NACIÓN

Mexican artisans return to barter system in face of economic crisis

The artisans decided to leave the social isolation restrictions and have gone out into the city to exchange their handicrafts for food and supplies

  • EFE
  • 06/05/2020
  • 13:35 hrs
  • Escuchar
Mexican artisans return to barter system in face of economic crisis
Susana has her origins in the Mixteca, a mountainous region that is located between the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Puebla in southern Mexico. (EFE)

Artisans of various indigenous ethnic groups residing in Mexico City have in recent days started exchanging their handicrafts for goods due to the health and economic crisis caused by covid-19.

With no customers to sell their products to and urged on by the lack of income, the artisans decided to leave the social isolation restrictions promoted by the authorities and have gone out into the city to exchange their handicrafts for food and supplies.

"The contingency did not allow us to leave and we took shelter during the quarantine, but we could not stay longer... we had to go out and find a way to help ourselves and others," Susana said Tuesday in an interview with EFE.

Susana has her origins in the Mixteca, a mountainous region that is located between the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Puebla in southern Mexico.

The woman and her mother go to the well-off neighborhood of Narvarte to offer handicrafts in woven natural palm from the Ajusco area in the south of the city, where a community of artisans is housed.

"It is a simple and humble community where artisans live... but we have helped each other," said the woman, who came up with the idea of announcing her exchange on social media networks at the weekend and people quickly arrived with food in the kilos and hundreds of products.

"Everything we are receiving, and they have brought us, we have shared among the community," said Susana, who said they realized they had dozens of handicrafts at home and that with them they could make exchanges.

With prices ranging from 40 to 170 pesos (between $1.67 to $7) Susana offers tablecloths, bags and fans that her family weaves and that stand out with their shapes and bright colors.

"The intention is to help and support each other... in this time of crisis," said Héctor Salazar, who delivered basic baskets and hygiene products.

A group of about 25 indigenous people from the Mazahua, Otomí, Mixteca, Triqui, Purépecha and Tsotsil ethnic groups arrived on Tuesday at the Zócalo in Mexico City to exchange their products, but the solitude of the immense plaza and the few passers-by discouraged them.

José, who works in handicrafts in Chaquira and who comes from the state of Puebla, said that the situation is urgent and that is why he wanted to exchange products, bracelets, necklaces, rings and purses – for food for himself and his family.

"There is not much work and that is why we come to the Zócalo," said the man.

Another Mazahua Indian, Virginia, traded shawls, bags, and handwoven tablecloths for pantry items.

"For a tablecloth or a shawl it takes me a month, or a month and a half (to make)," said the woman who sells them for between 200 and 300 pesos (about $8.3 and $12.5).

Confirmed cases of covid-19 in Mexico currently total 24,905 with 2,271 deaths.

Based on mathematical models, the government of Mexico considers that the coronavirus epidemic in the country is in its most contagious phase and that the peak will occur around Wednesday and then begin to drop.

(María José Pardo)