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Mexico’s anti-gentrification saint


September’s devastating earthquake has brought issues of inequality to the surface in Mexico City where two local artists have installed the capital’s first patron saint of gentrification: Santa Mari la Juaricua.

Nestled in an altar in one of the city’s ‘trendy’ districts, Santa Mari has a prayer that calls for residents to be ‘[saved] from eviction, from rising rents… from greedy landlords and corrupt developers’.

Buoyed by a housing bubble, many of the city’s damaged neighbourhoods have been transformed in recent years, with floods of money displacing low-income residents. Although Santa Mari was created before the earthquake, artists Sandra Valenzuela and Jorge Baca say she feels even more relevant now.

‘As earthquakes in Mexico City force people to move, they make the lack of regulation visible,’ Valenzuela explains. ‘The term gentrification isn’t used that often in Mexico – people confuse it with progress. Santa Mari is a tool to make us more aware of these complex issues.’

New Internationalist issue 508 magazine cover This article is from the December 2017 issue of New Internationalist.
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