Oaxaca: Honoring the dead with limited resources

The earthquake left many in Juchitán without a house or the resources to properly celebrate the Day of the Dead
Woman with flowers – Photo by: Mario Arturo Martínez/EL UNIVERSAL
23/10/2017
11:00
Juchitán, Oaxaca
Christian Jiménez
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The Day of the Dead used to be a festivity celebrated to the fullest by the families of Juchitán, Oaxaca but this year, the celebration will have to be modest, considering the economic crisis in the region, persisting since the September 7 earthquake.

The people don't even have houses to build their altars.

Alicia Castilla, a Juchitán inhabitant, recalls that in previous years all the people began planning the festivity since mid-October, cleaning up the cemetery, but this year it has remained as it was after the quake.

Juchitán natives used to go to the City Hall and build an altar, throw a big party in honor of the departed, and do the same at their houses, where the elders conducted a Prehispanic ceremony so families could get together and remember their loved ones.

Today, like in many other households, Rafael Cruz says his family and he won't celebrate because they have neither house nor money – they only have the possibility of attending a church service and, perhaps, bringing flowers to the cemetery.

Even right after the earthquake, the people had to bury their loved ones without flowers, without offerings or solemn ceremonies. However, Mr. Cruz remains optimistic: “People will find a way to honor their dead, even with limited resources, the people are loyal to their traditions.”

Gilberto López, a florist, confirms the panorama is uncertain. “We knew we wouldn't sell as much this year because they like to build big altars, but this year will be hard,” he says, explaining he usually orders flowers from Mexico City to cover all the orders he himself gets, but so close to the festivity no orders have been placed yet.

“Juchitán has always lived from commerce, we hope people will come because like Juchitán there isn't another.”

And he is right. Juchitán is the trading center of the 41 municipalities part of the Tehuantepec Isthmus, and depiste the lack of clients, Gilberto – who has been in the flower business for 53 years – continues offering his products.

Jocabed Toledo, a flower seller, says it's usually the low-income people who celebrate the fullest, but now that they are homeless, he hopes they're able to at least go to the cemetery to visit their relatives.

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