Fish and religion do not understand pandemics in Mexican Lent

Luis Martín quickly cuts and cleans fish in La Nueva Viga in Mexico City, the largest market in Latin America, while eagerly attracting the hundreds of customers who come during these Lenten days to shop, more aware of tradition than from the coronavirus pandemic.

The queue to access the La Nueva Viga car park is immense and at the entrance door you can see the "full space" sign. The image seems unreal, because half an hour from this market the center of the city is almost deserted before the recommendations and requests of the authorities to stay home.

Although the number of infections is growing relatively slowly in Mexico and stands at 3,181 and 174 deaths, this Wednesday the Ministry of Health said that there could be more than 26,000 cases of COVID-19, based on an estimation model developed by the World Health Organization (WHO).


Entering this giant place and reaching the front hall, the news of the increase in cases and the recommendations to avoid crowds are lost among the many people who, moved by the custom and tradition linked with the religion of not eating meat during Lent, they come to buy fish and seafood.

"People are not so concerned about the coronavirus issue. They do not forget tradition and come every year to buy seafood and fish because this is also the most delicious thing on the planet," Teresa told Efe this Thursday. the various workers at one of the stores that sells non-stop at noon, rush hour in Nueva Viga.

Elena, a young client, considered, for her part, that "food helps to coexist with the family" and, since many no longer work or attend classes due to the anti-coronavirus measures, they have time to go to this market that It also has very cheap prices.

The mojarra, the sierra, the dogfish, the red snapper, the shrimp and even the salmon are cheaper than ever, probably due to the fear of the fishermen that people do not buy and thus create a lot of surplus that is lost.

"I usually come because this is the perfect place to find seasonal things and more now (at Easter). (...) It is interesting that you find different prices, the price is very low, in other places almost double, it is also good rich and fresh, "added Elena.


Eugenia, another client who, dressed in a mask, left her parents waiting outside the market to avoid the risk of contagion while she bought what is necessary for these days.

Still, Eugenia said that there should be more control and somehow manage access so that there are not so many people shopping at the same time and that they can at least walk without sticking to each other.

For her, it is not enough that the authorities have sent a circular to vendors to strengthen hygiene measures.

"This is not like a recreational center for the whole family to come accompanied. I understand that they are products that are handled but should have been controlled more," he said.

Although masks are seen, not all buyers wear them and some of the sellers do not either - although most do - but despite the strong fishy smell you can distinguish the antibacterial gel, which appears on all the tables in the market, since there is constant contact with food and customers.

"We have face masks, gloves and gel for the safety of the people. They sent us a form that we have to use a mask and gloves to protect clients and we do so. We have to take care of each other because suddenly many of us get together here" , explained the saleswoman Teresa.

Despite the coronavirus crisis that threatens the economy worldwide, it seems that these fishmongers are managing to avoid it these days.

And although according to some the number of clients was higher last year, it is clear that the image of La Nueva Viga is very different from that of any other part of the city.

After Easter and after the health emergency is decreed, a tough time for sellers is likely to begin.

But with any luck, the fishmongers will be able to save these days and thus survive thanks to tradition, the strength of religion and the spirit of the Mexican, who faces difficulties in family and with delicacies.


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