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Members of the philharmonic band are short 10 wind instruments. Members of the philharmonic band are short 10 wind instruments.

Young musicians victims of musical instrument heist in Oaxaca

Ten wind instruments were stolen from a youth philharmonic band in the Sierra Mixe

Members of a youth philharmonic band in Oaxaca were deprived of 10 wind instruments when thieves ransacked a community center on June 29.

One clarinet, two saxophones, four trumpets and three trombones were stolen from the band in Santa Ana-Ne’äm, Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, 117 kilometers east of Oaxaca City in the Sierra Mixe, home to the indigenous Mixe people.

The case came to light when the band made a public denouncement, and simultaneously put out a plea for help. “We are kindly calling for the support of the whole population of Tlahuitoltepec … for assistance to recover the instruments of the young musicians,” it read.

The Culture Ministry condemned the theft and said the act could inhibit the children’s education. “We stand in solidarity with the girls, boys and young musicians … Acts like these threaten the comprehensive development of children and youth in Mexico,” it said in a statement.

This isn’t the first time a philharmonic in Oaxaca has been left without its instruments. In December 2019, the Philharmonic Band of San Pedro and San Pablo de Ayutla was robbed of 26 instruments. On that occasion, the instruments were replaced by donations organized on social media.

The Mixe people live in the eastern highlands of Oaxaca. They are considered to be culturally conservative, which has helped them preserve their language whose speakers number an estimated 90,000. The group call themselves ayuujkjä’äy meaning “people who speak the mountain language” rather than Mixe, which  is probably derived from the Náhuatl word for cloud: mīxtli.

With reports from El Universal Oaxaca and Animal Político

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