Indigenous artisans in Oaxaca are making face masks out of palm fronds in order to make a living during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The native Mixtecs from the town of San Miguel Huautla normally use palm leaves to create hats, fans, cords, earrings, baskets and other handmade products, but demand for such items has dropped during the health crisis.
While conventional face masks are either impossible to find or severely overpriced — selling for 50-100 pesos (US $2-$4) a piece — Juana López and her fellow artisans are selling theirs for only 5 pesos (US $0.20) each. They appear to fit loosely, but are washable, reusable and easy to disinfect.
Such informal workers depend on tourism, mobility and lively public spaces in order to make a living, but the coronavirus pandemic has drastically diminished these activities over the last 45 days.
Selling palm products is the only source of income for these artisans who work daily to cut, dry, mature and form the leaves into various items.
With a little help from the government’s mandate to wear face masks in public, their initiative has taken off regionally, and López and her fellow artisans have found customers in nearby Asunción Nochixtlán, Huajuapan de León and other neighboring communities.
But she and friends aren’t the only innovative Oaxacans to have contributed beneficial products to the fight to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. Zapotec artisans in Juchitán de Zaragoza are making face masks adorned with the embroidered designs from the traditional blouses called huipiles worn in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region.
Coronavirus aid for Manzanillo said to be from Jalisco cartel
Presumed members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) disbursed basic food items and other necessities to poor residents of Manzanillo, Colima, over the weekend.
The armed men claimed to be members of the CJNG, the extremely violent drug cartel led by Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera. The packages they delivered to residents bore the cartel’s initials and other identifying images.
“What’s up, our people? We’re here handing out food and supplies to those in need in [the community of] Tapeixtle, in Manzanillo, Colima, on behalf of El Mencho,” says one masked man in a video posted to social media. The speaker and other masked men can be seen driving in a pickup truck holding firearms and holding packages of supplies on their laps.
In another video a man wearing a face mask hands over one of the packages emblazoned with the cartel’s logos, as well as El Mencho’s other nickname, El señor de los gallos (lord of the cocks).
He states that the food and supplies are “from El señor de los gallos, from Guadalajara, who helps his community due to the crisis they are experiencing, so you all know that we’re supporting the people.”
Calling the cartel “the four-letter company,” the masked man assured needy citizens that the drug kingpin is “with them.”
Upon receiving the products, one woman reportedly said the government had forgotten about them.
There have been stories recently of armed men believed to belong to various criminal gangs delivering food and supplies to those in need in states like Morelos, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Tamaulipas and Veracruz.
Despite the reports, federal Interior Minister Olga Sánchez Cordero claimed that the cartel charity in Colima was an isolated incident.