Solidarity and Humanity in Juchitan de Zaragoza

We arrived yesterday in the town of Juchitan de Zaragoza along the coast in Oaxaca where the Caravan was scheduled to arrive this morning. We had heard about Juchitan, known for its matriarchal social structure and large community of gay and transgender residents. Turns out there is plenty more here that makes this community special.

Mural in Juchitan: “The marvel of learning something is that no one can take it from you.”

Within hours of our arrival, our Airbnb hosts (who, in this remote community, collect fine art and pepper their conversations with references to people like Herodotus) connected us to people in the Zapotec community who had plans to help the people in the Caravan.

The front of “Radio,” the Zapotec community center in Juchitan

We met in the Zapotec community center called “Radio Totopo,” which is lovingly painted with mildly revolutionary murals.  Eva and Carlos created a shopping list for us and then drove us to the chicken man’s house to put in an order.

The Zapotec people from “Radio” had big plans for helping the Caravan walkers long before we arrived.

This morning, our Airbnb host, Vicente, took us to the public market and the “huevo bodega”, and then back to Radio, where we helped a dozen community members make sandwiches and arroz con pollo. Then we hauled fruit, sandwiches and hygiene products to the site where 5,000 Caravan “walkers” were resting after their 30 mile journey from Niltepec.

On the way to the mercado in the back of Vicente’s flat bed.

Even the kids were helping

Based on our experiences last week, we were not surprised to find that the people in the Caravan were, in spite of their exhaustion and hardships, caring, peaceful and social.  A group of young men playfully taunted me for 20 minutes because the apples and milk are “para los ninos!” Another group of young people approached me at the front of the food line to say they didn’t need to wait in line because they were special — “we are LGBT!”.  I gave them hugs and told them they were in the right town and one of them suggested that some of them may remain here

Even after a 30 mile walk, some of the group are ready to share music.

Two young men who remembered me from Tapachula made a point to come over and say hello.  One joined us on a second trip to the market to help haul crates of milk and produce in trade for a roasted chicken.

It is tragic that, except for the Red Cross, the world’s rich charities are still no where to be found –as far as I have been able to tell, the local Mexicans and the two of us are the only ones feeding these people who, as you can imagine, just cannot get enough calories.

The opposite of tragic is the generosity and kindness of the Mexican people. Those in Juchitan are still recovering from last year’s devastating earthquake and yet they treat these 5,000 strangers like the most important of guests. All of the food is made with love and paid for with money they don’t have to spare. Tonight at the encampment, our Zapotec friends Carlos and Coral got on a stage to encourage the members of the Caravan with messages of solidarity and calling their journey “historic.” And then they played “Coco” on a giant outdoor screen.

Our Mexican friends seem to view the whole world as part of their family. And they make me feel that too.

12 comments

  1. This article is so healing, Kim, after this terrible few days…. It is so hopeful… about kind and loving people. Thank you for being there. I’m glad they played Coco. I LOVE that movie. What did they think of it?

  2. Thank you for all you are doing, Kim. Your compassion and hard work mean a lot to everyone around you. And you are making it all very real to all of us who follow your blog.

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