A few months ago the first Guarijíos arrived to Ciudad Obregón to form part of the group of Campos Bórquez and Fundación Bórquez Schwarzbeck´s collaborators. Javier Ojeda, director of the Foundation, in support with the rest of the team, answered the following questions in order to get better understanding of the previous and current situation of the ethnic group.
What is the background of the Guarijía community in Mexico?
The reference to the existence of this indigenous group dates back to the 16th century, when a group of Jesuit evangelizers made their incursion into the northwestern region of Mexico.
The meaning of the word Gurijío means “people”. As an antecedent there are no outstanding cultural vestiges of the ethnic group, contrary to other indigenous groups in the region. In general it can be said that its history and reference as a group has been left in the shadow of other tribes such as the Tarahumara and at some point the Mayos, resulting in its dialect among other activities, where that influence is perceived.
Where did the ethnic group spread?
The Guarijíos are a small indigenous group that lives in the north of Mexico, they live inside Sierra Madre Occidental in an area that includes part of the southeast of Sonora (Álamos and El Quiriego), as well as a portion of the southwest of Chihuahua (upper part of the Sierra Tarahumara).
There is no information on their displacement, somehow they have manage to preserve their territory although they have been threatened a couple of times; an example is the construction of Los Pilares dam.
What are the main challenges and problems facing the community?
Historically, it is a town characterized by resistance and social struggles. Such is the degree of abandonment, that until the year of 1975 that the Mexican government recognized them as an ethnic group which meant the arrival of support, of course involved in populism and demagoguery. The situation in reality has not changed. They continue to suffer from neglect, marginalization and lack of opportunities. The abuse, discrimination and theft protected by the indolence of all. Communities that do not have basic services, which, combined with climate changes, has forced them to abandon crops such as corn and squash.
The situation has become alarming. The ghost of famine has caused malnutrition, which has become a chronic problem. Unfortunately there are records and testimonies that reflect that by the terrible combination of elements, a part of the population decides to take the sad determination of suicide as an outlet to their problems, others to move to the valleys in search of survival.
What is the relationship of Campos Bórquez and Fundación Bórquez Schwarzbeck with the Guarijíos?
In Campos Bórquez we cannot remain aloof from what happens in our environment. And we have undertaken a solidarity rescue program for the displaced Guarijía community. Providing not only the job opportunity but through its social extension, Fundación Bórquez Schwarzbeck, develops and executes a comprehensive action plan, which includes not only the employee but also his family.
What does the program developed by Fundación Bórquez Schwarzbeck include?
The program promotes the offer of work in conditions very superior to those that the law marks; grants worthy housing, medical and assistance service that promotes its integration to its new surroundings.
The most recent numbers in the census reflect that the Guarijía population has around two thousand people. One way to stay and survive as a group is to promote the continuity of the family nucleus. That is why the program developed by Fundación Bórquez Schwarzbeck includes:
• Formal schooling program for children, youth and adults
• Psychological Support
• Program of administration of the economic resource
• Promotion of the participation and elaboration of crafts for their commercialization
Campos Bórquez hand in hand with the Bórquez Schwarzbeck Foundation, face an important challenge with the Guarijía community, we need to provide them with integral stability, but above all, work in the preservation of their culture, they must always feel proud of their roots and be able to multiply their traditions.
That is the challenge and we are ready to move forward in it.
Team of Fundación Bórquez Schwarzbeck