Mexico’s Mariachis Are Struggling Amid The Pandemic But People Are Showing Up To Support Them In The Best Way
The Coronavirus pandemic has wrought destruction on entire communities. Millions of people have been left without work and struggling to figure out a way forward, a way to support their families, amid the economic consequences of a global pandemic.
Some of us have been furloughed, others let go with the help of unemployment or a severance package, but far too many have been let go with no help at all: such is the case of Mexico’s large mariachi community.
For the first time in three months, the sound of mariachi filled Mexico City’s Plaza Garibaldi.
EArly in the morning, more than 200 mariachi musicians returned to Plaza Garibaldi – Mexico City’s unofficial mariachi hub – and filled the plaza with music.
The musicians hoped to bring attention to the dire economic situation that so many of them face. Thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic and resulting government shut down orders, mariachis have seen a devastating drop in their usual source of income. People have not been able to visit Plaza Garibaldi or hire mariachis for parties such as weddings and quinceañeras, which is having a hugely negative impact on musicians.
“We want help, we want the people to know that the mariachis live on,” musician Marcos Montes told the newspaper El Universal. “We want to work and need the support of people — perhaps not with handouts but by coming to see us and by hiring us.”
The bands showed up to play music but also receive much needed aide.
The charity Agrega organized the event, making sure that those who showed up maintained a safe distance as they gathered and played classics like México Lindo y Querido. The musicians also wore masks at the request of the organization.
Agrega works with businesses and individuals to raise money and provide food to feed the hungry. It is currently raising money for supplies via their fundraising website.
The distribution of care packages, which are meant to last six weeks, are part of a campaign Agrega calls “Al Pie de tu Ventana” (“Just Outside Your Window”), a reference to the common sight of mariachis hired to serenade people outside their window.
Many Mexicans are employed in the informal economy – including mariachis – and have received little to no help from the government.
It’s estimated that about 60%-70% of Mexicans are employed in the country’s informal economy: taco stands, food vendors, street artists, domestic workers, and musicians. Many have received little to no help from the government, despite being among the most vulnerable groups.
At Plaza Garibaldi, musicians of all ages and genders came out to play and receive much-needed help.
Jacinto Martínez, 71, said he has spent his entire life as a mariachi. “I’m the son of a mariachi,” he said. “I was taught to play the violin since age 8, and I don’t know how to do anything else. Now my children are helping me to keep going.”
Meanwhile, the Coronavirus pandemic continues to rage across the country.
As of Friday, June 26, Mexico has more than 200,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and more than 25,000 people have died. The country is now considered a global hotspot for the virus as numbers continue to reach record highs each day.
Despite the ongoing crisis, the government will be allowing phased reopenings beginning next week.