Monday, February 26, 2007

Indigenous punks carve out space in Mexico City

[Source: Jeremy Schwartz] -- On Sunday afternoons, Mexico's version of Central Park hosts an army of punks, goths and roller skaters, a riot of lip rings, fishnet stockings, studded belts and red hair spiked at impossible angles. But there is more to this tableau of extreme urbanism than meets the eye. With punk and goth styles, indigenous teenage migrants 'are saying all they can't say with words: 'I'm urban and I'm a part of this city. This city is not going to crush me,' ' photojournalist Federico Gama says. Mexico City photojournalist Frederico Gama, who spent two years tracking counterculture trends among indigenous migrant teens such as this young man, says the current wave is characterized by its defiance.

Many of the teenagers in the Alameda, on the edge of Mexico City's historic district, are indigenous peoples, just weeks or months removed from rural pueblos. They are part of a massive movement of minority indigenous Mexicans from the countryside into Mexico City, an unspoken migration within the country's borders that is transforming centuries-old living patterns. For many of these youths from ethnic and Indian groups that predate the Spanish conquistadors, the adoption of hyper-urban styles of dress is a survival strategy. "They face so much discrimination when they come to the city; that's why they transform themselves," said Pedro Gonzalez, a 38-year-old university student and migrant advocate who left Oaxaca for Mexico City when he was 16. "They are looking for a type of identity, because they say, 'Just by myself, I'm going to die.' "

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo by Federico Gama.]