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Violence cancels parties in Jerez, Zacatecas

Zacatecas.— The Quema de Judas and the Cabalgata Charra, which take place every Glory Saturday in the municipality of Jerez, events that have brought together more than 100,000 visitors and 4,000 horses, will be suspended this year due to insecurity in Zacatecas.

For decades, this celebration has ceased to have a religious context to become the meeting point for families from Zacatecas with those of migrants living in the United States.

This festivity, which dates back to 1824, is considered the oldest fair in Zacatecas and marks the end of Holy Week with the Burning of Judas, a day on which up to a hundred of those figures of Judas are hung in the main streets of the center of Jerez. cardboard and reeds stuffed with gunpowder, emulating politicians or famous people.

The party starts when one of the charros stands on the horse’s saddle to light the Judas fuse, while the others prepare their ropes, since the objective is to lasso the doll while it explodes and is dragged by the horses.

The cancellation

This is the first time that this celebration has been cancelled, due to the violence that has caused the forced displacement of families in more than 18 communities in this mountain area.

The announcement was made on March 14 by Mayor José Humberto Salazar, as part of the agreements of the State Peacebuilding Table (made up of state and federal security authorities) with the purpose of “prioritizing tranquility, protection and safety of the families of the communities of the sierra”.

Víctor de Santiago, president of the Jerez Fair Committee, indicated that the organization of the festival was already 80% complete and that even municipal authorities had traveled to the United States to invite the migrant communities, but it was in those meetings in which the countrymen indicated that they had displaced relatives, who had asked them for help to take refuge with them in that country.

Finally, municipal, state and federal authorities determined not to hold massive events that put residents or visitors at risk.

Migration researcher Miguel Moctezuma considers that this was the best decision: “It was very risky that they would have made migrants highly vulnerable, due to the way they behave in this scenario, where they use purebred horses, saddles and clothing. adorned with silver. If they had come, it would be walking in fear, hiding and putting their relatives in danger. They return to their villages to enjoy their traditions and the beauty of their villages”.

He points out that the interruption of this binational party is also a challenge for Governor David Monreal, who in the coming years must deliver results in that region. In addition, he suggests that “the governor must change his attitude and stop blaming the past, arguing that everything is a cursed inheritance.”

The expert warns that “Zacatecas and Jerez have entered a process of decoupling due to violence that requires reengineering that could be long-term.” In the case of Jerez, he proposes, “that sociocultural and binational bond” that these festivities provided should not be extinguished, which, he said, should be maintained “even if it is at a distance.”

“Dressed up and rowdy”

Félix Fernández, originally from the community of Santa Rita, is one of the migrants residing in the United States who had been encouraged to return, and even had his new charro suit made, but when he learned of the situation, he chose to cancel the trip.

“My mare, La Martina, and I were dressed and excited to participate in the parade. In my family, every year we prepare months in advance and have our clothes made, because we never repeat a suit. This year it was light brown. She also had the saddle with pita embroidery ready for La Martina to show off, because that day is to show off our best horses and our best clothes,” says Félix wistfully.

In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL he says: “40 years ago I left Zacatecas, but Zacatecas never left me. In the United States I am for convenience, because the value of the dollar against the peso is 20 to one, but when I step foot in Mexico, Zacatecas and my Jerez I even feel that my heart is jumping out”.

For him, participating in the cavalcade “is a unique emotion, it is preparing for a whole year to arrive and show off your best clothes, the best horse, the best mount, to the rhythm of the band. It is happiness to go live with our people and in our town”.

Félix acknowledges that he feels sadness for Zacatecas: “Our people from the countryside are good and hard-working. It makes me powerless, because if the government wanted it, it would have stopped the criminal groups long ago. The government has everything to confront them, if it doesn’t, it’s because of corruption and because they don’t give a damn about the people of the towns”, he assures.

For his part, Víctor de Santiago, president of the Jerez Fair Committee, who is also a migrant and rider, points out that this year there will be a “more local fair”, avoiding massive events.

He proudly narrates that the parades on Saturday of Glory “have come to gather as many horses as to once again take over Zacatecas. Up to 4 thousand horses have been counted.

“We do not want our fair to be deflated. We are making a great effort”, assures De Santiago.

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