Coping with COVID-19 in rural Mexico


Grasshoppers and roadblocks: tackling COVID-19 in rural Mexico

A Zapotec woman making tamales from locally grown corn. Credit: Jeffrey Cohen

On the outskirts of some small indigenous communities in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, a few volunteer guards keep watch along roads blocked by makeshift barricades of chains, stones and timber.

The invader they are trying to stop is COVID-19.

For many indigenous peoples of Mexico, poor and ignored by state and federal governments, the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is mostly on their own, said Jeffrey Cohen, anthropology professor at Ohio. State University.

This means that they have to take measures like limiting access to their villages.

“Most of these communities only have one road to go back and forth,” Cohen said. “So these guards, called topiles, are blocking that road so foreigners with the virus can’t get in – and locals won’t go to a nearby town and bring back the virus.

Cohen spent years in the central valleys of Oaxaca conducting anthropological research among the Zapotec people.

In the newspaper Global public health, Cohen recently co-wrote an article on how the indigenous peoples of Oaxaca are dealing with the pandemic. Its co-author is Nydia Delhi Mata-Sánchez, his former student and now rector of the Universidad Tecnológica de los Valles Centrales de Oaxaca.

Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, is one of the most ethnically diverse states in the country and is home to many indigenous minority groups, including the Zapotecs. It is also one of the poorest states in the country. The Mexican government estimates that nearly 70% of the country’s indigenous population live in poverty.

Most of Oaxacan’s indigenous communities are small and isolated, which has kept them comparatively less exposed to the coronavirus than the rest of Mexico.

About two-thirds of Oaxaca’s roughly 500 indigenous and rural communities had no cases of COVID-19 when Cohen and Mata-Sanchez researched for this article in the early months of the pandemic. Today, about a third still have no cases, Cohen said.

But as the virus has infiltrated their villages, the Zapotecs and other indigenous peoples are finding ways to cope with the pandemic. The first is to set territorial boundaries such as roadblocks.

In addition, village chiefs encourage social distancing and the use of masks. While these measures have become a political issue in many parts of Mexico, such as the United States, it is not a problem for most indigenous communities.

“One of the strengths of these local leaders is that they have a more traditional form of leadership that is not based on political affiliations,” Cohen said.

Grasshoppers and roadblocks: tackling COVID-19 in rural Mexico

Chapulines on a market. Credit: Jeffrey Cohen

“Village chiefs are generally respected by the population and they are listened to when they promote health measures such as wearing a mask and social distancing.”

In addition, villagers are rethinking their eating habits and turning to traditional food sources that had lost popularity in recent years as locals went to food markets in big cities for more modern dishes.

For example, the villagers collect wild honey, as they did more often in the past. And many have resumed eating “chapulines”, grasshoppers collected in the fields and quickly roasted over a fire.

“It’s a high protein alternative to expensive store-bought meats that are no longer available locally,” Cohen said.

“These are the types of foods that never completely went away, but were less popular, especially among young people who viewed these foods as foods their grandparents ate.

But what may be the most important key to how the Zapotecs cope with the pandemic is strengthening the tradition of reciprocity among their peoples.

“It’s a more formal arrangement than just helping the neighbors as we see in America. It’s so important that it has its own name – in the area I researched it’s called guelaguetza,” Cohen said.

When people have COVID or other illnesses, community members take care of their food crops and share their water and food. No one is left to their own devices, he said.

Although the Zapotecs and other indigenous peoples of Mexico are fighting the pandemic as best they can, they need more government support.

“There is still so little response to Indigenous concerns at the national and federal levels,” he said. Many of these needs predated COVID-19, but the pandemic has exacerbated the problems.

The most pressing concern for most communities is access to clean water, according to Cohen. Lack of clean water increases the risk of intestinal problems like cholera, among other health problems, which will intensify the effects of COVID-19.

In addition, many Indigenous people have to travel out of their villages to learn, work and care for themselves, which is difficult and dangerous during the pandemic.

“A lot of people were suffering before COVID-19 and the pandemic is only making things worse,” Cohen said. “The best bet of the Zapotecs, they know it, is always themselves.”

Indigenous Mexicans look inward to survive COVID-19, barricading villages and growing their own food

More information:
Jeffrey H. Cohen et al, Challenges, Inequalities and COVID-19: Examples of Indigenous People from Oaxaca, Mexico, Global public health (2021). DOI: 10.1080 / 17441692.2020.1868548

Provided by Ohio State University

Quote: Grasshoppers and roadblocks: Ging with COVID-19 in rural Mexico (2021, February 12) retrieved February 12, 2021 from

This document is subject to copyright. Other than fair use for private study or research purposes, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for information only.


About health

Check Also

10 Easy Ways to a Healthy Diet for children’s

Creating a nutritionally wholesome home is one of the maximum important steps you can take …


  1. Nicotine Salts Vs Freebase Nicotine Which Is Healthier

  2. how much cbd oil should i give my dog?

  3. I was wondering if anyone knows what happened to Dimepiece LA celebrity streetwear brand? I am unable to proceed to the checkout on Dimepiecela site. I have read in GQ that they were acquired by a UK-based hedge fund for $50m. I’ve just bought the Meditate Stainless Steel Water Bottle from Amazon and totally love it xox

  4. Has anybody ever shopped at Gr8 Vapes Vape Store located in 156 Commercial Way?

  5. Has anyone ever been to The Vape Shoppe Vape Store in 10800 Pines Blvd Suite 11?

  6. Does anybody know if I can buy Just Delta 8 Cartridges ( from DFW Vapor, 310 South Park Blvd, Grapevine, TX, 76051?

  7. Does anybody know if I am able to buy JUSTKRATOM Green Maeng DA Kratom Powder ( at LA Vape and Smoke, 926 S Los Angeles St Suite 8, Los Angeles, CA, 90015?

  8. Good Morning everyone ! can anyone advise where I can purchase KushyCBD CBD Tincture Broad Spectrum 1000mg?

  9. how long foes cbd gummies take to kick in?

  10. Good Afternoon everyone ! can anyone recommend where I can purchase Surface CBD Infused Spf50 Sunscreen By Dixie Botanicals?

  11. What Type Of Nicotine Salts Match 3mg Vape Juice

  12. Does anybody know whether I can purchase JUSTKRATOM Green Malay Kratom Powder ( from New Leaf Vapor, 4685 US Highway 17, Suite #3, Fleming Island, FL, 32003?

  13. are there any water vapes with just

  14. What Percent Of Naked 100 Salts Is Nicotine

  15. Does anyone know whether I am able to buy JUSTKRATOM Red Maeng DA Kratom Powder ( at Vixen Vapor, 204 12th St, Franklin, PA, 16323?

  16. Has anyone ever been to NeoVape Ecig Shop in 3434 Foothill Blvd #B?

  17. what is required by law on cbd product packaging

  18. Does anyone know what happened to Dimepiece LA celebrity streetwear brand? I seem to be unable to proceed to the checkout on Dimepiecela site. I’ve read in Vanity Fair that the brand was acquired by a UK hedge fund in excess of $50m. I’ve just bought the Cassette Playa Phone Cases from Amazon and absolutely love it xox

  19. Can anyone in a position to recommend cheap Rugby Clubs Scraping Services? Thank you 😀

  20. can you tell when on cbd

  21. Can someone recommend Large and X-Large? Thanks xxx

  22. Does anyone know Tobacco/Vapor Road store based in 2330 Preston Rd #550 sells vape juice made by Fortune eJuice? I have tried sending them an email at at

  23. Does anyone know what happened to Dimepiece LA celebrity streetwear brand? I am having trouble to proceed to the checkout on Dimepiecela site. I have read in Vogue that they were acquired by a UK hedge fund in excess of $50 m. I have just bought the Dimepiece Fire & Desire Case Mate Tough Phone Cases from Amazon and absolutely love it xox

  24. By way of introduction, I am Mark Schaefer, and I represent Nutritional Products International. We serve both international and domestic manufacturers who are seeking to gain more distribution within the United States. Your brand recently caught my attention, so I am contacting you today to discuss the possibility of expanding your national distribution reach.We provide expertise in all areas of distribution, and our offerings include the following: Turnkey/One-stop solution, Active accounts with major U.S. distributors and retailers, Our executive team held executive positions with Walmart and Amazon, Our proven sales force has public relations, branding, and marketing all under one roof, We focus on both new and existing product lines, Warehousing and logistics. Our company has a proven history of initiating accounts and placing orders with major distribution outlets. Our history allows us to have intimate and unique relationships with key buyers across the United States, thus giving your brand a fast track to market in a professional manner. Please contact me directly so that we can discuss your brand further. Kind Regards, Mark Schaefer,, VP of Business Development, Nutritional Products International, 101 Plaza Real S, Ste #224, Boca Raton, FL 33432, Office: 561-544-0719

  25. Can someone recommend Vibrators? Thanks xox

  26. Can someone recommend Round Butt Plugs? Thanks xxx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Open chat
Can we help you?