Impact from Covid-19 on Artisans in Mexico
The current virus lock down has been hard for everyone, but particularly hard for Mexico’s artisans.
The classic way to sell handcrafts is through street and market vending. While there have been efforts by government and private organizations to take this to the next level, success has been sporadic at best.
Today, artisans face an unprecedented situation, perhaps even catastrophe. “Non-essential businesses” are shut, tourism is dead and street traffic is nil, eliminating venues that artisans rely on. Many rural communities where artisans live have shut down entirely, allowing no one in or out.
Noted handcraft researcher Marta Turok of the Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico City states, “It’s horrible. All who depend on direct sales are suffering beyond belief.”
Constantino Martínez Guzmán of the Movimiento Indígenas de Artesanos Originarios de México (indigenous artists movement) states bluntly that “sales have been reduced to zero.” He adds, “We are artisans and we live day-by-day. Our people will not die of the virus, they will die of hunger.”
Even well-placed businesses are teetering on the edge. Mundo Huichol is a boutique store in Playa del Carmen. Closed for two months, owner Carlos Alejandro Cruz does not know if he can hold out. Rent is in dollars, and they just paid for their 20,000-peso business license and invested in their inventory for the year. If they cannot reopen by the end of May, they will have to close permanently.