A citizens lineage

artist: Jaime Ruiz

Not long ago I remembered that I had, among my possessions, the genealogical tree of my grandfather’s first wife. His name was Don Carlos. His second and last wife, my grandmother Zolia, kept, for some strange reason, Carolina’s (the first wife) family tree in an old box. Also, there are at least fifty saved letters that Don Carlos sent to his first wife when he traveled. His prose was elegant, cordial and some sentences were imbued with great affection. Many letters were sent from Campeche, Merida, and Tabasco.

 

I have read them several times trying to put together a story that seems logical in my mind; I have tried to think what unconscious consequences these letters have had on my personal history. But there is another part of me that knows that Don Carlos and Carolina are not related by blood. At the age of eight, I learned that Don Carlos was not my “blood” grandfather and that my real grandfather had died in 1985.

Often writing about my family, my parents, my past, a greater interest in before-my-birth history arose; I think it is essential to rescue the generational future. I once heard in an Italian movie that roots were very important to people, but simultaneously, I think that remembering and talking about the past is usually a painful activity. 

 

There are certain people, organized groups, and government figures who would prefer to think that monuments, buildings, and statues should remain intact for the sake of historical memory, for the sake of the people. However, it angers me to observe that cities - large and small - are gradually becoming amusement parks made for tourists.

 

Despite the mysticism and beauty that surround Oaxaca, for example, it is increasingly common to realize that public spaces are becoming visual spectacles so popular with Gringos and Europeans.

 

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Large companies want to buy downtown buildings and nearby houses to transform them into boutique hotels or Airbnb’s. These types of interventions are attempting to cancel the history and context of architectural structures; even now the average passerby has no interest in knowing, deepening, or interacting with Oaxaca’s downtown, he is a conformist, incapable of using his senses as a guide and instead he takes an opportunity to capture the best picture that would get him a couple of likes online. 

Perhaps it is not entirely the responsibility of the spectator, but of the system that allows this type of tourism (the Magical Town are spaces that have also fallen into the temptation of absolutely pleasing local and foreign tourists).

 

In his work “devenir periurbano”, Jaime Ruiz shows the relationship between a cacique, a philanthropic businessman, and a hipster as a family tree.

 

Such connections perpetuate an unsightly city; a (de) subjectivation of buildings, streets, food, customs and, not to mention, indigenous communities that are seen by the hipster as an object of study of inequality in Mexico and, at the same time, as rejects and denigrates from a neoliberal discourse.

The philanthropic businessman, one who has foundations, associations to “eradicate poverty” or help people “raise awareness about autism”, and who also builds luxury lofts on the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende’s downtown, in an ecological reserve, or building a shopping center - for the benefit of all - devoid of architectural imagination.

 

To be honest, the average viewer prefers to get involved with visual architecture, which generates banal experiences, where their active participation is minimal; cities are in danger of becoming theme parks.

On the other hand, in tourist areas, who has more rights and freedoms in the paradisiacal state of Quintana Roo: a Salvadoran woman, the city-dweller who goes to the beach to be filled with positive vibes in the archeological zone of Tulum or the foreign tourist who buys cocaine from the local dealer on 5th avenue? With the recent murder of Victoria Salazar by the Tulum Police, in addition to highlighting the use of power and domination by the state and federal government, the parameter of the police to arrest a person is shown. 

A few years ago, some Australian friends and I went to Playa del Carmen to celebrate the new year, and we bought a couple of grams of cocaine from a dealer outside a club at dawn. One of them sniffed a line in the street, believing that no one would see him.

A police officer approached him and kindly told him that he could not ingest illegal substances on public roads, then he asked him to throw away that miraculous powder and he let him go. So I then asked my friend what were the requirements for obtaining Australian citizenship and how complicated it was. If he had stopped me, he would have put me in the back of his car. And, perhaps, for an indigenous and undocumented Central American, the outcome would have been fatal; with his genealogical tree, his roots, and his history, he has fewer chances of being human for the Other, for the Great Chief disguised as a philanthropist. 

Por: Gustavo Maldonado

Translated by: Sofía Figueras