trending On Twitter Proving That Mexico Is More Than Just A Country

Culture

Viva Mexico Is Trending On Twitter Proving That Mexico Is More Than Just A Country

Carlos Vivas / Getty Images

It is Mexico’s Independence Day and that means that Mexicans around the world are honoring their roots. Twitter is buzzing with people who might not be in Mexico but they will forever have Mexico in their hearts. Here are just a few of the loving messages from people who are Mexican through and through.

Viva Mexico is trending on social media and the tweets are filled with love and passion for the country.

Mexico received its independence from Spain on September 16, 1810 and since then the day has been marked with celebration. The day is marked with parties of pride and culture no matter where you are in the world.

Mexicans everywhere are letting their Mexican flag fly.

Tbh, who doesn’t want to be Mexican to enjoy the day of puro pinche pride? The celebration for Mexican Independence Day starts on Sept. 15 with El Grito. The tradition is that the president of Mexico stands on the balcony on Sept. 15 at 11 p.m. and rings the same church bell that Roman Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang in 1810 to trigger the Mexican Revolution.

People are loving all of the celebrations for their homeland.

The original El Grito took place in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato in 1810. While most El Grito celebrations take place at the National Palace, some presidents, especially on their last year, celebrate El Grito in the town where it originated.

Honestly, no one celebrates their independence day like Mexico and we love them for it.

¡Viva Mexico! Mexico lindo y querido. How are you celebrating the Mexican Independence Day this year? Show us what you have planned.

READ: Many Mexicans Are Calling Out Fragile Masculinity As Some Continue To Protest A Controversial Zapata Painting

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com