The difficult fight against the coronavirus of indigenous Mexicans

In the bowels of the mountains of the Mexican state of Chiapas, indigenous people take the necessary measures to prevent the coronavirus pandemic from hitting the impoverished region with force.

While the pandemic is still rampant throughout the world, leaving thousands of deaths in its wake, indigenous Mexican peoples seek to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their territories, and put into practice their own strategies and ancestral knowledge to deal with the coronavirus.

In the municipalities of Chilon and Sitalá, which are governed by a system of their own uses and customs, there are still isolated places and communities that have minimal health services.

These municipalities, inhabited mostly by Ch’ol-Tzeltal indigenous people, have few clinics and only attend to basic ailments.

And for this reason, an outbreak of COVID-19 could be fatal, Sebastián Hurtado Núñez, a member of the community government of Sitalá, one of the poorest municipalities in Mexico, told Efe this Sunday.

“We are respecting government instructions because if that disease hits us, we will completely die. Because there are no medicines in hospitals, we have no doctors, there are no laboratories,” he said.

About 27% of the Chiapas population – about 1.14 million inhabitants – are indigenous, according to the 2010 Population and Housing Census.

According to the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval), 76.4% of the Chiapas population lives in poverty, and most of these are indigenous.


Given their fragile condition, indigenous communities have established a prevention strategy that includes not leaving their community and have blocked the roads, allowing only the entry of vehicles that transport food and basic necessities.

However, following all the recommendations to the letter becomes difficult due to the lack of water. According to Coneval, 57.5% of the indigenous language speakers nationwide lack drinking water in their home.

The economic resource is another of the factors that families must solve despite the pandemic, since most of them work seasonally on crops or with the sale of coffee.

You live daily, and this makes any extraordinary payment for illness difficult.

“Here in the community we only survive on food, which we sow. Because there is no money,” Rosalía Gutiérrez Monterrosa, a single mother and resident of the small town Juan Sabines, belonging to Chilón, told Efe.

With very few resources, these communities have managed to obtain some mouth masks and antibacterial gel.

“What we did was organize ourselves to the entire population, from young people, men and women, to older adults. And everything that is known or has been heard on radio or television we put to the people and please ask them to follow directions”, Gilberto Gutiérrez de Arar, member of the community government of Chilón and father of the family, explained to Efe.


Communication in community committees is constant, especially when local people return from other states with a high number of COVID-19 infections.

“There is no care here, the health caravans disappeared. There is no doctor in the hospital. A lot of family is returning from the north of the country and the Caribbean, and there is no medical evaluation to see what condition they are in,” said Gutiérrez de Arar. .

That is why, according to what he explained, those who arrive from other places are asked to “stay in their homes” for several days while being watched by the relatives themselves.

And in the case of presenting any ailment, it is usual to make use of natural remedies. “If they get sick, then we give them medicinal herbs,” he concluded.

Mexico currently adds 47,144 cases and 5,045 deaths due to coronavirus

While in Chiapas, the number of infected is 610 and the number of deaths is 48.

The authorities hope that as of June 1, it will begin to restore economic and social normality in the country through a recovery plan by regions and phases.


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