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Fires In Oaxaca Have Claimed 5 Farmers’ Lives and Are Still Burning. Here’s How To Help

"Where is the support for Oaxaca right now? Where are those ambassadors and celebrities doing fundraisers? Where are they?," ask two ambassadors of L.A.'s Oaxacan community to owners of major mezcal brands.

4:10 PM PST on March 4, 2024

    L.A.'s OaxaCalifornian restaurant community has been raising funds independently to help community efforts in Oaxaca after fires burned through more than 700 acres of Oaxaca's Tlacolula central valley in six days.

    "The Zapotec community is working with the bare minimum equipment," wrote Felipe and Ignacio Santiago of X'tiousu Kitchen in City Terrace. "There is very minimal help from the government. Unfortunately, several people have lost their lives in this fire. Volunteers from neighboring pueblos are bringing face masks, food, flashlights, and water to San Lucas at their center square and also now to Güilá's church."

    X'tiousu was one of the first L.A. restaurants to raise money since their rural community of San Pablo Güilá was affected and one of the ones that were at risk of being burned down by the fire.

    Just two days after the owners started posting, they raised enough funds via their own Venmo account while posting photos of their mother and sister jumping into action, and loading a truck with basic supplies like water and tlayudas.

    "What are you doing to help Oaxaca right now?" Ivan Vasquez of Madre Oaxacan restaurants asks on his Instagram account.

    The question was aimed towards mezcal afficionados and tourists who love Oaxacan food and culture. Last night, Vasquez auctioned off his most prized bottles from his personal mezcal collection, including an extremely rare mezcal made by Maestro Apolonia from a unique agave called "karwinskii cuarenteno," which only matures every 40 years.

    He sold that bottle for $1,720. In total, Vasquez raised more than $5,120 in a 40-minute auction.

    "I will personally be taking money to my paisanxs," he writes on one of his Instagram stories, which features a QR code.

    The four-strong Mateo's Ice Cream & Fruit Bars chain posted today that all proceeds from the sales of their Oaxacan chocolate ice cream will go towards raising funds for the victims of the fire.

    Odilia Romero, co-founder of the Indigenous human rights group MyCielo, is bringing a call to action to mezcal brands, some of them corporate owned, that have stayed silent throughout this fire.

    Along with Vasquez, both are calling out the multinational agave spirit brands:

    "Where is the support for Oaxaca right now? Where are those ambassadors and celebrities doing fundraisers? Where are they? They don't care. You don't feel Oaxaca's pain," the post read.

    Mexico Daily News reports that as of today, 95% of the fires have been contained, and 60% have been extinguished. L.A. TACO has confirmed this information with people on the ground in Oaxaca. The report also confirms the deaths of five farmers who died battling the fire. This last fire is only the latest in at least 37 forest fires around Oaxaca, primarily caused by an extreme drought that the state is experiencing.

    In Oaxaca, Comité Oaxacali has been covering the fires, as well as raising funds. You can donate directly here.

    They also organized a protest at L.A.'s Mexican Consulate this morning at 7 AM.

    Susan Metenosky, of the travel blog Brooklyn Tropicali, along with her husband and Oaxaca native, Arturo Canseco, have been covering the fires and have also taken the initiative to personally raise funds and deliver 100% of the proceeds to the victim's families. They are taking donations until midnight tonight.

    A tlayuda and mezcal event will be taking place this Sunday featuring Poncho's Tlayudas and Madre Oaxacan Restaurant & Mezcaleria to raise funds. It is cash only. Find the information below.

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