A study by the Congress of Oaxaca indicates that although tourism boosts the economy, in neighborhoods of the capital it causes an increase in housing costs, food and more, in addition to degrading traditions.
The gentrified municipalities of Oaxaca have focused on attracting tourism for economic and market purposes, without considering its serious effects, placing economic interests above social values, according to an analysis by Arturo Méndez Quiroz and Mario Samuel Ceballos, of the Center for Social Studies and Public Opinion of the Congress of Oaxaca.
In the report, it is noted that the regulations of these neighborhoods are focused on encouraging tourism and land use change, without considering a new approach with respect to sustainable tourism.
To date, he points out, there is also no regulation on temporary accommodation through digital applications.
“This was largely due to the conditions of the tourist offer of the city, after being declared a Cultural Heritage of Humanity, an improvement in living conditions and general appearance was obtained, as well as an increase in costs.”
The study indicates that there is gentrification in the city of Oaxaca, particularly in the neighborhoods of Xochimilco and Jalatlaco, as well as in the Macedonio Alcalá tourist area.
These places have undergone enormous changes, both in the image of the buildings that were homes or workshops and today are restaurants, cafes, shops or accommodation services.
22,659 foreign immigrants reside in Oaxaca, which is equivalent to 0.55% of the state’s population. This is an increase of 403% compared to what was recorded in 2000.
The main countries of origin of migrants are the United States, Honduras, and Guatemala, according to the Statistical and Geographic Yearbook by federal entity 2020, of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography ( Inegi ).
To these data is added that the number of real estate and rental services in the state amounted to 1,630; hotel, motel or similar rooms to 572 thousand 811, hotels, motels and similar, thousand 490; temporary accommodation and food and beverage preparation services, 35,120 and 1,831 temporary accommodation establishments.
The researchers point out that the benefits and great attractiveness of these neighborhoods are often talked about, without taking into account the widespread problems caused by gentrification, such as the separation of the original inhabitants, the modification of spaces and the excessive increase in prices. .
“Sufficient measures have not been taken to reduce it or to prevent its spread to other areas of the city.”
For example, in the Barrio de Santo Tomás Xochimilco in the city of Oaxaca, they explain that new people became residents with investment intentions. This caused the opening of restaurants, boutique stores, cafes, and other regional and/or sustainable-oriented establishments.
Arturo Méndez and Samuel Ceballos point out that in this neighborhood the costs of housing have increased considerably, as well as of the items offered, in addition the typical traditions have been degrading, and those who continue to practice them have become part of the background. In addition, the old historical sites became part of transactions, they are modified and carry out different activities.
“In the same way, the facades have undergone severe changes; which can even be considered as transgressors of the original architecture, regardless of the improvement of the image of the urban landscape”, they mention.
Something similar happens in the Jalatlaco neighborhood, as real estate agents began to take over sites in it, finding a significant amount of uninhabited homes, which were renovated and put up for sale or for rent for a new type of residents.
Degradation of culture
“The tanneries of the past are now occupied by hotels, hostels, gourmet restaurants, boutique shops, and the houses have been transformed into numerous cafes. The streets and facades have been used for international promotions, such as in China, France, and Japan. It even realizes a nomination awarded by Time Out magazine in 2020, as one of the 50 coolest places in the world, through a survey of 27 thousand world tourists, “they explain.
According to the study, the oldest population in the Jalatlaco neighborhood is small and, in general terms, has a small number that does not exceed one thousand people. While the price of real estate and rents have increased considerably, and despite the beautification of the place, there is a degradation of the cultural and traditional aspects of the neighborhood.
“The case of the artist Demetrio Barrita, who in 2001 paid a thousand pesos for his shop, and saw how in fifteen years it grew to ten thousand, that led him to abandon it. The same place, by 2021 it was already rented for 20 thousand pesos, figures that can be considered very exorbitant”.
For the authors, speaking of gentrification as a social phenomenon makes it mandatory to look at its negative effects, such as pollution of the physical environment, noise, deterioration of the urban landscape, alteration of weather patterns, rising food and housing prices, job insecurity, insecurity, commercial displacement and symbolic dispossession.
The other side is that it encourages tourism and with it the growth of local businesses, revaluation of properties, revaluation of environments and traditions, generation of jobs, improvement, and cleaning of public spaces.
Even so, they warn that it is urgent to talk about national and state regulations that “guarantee the balance between urban development and the protection of natural, historical, social, architectural, cultural and artistic heritage, preventing segregation and territorial exclusion, and in turn prioritize the social production of the habitat to carry out the social functions of the city on good terms”.