The 119 pantheons of Mexico City will be closed tomorrow, November 1 and 2. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador decreed national mourning for 3 days, in honor of the thousands of deaths from covid-19, which begins today Saturday and until next Monday. The National Flag will be hoisted at half mast.
The relationship of the Mexicans with death is as old as the Teotihuacan people —which had its origin before the Christian era— and it was antecedent to the Aztecs, who saw in death a seed of life.
The arrival of the Spanish in the sixteenth century to the land that would become Mexico from 1821 forever tied the pre-Hispanic cult of death to the Catholic calendar and European customs: November 1, All Saints’ Day and next day, that of the Faithful Departed.
This is how the image of Mictecacihuatl, the lady of the dead, for the Aztecs, passing through Santa Muerte in the Colony, to the popular Catrina of José Guadalupe Posada, evolved into spectacular costumes and make-up of occasion.
After a century of this irreversible syncretism, the Day of the Dead, a festival sealed by the peculiar yellow of the marigolds and the papel picado; the offerings illuminated by the candle flame, full of stews, tortilla chips, sugar skulls, chocolate and amaranth; pan de muerto, coffee from a pot, a cigar, a pack of cigarettes and a little horse brimming with tequila or rum, in honor of those who are no longer there, it cannot be, as is regularly styled, a public display; they will remain in the private sphere.
Paradoxes of life: those thousands of deaths (91 thousand 289 people), the balance of covid-19 in the last eight months, prevents the annual honors of death from not being fulfilled as it should be. Don’t be the devil.
This momentary death of the Day of the Dead and what revolves around this pagan-religious-ancestral-contemporary celebration, has antecedents and explanation. It starts on March 23, 2020, the official day of the National Healthy Distance Day. The justification: that the cases of contagion do not stop. The average is 4,157 per day.
The confinement due to the covid-19 pandemic – decreed thus by the World Health Organization, since March 11 – did not exclude the dead.
The pantheons were closed. The customary Saturday or Sunday visits to the dead were canceled by the authorities – just as it happens for this November 1 and 2 -; the objective was to avoid the concentration of people in a reduced space. In that case, around the graves of loved ones, which Mexicans turn into a family gathering point, and not infrequently a real party scene.
Not only that, the burials of the dead – due to coronavirus, heart attack, cancer or any other misfortune – and their respective religious rites and tributes were forbidden. Only small committee funeral processions were allowed.
That taste for being close to the dead in the pantheons generates a chain of economy moving within them. These are informal workers, sellers of all kinds of sweets, fried foods, snacks and soft drinks who were left without jobs as soon as the measures for confinement were sharpened.
The coronavirus season also caused the pantheons to lose the joy of visiting and burying the dead. The musicians with their guitars, accordions, requintos, and their lavish voices that used to walk almost sneakily among the graves behind the dead to offer their relatives a song that the deceased would have liked, were exiled from the cemeteries. Those anonymous artists, those who lighten the grief of those who remain and lead to the hereafter with some chords to those who are no longer, also went to the ranks of unemployment for this November 1 and 2.
In this contradiction, where death annihilates death, there are not only pictures of a party of the dead canceled due to excess deaths. There is hard data.
32.77% OF THE PANTHEONS
The deaths officially reported by the Secretary of Health in Mexico due to covid-19 are so many that they fill the capacity of 40 of the 119 pantheons that exist in Mexico City.
The capital of the country is the one that accumulates the highest number of infections and deaths in this pandemic: 160 thousand 749 and 15 thousand 115, respectively.
The 91,289 deaths from the pandemic could fill the 6 pantheons of Coyoacán with a capacity for 7,690 deaths: Los Reyes, La Candelaria, San Pablo Tepetlapa, Santa Úrsula Coapa, San Francisco Culhuacán and Mausoleos del Ángel. Also the 5 of Cuajimalpa, with a capacity of 14,690: El Calvario, San Lorenzo Acopilco; San Pablo Chimalpa, San Mateo Tlaltenango and Jardines de Santa Elena.
Gustavo A. Madero’s 10, where 46 thousand 728 can fit: Tepeyac, Guadalupe e Hidalgo, Cuautepec, San Pedro Zacatenco, San Juan de Aragón, Ticomán, San Bartolo Atepehuacan, Atzacoalco Viejo, Santa Isabel.
Los 12 de Milpa Alta, with capacity for 14,638: Milpa Alta, San Salvador Cuauhtenco, San Pablo Oxtotepec Zebadatla, Cuilotepec, San Bartolomé Xicomulco, San Pedro Atocpan, San Lorenzo Tlacoyucan, San Antonio Tecomitl, San Francisco Tecoxpa, San Jerónimo Miacatlán , San Juan Tepenehuac and Santa Ana Tlacotenco.
The only one that operates in the Benito Juárez mayor’s office, that of Xoco, with a capacity of 5,000 graves. The one of San Fernando, in the mayor of Cuauhtémoc, with capacity for 600 dead. And three from Tlalpan, Magdalena Petlacalco, 460, San Miguel Xicalco, 540 and San Miguel Ajusco, for 690 deaths. The Santa Cruz Xochitepec, of Xochimilco, with a capacity for 357 dead. And the Ticomán de la Gustavo A. Madero, with capacity for 625 deceased.
The deaths in these eight months of pandemic here represent the total capacity of 33.61% of the cemeteries in the Mexican capital.
Of the 119 cemeteries that operate in the country’s capital and that will be closed this Sunday and Monday, 10 are general, 11 delegational, 14 concessionaires and the rest, 84 are neighborhood.
The 10 pantheons classified as general for the entire city are the ones with the greatest capacity. Among these, the Sanctorum, with 90 thousand and that of Dolores in the Miguel Hidalgo mayor’s office to the west of the city, with capacity for 600 thousand deaths and the San Nicolás Tolentino, with capacity for 201 thousand 452 deaths and the San Lorenzo Tezonco, for 55,168, both in Iztapalapa.
In this account made by Ethel Herrera Moreno, doctor in architecture from UNAM, with a postgraduate degree in restoration of Monuments from the ENCRYM of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), it is clear that, of the 16 mayors of Mexico City, that has the largest number of cemeteries is that of Xochimilco with 15; followed by Tlalpan with 12 and then Milpa Alta and Gustavo A. Madero with eleven.
Most of the pantheons are located in the south of the city.
And the mayoralties with the least number of cemeteries are in the central part of the country’s capital, due to the origin of what was Mexico City.
According to the architect Herrera Moreno, the municipalities with the highest number of cemeteries built in the last third of the 20th century are Milpa Alta and Tláhuac. The most modern cemeteries are: Nuevo Panteón Jardín (Álvaro Obregón), Mausoleos del Ángel (Coyoacán), Jardines de Santa Elena (Cuajimalpa), Militar (Tlalpan) and El Cedral (Xochimilco), all of these concessions.
IMAGES OF DEATH
In this health situation, the matter with the dead does not stop the cancellation of the party or the statistics of deaths. There are the images of recent events, which squeeze.
People who arrive at hospitals practically in agony. That, if they manage to enter, many times it is to go straight to the crematorium. 88.98 percent of the people who have died, lost their lives in hospitals; the rest, 11.02 percent, at their homes.
Like the case published on June 9 on the front page of Excelsior. An elderly woman was taken by her grandson to the General Hospital of Mexico City and died in the parking lot.
The drama of the moment was photographed by Moisés Pablo from the Cuartoscuro Agency: the woman’s grandson, crying with impotence, giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to try to revive his grandmother, who was admitted to the hospital dead, only to become a number more, in a statistic.
Relatives of patients in intensive care, intubated and breathing through a mechanical ventilator, asking to know how his wife, his father, his brother are doing. Just begging to be a moment with that loved one who stopped seeing for days.
One of these scenes occurred on July 28.
On Twitter, the user Dr. Ilse @ilseirene, posted that her colleague, the doctor Néstor Caudillo Mora. “I was unable to intubate him, my heart could not so much. I told him a lot, keeping all the urge to cry. It is difficult to be a doctor and know that you should be intubated and what awaits you ”, the doctor posted. “When I told the doctor and colleague that I had to intubate him, he saw his gases, he saw me and said ‘bring me my wife to say goodbye to her’. She managed to see them ”.
The thousands of people who have died in these 221 days of health crisis in hospitals due to covid-19, did so isolated from their affections, in absolute solitude. They could no longer say “I love you”, looking that person in the eye; Neither do you “make him want”, that cuddly one; nor to be able to put in order the staggering of papers always postponed: will, deeds, bank accounts, birth certificates. If anything, before the final phase, some were lucky enough to have a video call marred by tears from one side and the other, before the scythe of death from coronavirus seized their lives …
CAPACITY IN PANTHES
In these eight months of pandemic due to the coronavirus in Mexico City, the dead represent the total capacity of 33.61 percent of the cemeteries in the Mexican capital.
Of the 119 cemeteries that operate in the capital of the country and that will be closed this Sunday and Monday, 10 are general, 11 delegational, 14 concessions and 84 are neighborhood.
90 thousand spaces for the burial of corpses is the capacity of the Sanctorum pantheon in Mexico City.
Until October 30, the death toll in Mexico was 91,289, a figure equivalent to the capacity of 40 pantheons in Mexico City, over an area of 480,915 square meters, equivalent to 67 and a half soccer fields like that of the Azteca Stadium.
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