Sierra Norte says NO to the green traffic light in Oaxaca
Zoochila has stopped the Covid-19 pandemic by isolating itself from the rest of the world through a sanitary filter that has not been removed for a year and that the residents themselves control
inhabited by ocote and oak forests, to the north of the Oaxacan territory is Santiago Zoochila, a Zapotec municipality belonging to the Sierra Norte region that has stopped the Covid-19 pandemic by isolating itself from the rest of the world through a sanitary filter that has not been removed for a year and that the same resident’s control.
The filter, which functions as a checkpoint, is installed two kilometers from the town, right on the deviation of the San Pedro-Zoogocho federal highway.
Antonio R. remembers the date well. He says that it was 15 days before Easter 2020 when the community decided to isolate itself and cut off its contact with the outside world. He knows it because this young man is originally from Zoochila and chose to return to his land a little before the sanitary fence was installed.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, last year, shortly before Easter, they opted for a sanitary filter out of precaution and fear, because many people return to town on those dates. First, the municipal authority installed the checkpoint in 2020, and then, by assembly, it was decided that it would be permanent, ”he says in an interview.
Photos: Courtesy I love Santiago Zoochila
In Zoochila there are around 400 inhabitants who are governed by their own Internal Regulatory System (Uses and Customs), so in a community assembly they decided that all citizens over 18 years of age are obliged to take care of the filter, two people per day, from six in the morning and until six in the afternoon.
During that time, they are in charge of ensuring that no one outside the community enters, armed with a disinfecting kit provided by Salustia Hernández González, the Health Counselor, which consists of a fumigator, digital thermometer, radio, face mask, and antibacterial gel.
Antonio R., the young man who returned before the community closed, is convinced that it has been the sanitary filter that has helped prevent the virus from arriving and with it, the pandemic. “Totally, there is more control of the flow of people and products that come from the city. If it were not, anyone would enter, and not all of us take health precautions, “he says.
Is not wrong. Until now, the community remains without a single contagion of Covid-19, as confirmed by official data, thanks to the joint effort of authorities and inhabitants, since they all comply with the rules adopted in the community assembly.
These rules stipulate that the townspeople can safely go out to work their land. Even if your destination is a neighboring community in the Zoogocho sector. On the other hand, foreigners must observe a protocol that consists in that before arriving they must ask permission from the municipal authority to enter because in the filter they will be questioned where they come from and if they have the authorization, information that will be verified by radio.
If you already have authorization, you proceed to disinfect people, vehicles, and footwear. They are offered antibacterial gel and are reminded that the use of face masks is mandatory at all times. That is the protocol, but for the moment, any foreign person is denied access.
Photos: Courtesy I love Santiago Zoochila
In addition, only sellers of basic necessities are allowed to enter, while distributors from transnational companies such as Coca-Cola do not pass.
The owners of the stores must go down to collect their product until the diversion, in front of the checkpoint; Sabritas is restricted in the community.
Another measure implemented was to distribute tokens for the purchase of vegetables. While the use of the mask is mandatory at all times, from going to the mill until when you go to the doctor.
The Health Councilor points out that to stay without cases they require motor disinfectant equipment, since they only have atomizers, in addition to special suits for doctors and fans, since they are aware that contagion could be registered at any time.
And although they have a rural medical unit with personnel, medicines, oxygen, and even an ambulance, they know that the closest hospitals are two hours away, the one in Villa Alta, and three hours away from the one in Tlacolula.
“There is only a general practitioner and a nurse, but there are neighboring towns that have none of that and the nearest hospital is far away,” says Antonio, who says that here people, as happened with their grandparents, can die before be transferred and receive care.
“They were already building one (hospital) in Yaganiza but it was never finished, I think it was in the administration of (Felipe) Calderon, it was left in construction. Here in the community they also died from complications during childbirth ”, he recalls.
Other communities that also maintain a sanitary filter and thereby reject the arrival of the federal government’s green traffic light are San Andrés Solaga, the Cajonos towns, such as San Pedro, San Francisco, and San Mateo, and Yalalag, populations that remain isolated despite the fact that Oaxaca went green at the epidemiological risk traffic light of the federal government.
Other Zapotec communities in the region, such as Ixtlán de Juárez, also officially announced that they would not go green and would maintain their sanitary filters, according to a statement from the municipal authority.