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Social implications of Covid-19 on indigenous communities ...Mexico..

If you take a day to visit any local market while travelling in the many Mexican cities or towns, you will likely notice, among other things, that art and culture, in all its forms, play a crucial role throughout Mexican society. This love of culture and the arts, that has deep seeded roots within Mexican society, has traditionally impacted most Mexicans by creating a sense of pride and artistic expression that has for years drawn the attention of travellers from around the world who wish to explore the myriad of opportunities that this beautiful country has to offer.

As one would expect, this attention also brings with it financial opportunities, primarily for Mexico’s indigenous population who live largely hand to mouth and who rely heavily on the sales of the products that are locally created.

It can be overwhelming to walk through some of Mexico's larger market centres, such as in Mexico City, Oaxaca city, and San Cristobal de las casas. The sheer magnitude and variety of different decorative art and symbolic imagery, colourful and functional art work like parkas, ponchos, guitars, garden and kitchenware seems to never end, and that's just the start of what you will see in this seemingly magical and mystical country. There is no doubt that the arts play a vital and significant role in Mexican culture and tradition and as noted, their livelihoods are significantly impacted by their ability to market what has been locally created on a world-wide stage.

If you look into our own backyard, it is obvious that the Covid Pandemic has played havoc on the global economy in every area and aspect of our lives, leaving no stone un-turned. Many of us have had to gear down and live simpler lives, accepting a reduction in pay, or being laid off altogether and having to search for new employment opportunities.

Developed Countries:

In developed countries we have been presented with the opportunity to receive government subsistence as relief during this time of unprecedented need - if however, you take a day trip to local farmers markets, a park, or even visit a local beach destination, it seems like very little has changed, as people appear unaffected by the pandemic and are flocking to the beaches and parks and enjoying their time outdoors with family and friends. Vaccines are being rolled out at an alarming rate and vaccine passports are on the rise.

So far economies in higher developed countries seem to have cushioned the blow of the pandemic for now.


In Mexico it’s a very different reality - consider the simple lives of the native artisan, and folk-art producer. For as long as tourism has been a reality in this county, these artists have, in a major way, thrived on investments from foreign travellers. Travellers' investments in local arts have created a viable but modest living for these local native artisans, their families, and communities - far more than any domestic investment strategy has and will ever be able to accomplish.

“Mexico's economy, like the rest of the world, has been hit hard. As of March 2020, $1 U.S. was equal to 24 Mexican pesos, which is the highest it has been in years. Mexico's economy relies heavily on tourism, especially from the U.S, with tourism directly accounting for 8.5% of the GDP, 5.8% of full-time employment, and 77.2% of service exports, according to a 2017 report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.”-

Local native artists, who traditionally have been on the poorer side of Mexican society typically have larger families, do not receive any form of government subsistence, welfare, retirement funds or emergency savings. When the tourist sector crashed, their lives crashed along with it. The recent pandemic has had a massive impact on the tourism industry of Mexico - virtually bringing it to a halt. No longer are indigenous Mexicans able to sell their arts and culture to an international market that they have become accustomed to. Their lives, and those of their family and community are crumbling before their very eyes…no tourism in Mexico and access to the world-wide market place, means no prosperity for those most in need and a loss of hope for those who bring so much to their country and the world.

Of major concern is the extreme poverty that this population will be forced to endure. The pressures related to the pandemic, mixed with an extremely dangerous and ever increasing and present underground gang-based society will have a devastating and long-term impact on this very vulnerable population. Children of poor families will be and have been forced into gang involvement to support their families, and to just stay alive. Cartels, prostitution, thievery, gang warfare, drugs, imprisonment, severe poverty and potentially death are what awaits a population, who deserve a far better fate.

These are the poorest and most at risk of Mexican society. In the past they have been relatively happy and content within their cultural boundaries, believing in the precepts, ethics, morals, and traditions set down by their ancestors.

They are now at a crossroads with the pressure and consequences of the pandemic being far too much for any indigenous population to take on alone. Now a pressure being exerted from a changing world threatens the very foundation of a once ageless and precious cultural fabric woven on top of long-standing ancient traditions and stable footings. A disastrous consequence of the pandemic is children who are being forced into the dark underworld of gangs and cartels with the parents and grandparents having to endure this reality and accept it as the “NEW NORM”...for the sake of survival!

More than likely you have noticed some of this changing landscape in your own community. Contact less payments, curbside pickup, a huge spike in online ordering, vaccine passports...a virtual and divided society…as a prophetic voice of our time once sang, “for the times they are a changin”!

So, here we are, having figured out how to survive, somewhat unscathed within the context of a fearful, world-wide pandemic. The question yet to be answered – “what do the impoverished Mexican artisans and their families do in the aftermath of these unprecedented times”? Are they equipped to evolve into the new technological evolution of a digital vaccine approved society and its electronic, worldwide marketplace? Their cultures are as ancient as the ruined cities built by their ancestors, how will they know where to begin and to navigate and interface, within a technological environment that is quickly leaving them behind, and penniless?

Without outside help from those successfully “surfing this wake of change”, learning to adapt will pretty much be an extremely lengthy endeavour, fraught with numerous obstacles that will most likely be impossible to overcome…this is quickly becoming the “new norm” and one that will leave indigenous peoples from around the globe, desperately looking for answers.

The “driving force” behind G.A.I.A’s proposed program is to assist, initially, those people who we have introduced you to previously to the possibilities that are available to them and to help create strategies that will assist them in overcoming the numerous obstacles that they have been forced to confront.

So what if these artists could reach out to an international market without having to travel far and wide, which is in all likelihood impossible for them? Why not provide them with the same o

opportunities as us with our big box stores, restaurant chains, online businesses who have access to the internet, online ordering, curb-side pick-up, meals on wheels, etc.

The reality is, that they do have the same type of opportunities, and the potential to be able to support themselves and preserve their culture that will generate much needed revenue both today and well into the future.

Not only does this provide much needed and potential lifesaving revenues but the potential also exists to bring much needed attention and revenues to needy communities that have little to no water or facilities to educate the children who are the future of the these communities…this much needed development isn’t provided for by government or by any other local means, so they must therefore rely entirely upon their own devices to create the infrastructure that will assist them in moving forward successfully.

With online organisations like Amazon, E bay, Facebook, Instagram among others this type of opportunity is easy to attain, and projecting into the future has huge potential for otherwise devastated communities.

Imagine for a moment featured artists who could showcase their wares through an international, online platform and successfully receive what’s due for each finely crafted piece of art that will be carefully packaged and shipped to its new home along with a report of its maker, their family, origin and cultural history…they will also receive a breakdown of how the purchase price impacted the artist and how it’s building up people's lives, their towns, villages and helping to maintain the rich and vibrant culture that has been created.

Each purchaser will also have the opportunity of donating through our charity, in support of local community infrastructure and projects like, housing, fresh water, schools and roadways. These are all matters of extreme importance for most communities and villages and unfortunately out of reach for local indigenous people who are struggling just to survive.

Small business loans could be created in support of local Social Enterprises that have the potential to generate stable and sustainable revenues for families, while at the same time generating funds in support of necessary local projects and improvements…on top of this, when the world is safe again, Philanthropists from around the globe will have the opportunity to travel once again, potentially to those destinations where they assisted indigenous people to get back on their feet. This incredibly rewarding experience would be facilitated by personnel from our organisation who are operating in those communities who would welcome those who have demonstrated such generosity during these particularly challenging times.

The reality today is that people live virtually. Those who once loved to travel and shop in foreign markets would surely love to take advantage of being able to walk down the market street once again, however for the time being this can only be accomplished from the safety of their own computers. This is our reality today and the future of virtual tourism and philanthropy.

In time each buyer could even be involved in an interactive website in which one of the exciting aspects among others would be to have discussions with local residents about the areas of most concern and together to determine which projects would have the most meaning for donors, as well as having the greatest positive impact on the community.

Our website would present visually through video the communities priority concerns with the donor being able to discuss with indigenous leaders how the funds would be best utilized, to have the most impact. People like to have a say as to where their donations go and to see firsthand the impact their donations have had - donors would be kept up to date with how the families are doing through newsletters and personal emails/texts and as noted, in time, visits could be arranged.

The Future:

Stepping into the future we see a network of devoted indigenous leaders, local citizens, an army of volunteers, customers and philanthropists, all supporting a project that has worldwide application and has no end to possibilities or boundaries.

Mexico is not the only place affected by these challenging times in the ways described above. All of Latin America, Asia, Africa, and our own First Nations people will struggle to find ways to help themselves. The reality is this planet is still blanketed with a rich heritage of Indigenous culture which relies heavily on its arts and culture for its stability in many aspects - socially, mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally and as evidenced during these challenging times, economically.

This is an initiative with no boundaries and no ends, except only and subject to the boundaries of human compassion, care and devotion.

If you appreciate our vision please share this article and our page with your friends world wide.

Thank you!

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