Writtten by: Miguel Sosme
Mexico is a diverse country, diverse in its culture, its languages, customs, traditions, landscapes, ecosystems and natural environments. It is the country of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, cradle of millenary civilizations with high cultural development such as the Mayans, Aztecs, Zapotecs, Mixtecs and Totonacs. The nation of the Day of the Dead, of the stone pyramids and palaces, of the jungles, the exotic beaches, the white sand and the turquoise water of Cancun. Mexico is a nation as complex as the Mexicans.
However, many times there is a diffuse vision among foreigners about the country and its people. To begin with, we must point out that Mexico is not South America, as Americans sometimes suppose, nor is it in this region, as some Europeans infer. On the contrary, Mexico is a country located in North America, south of the United States. It is the economy number 1 in Latin America, the third in America and the 13th in the world.
It is also the fifth country with the greatest biodiversity, the seventh with the most sites recognized as World Heritage Sites, number 7 in tourism and the birthplace of 3 of the most important filmmakers of the last decade: Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón.
It is a sovereign nation in which various ethnic groups coexist, among which 68 indigenous groups stand out with their own cultures, languages and ways of life. Indigenous people make up a significant “minority” of almost 15 million people (the same number as the combined populations of Norway and Switzerland).
In this country of 220 million inhabitants, the predominant population is of mestizo origin, the result of the racial and cultural mixture of indigenous people and Europeans throughout the colonization and migration processes that began in the 16th century. Currently, mestizos, but especially whites, exert a strong influence on the economic and socio-cultural life of the country.
In this sense, one of the crudest and most complex realities in Mexico is precisely the social inequality based on ethnicity and skin color, a structural and historical problem, a result of Spanish colonization and the exploitation of white elites over the Majority of the population. Indeed, Mexico achieved its political independence from Spain in 1821, however, colonial practices persist to this day and are expressed in the grabbing of wealth and power in the hands of a reduced elite, the exclusion and marginalization of indigenous peoples. , the denial of their presence, and the unequal distribution of state benefits.
Despite the historical denial of the native peoples, the country is experiencing a cultural flourishing that celebrates cultural richness and that strives for the revitalization of the traditions and artistic expressions of indigenous communities. The creators themselves have turned to their past to document, rescue and disseminate the cultural heritage of their ancestors, and numerous cultural and commercial projects have prospered with the slogan of feeding pride in what is handmade by indigenous artisans.
This “renaissance” can be explained to a large extent by the market and the appreciation of the authentic from tourism. Many foreigners visit Mexico attracted by its diversity, its color, gastronomy, festive atmosphere and exotic beaches. However, they are also attracted by its wide cultural offer in which creative productions with their own stamp abound.
In this sense, artisanal production has become one of the most prosperous industries of the creative economy in Mexico. An important aspect is that it maintains a clear indigenous influence that is manifested in its color, exuberance and technical complexity. This overflowing explosion of textures and color festivity tends to dazzle and disconcert travelers, but it is a clear expression of the relationships that creators establish with the environment. In other words, Mexican art is colorful because the natural environment of Mexico is.
Likewise, among indigenous creative production, it is worth mentioning textiles, a cultural and economic production in which authentic communication systems are noted, by which origin, gender, class, marital status and especially, are expressed. the worldview of native peoples. Indeed, textiles express stories associated with the creation of the universe, the territory, the crops, and life itself. Various garments such as rebozos, huipiles and overcoats or ponchos have been an important reference in the construction of Mexicanness, and are today a reason to claim a denied identity.
In this way, artisan production is a window to the “deep Mexico”, to the poorest and most excluded Mexico that today is reborn and flourishes thanks to the determination of indigenous groups and the power of their creativity.