Here traditions still exist. They transit in the streets, inhabit the houses, show off in the squares and materialize in the chinese prints. Here, people live off their past and feed on their lands. Today, however, the people of San Gregorio Atlapulco are facing one of their greatest crises, the scouring for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bad luck here is no stranger. In the first years of the history of San Gregorio Atlapulco as a people of New Spain, events of disastrous magnitudes took place. At the beginning of the seventeenth century heavy rains caused the overflow of the canals, which ruined the crops, and at about the same time, waves of epidemics broke out that ended the lives of thousands of peasants.
They have now been hit by two similar situations, one of them the sism of September 19, 2017. «Theism thing was terrible, we all cried,» Ms. Meche Dominguez shakes her head behind the bars of her «The Triumph» store, «everything was moving, everything was moving and the trancazos were no longer heard,» she says in a choppy voice.
His place, next to the center of San Gregorio, was one of the few that had no structural damage after the ism. This town was one of the most affected in Mexico City, three thousand 800 damaged properties, among which stands out the parish of San Gregorio Magno, the most important for the people and hundreds of victims.
Despite this, Mr. Cuauhtémoc, also known as Don Goero, says that the people soon got up: «Hartos men, fed up boys, fed up people who came to help remove the stones from where? Who knows, because I tell you that’s san Gregorio, they felt it was ugly and they were already peeking at the people and coming to help.»
However, Dona Meche again denies when asked about another event that has not abandoned the shicurotes: COVID-19. «From the tremor we got up because we had to get up, but from the pandemic we can’t be well yet, we’re wrong,» he reflects and keeps quiet under his floral water cover.
Because, despite the strong character of the chicuarotes, the pandemic has wiped out many. San Gregorio Atlapulco is one of the main red pockets of contagion in the mayoralty of Xochimilco, where the figure, in mid-December, is more than 16 thousand positive cases. In the village it has reached more than 100 people. This reality is reflected in the streets, where signs and graffiti warn the population about the risk, and only some passers-by use the water cover as established by health authorities.
Why are we like this?, the chicuarote artist and restaurateer Marín Serralde Galicia is questioned from his studio, to which he replies: «It is by nature itself, that is why people became very infected, the same need to take out because there is no other means (…) the one who works, eats and the one who doesn’t work simply doesn’t eat.»
The warriors of the Chinese
The little ones don’t give up here. At least not so easy. The cultural and social heritage that runs through their veins drives them to overcome adversity. Just as they till their fields and take care of their Chinese, they seek their younger generations and constantly seek to succeed.
Fernanda Negrete Emeterio is one of the generation of young people who have been able to study thanks to the achievements of their peasant ancestors. The 28-year-old has already received from the National Bar and, although he admits that San Gregorio has become an «ugly» people, he wishes to stay in the lands where he was born: «At the end of the day, the traditions we have, which is like what sets us apart from the city, make me say – No, yes, I’m going to keep staying here.»
And like her, there are many who are professionals and who managed to get ahead thanks to their relatives or even to the same precarious situation. Such is the case of the artist Martín Serralde, who has lived his 64 years in San Gregorio, but has traveled all over the world. He is also the son of a peasant, but was forced to work in the camp after the untimely death of his father.
«I don’t know how I got out, huh? I confess,» he laughs, recalling his youthful years, in which he didn’t have time to have fun, but he did appreciate the beauty of his people. For him, the only way to save Saint Gregory is by making his wonders known: «because it is an importance that we believe to have him, we believe him nothing else, but other people do not know him, nor do they care.»
The responsibility for getting ahead lies with the younger ones, who also have a cultural burden inherited by their uncles, parents and grandparents, many of whom actively participated in social movements in favor of the progress of San Gregorio. This is the case for Fernanda Negrete, whose grandfather was a fervent Chicuarote activist.
«With work, the peasants have the desire to overcome the ones, not only that generation, but ours and those who come, because it is a very hard-working people,» says Fernanda’s grandfather, the chronicler Raúl Emeterio, who still has his eyes lit up as he speaks of his people. Faced with this, his granddaughter only hopes that the little ones can unite to get San Gregorio forward.
Its inhabitants recognize that they have in front of them a challenge if they want to preserve their traditions and maintain the security and tranquility of the people: «I believe that if we go to a place we must see what is the best of that place, not the bad, because sometimes the bad ones are not the ones who are there, right?», concludes Martín Serralde.
What we do at Animal Politics requires professional journalists, teamwork, dialogue with readers and something very important: independence. You can help us keep going. Be part of the team.
Subscribe to Animal Politics, receive benefits and support free journalism.#YoSoyAnimal