19-05-21 08:55:00, While indigenous communities in Mexico are rejecting the COVID-19 shot, the international effort to convince the public to take the jab is in full effect.
In early March, CNN reported that “Whole towns are refusing Covid-19 vaccines in Mexico”, profiling two of more than a dozen municipalities which have rejected COVID-19 shots for one reason or another. CNN reported on statements made by residents of Aldama and San Juan Cancuc, small indigenous towns located in the central highlands of the Mexican state of Chiapas.
“Why would I get vaccinated? I’m not sick. It wouldn’t be good if they tried to force us to get vaccinated. I don’t know,” María Magdalena López Santís, an Aldama resident, told CNN.
The indigenous communities of Mexico (and many Mexicans in general) have a history of mistrusting the federal government. After generations of being ignored or colonized, the communities are largely autonomous and operate under their own rule of law. It is this history which has caused several communities in Chiapas and other parts of Mexico to reject the COVID-19 shots altogether.
Of course, CNN reports that “a lack of information and conspiracy theories that have spread in the region like wildfire are to blame for vaccine hesitancy.” Aldama’s town secretary Tomás López Pérez told CNN that because his people “don’t really know what vaccines are made of, we believe that they contain the [Covid-19] virus and that’s the main reason why people don’t want to get vaccinated.”
On February 1st, José López López, mayor of San Juan Cancuc, released a letter to State health authorities detailing why his town would not accept the COVID shot. López López said the people of San Juan Cancuc will, in fact, reject all vaccines from the Mexican state.
The Chiapas State Health Department has stated that it will respect the autonomy of the indigenous populations.
I recently traveled to San Juan Cancuc to find out for myself why these indigenous communities are rejecting the shots. The indigenous of San Juan Cancuc speak a specific dialect of the indigenous Tseltal language known as San Juan Cancuc Tseltal. With the help of a local man interpreting from English to Spanish and Spanish to Tseltal I was able to communicate with members of the San Juan Cancuc council.