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The 'Yalistour," a 438-kilometer roadtrip from Mexico City to Tlaxiaco. The 'Yalistour," a 438-kilometer roadtrip from Mexico City to Tlaxiaco.

In Oaxaca, ‘Yalitza effect’ triggers move to revitalize Oaxacan culture

Indigenous art, culture and domestic workers' rights get new attention in the state

Oscar-nominated actress Yalitza Aparicio is an international agent of change, according to the governor of Oaxaca, where her fame is prompting authorities to act.

The success of the 25-year-old Mixtec star of Alfonso Cuarón’s film Roma has triggered a swift reaction from Oaxaca authorities, who have announced plans to revitalize the artistic and cultural life of the state’s indigenous communities and pledged to improve the labor rights of domestic workers.

Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat has also announced a new tourist route from Mexico City to Aparicio’s home town of Tlaxiaco.

The preschool teacher-turned-actress missed out on an individual Oscar at Sunday night’s Academy Awards but Murat still described Aparicio – who plays the role of a domestic worker in Roma – as a winner and a star who is capable of helping to change discriminatory attitudes towards indigenous people around the world.

The governor said that state authorities are looking at proposals to improve the labor rights and benefits of domestic workers, stating that the government will provide them with social security, a retirement pension and housing credits.

Murat added that his government will seek to create a culture in which people treat women working in their homes as another member of the family rather than just an employee.

The governor also said the people of Oaxaca are very proud of Aparicio, the success of Roma at the Oscars and the fact that Cuarón continues to help promote the state as he did in his 2001 film Y Tú Mamá También, which features the Oaxacan coastline.

Murat explained that there was a possibility that the state government would invite Cuarón, his production team and the cast of Roma to Oaxaca to work together on a new project.

“The important thing is to speak to them, with Yalitza . . . with Cuarón to see what they wish to do,” he said.

Murat said that he had already collaborated with Cuarón’s production team after it requested that Roma be screened in Tlaxiaco.

Oaxaca Culture Secretary Adriana Aguilar said that Tlaxiaco, located around 160 kilometers northwest of the state capital, has a lot of potential as a cultural destination because it is not only the birthplace of Aparicio but also singer Lila Downs.

Aparicio with her mother, Margarita Martínez, at the Oscars on Sunday.
Aparicio with her mother, Margarita Martínez, at the Oscars on Sunday.

She added that the city will be invited to participate in this year’s Guelaguetza, an annual festival that celebrates Oaxacan culture, with a specific focus on Tlaxiaco’s food and architecture.

Aguilar also said that state authorities will seek to reinvigorate the Mixtec artistic, cultural and music scene and, with the support of the National Autonomous University (UNAM), work to preserve the native languages spoken in Oaxaca.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Tlaxiaco has announced that the municipal government will bestow its highest honor on Aparicio in recognition of her status as a distinguished citizen.

The actress has also inspired at least two murals, one in the market of her hometown and another in the Mexico City borough of Iztapalapa while singer-songwriter Humberto Reyes has composed a ballad called El Corrido de Yalitza Aparicio.

Although Aparicio’s success has triggered a negative reaction from some, many people are celebrating the actresses’ emergence as a new –and different – role model and her representation of Mexico on the world stage.

Congratulating Cuarón for taking home three Oscars, federal Culture Secretary Alejandra Frausto wrote on Twitter: “Congratulations, you made the world see the diversity of the country we are.”

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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