The human element of Guadalajara

Photo by Rogelio Navarro.

On our last night in Guadalajara, one of the local journalists, Alejandra, asked me if I had liked the city.

I answered that I had. She seemed a little surprised, so I asked her why. For her the city was being stripped from its greenery, vegetation and trees.

This was a sentiment I heard often.

“The song goes ‘Guadalajara, hueles a pura tierra mojada,'” I remember someone telling me in one of my interviews, making a reference to the mariachi song “Guadalajara” written in honor of the city. The lyrics in English are, “Guadalajara, you smell of pure wet dirt.” But they are taking away our trees, I often heard, and they are replacing them with buildings.

So, I clarified. When I first arrived, I told Alejandra, I though Guadalajara looked like any other big city, especially because of the location of our hotel.

But it wasn’t until I started speaking to nonprofits, the neighbors of the Morelos park who were being affected by nearby development and to the factory workers of the city that I started to see more of the human element of Guadalajara.

I spoke to people who wanted to be heard and wanted to make a positive impact on their city that went beyond the construction of buildings. It was a commitment to their local community.

Alejandra went on to tell me that there were other places in Mexico, particularly the south, that had a culture of resistance.

I am very fortunate to have been able to work with Alejandra and the other local journalists that gave us -foreign journalists who don’t know much of the city- the context to understand the issues we are reporting on.

Because I was reporting on the tech sector, many of my interviews were inside buildings and mostly with men. But because the fixers told me about the community members that disagreed with the political narrative, I was able to expand my coverage and know the city beyond its physical structures.

I had the opportunity to interview women who were fighting for the preservation of their communities and for workers’ rights.

I was able to get the human element.

– Perla Arellano Fraire, Fall 2018 Adelante Reporting Fellow