In Santa María la Ribera, a neighborhood in Mexico City suffering with skyrocketing housing prices and threats to demolish small businesses, a new saint, Santa Mari la Juaricua was created to protect the rights of the community.
Santa Mari la Juaricua is an anti-gentrification saint from Mexico City that protects small businesses and favors accessible housing. The holy figure first appeared in 2016 when artists Sandra Valenzuela and Jorge Baca noticed how gentrification was changing their neighborhoods—both physically and economically.
According to Aristegui Noticias, the saint brings neighborhoods like Santa María la Ribera and Jauréz together to overcome economic challenges since rents have increased drastically. In the past three years, the Mexico City neighborhoods La Condesa, La Roma and Colonia Centro have increased, respectively, by 30, 40 and 140 percent.
Baca tells Aristegui Noticias, Santa Mari la Juaricua is not against progress. “On the contrary, Santa Mari la Juaricua wants empathy, wants a community, wants old and new neighborhoods to be conscious about their environment.”
Baca’s family has been in Santa María la Ribera for four generations and his property tax has increased from $19 a year to $111 every two months. Along with him, Valenzuela also claims, that in a neighborhood closeby, her monthly rents have increased drastically.
But in the midst of struggle, the saint loving comforts the community with her presence. The holy figure has a prayer that protects against corruption and arrogance that reads, “Free me from the vendors whom are politicians, businessmen or neighborhoods. Don’t let them enjoy.”
The people from the uniting neighborhoods around Mexico City organize processions against the “whitening’ of “hip” neighborhoods in the city, worship and pray to her that their homes and small businesses won’t be displaced.
The saint’s followers and devotees have grown over the past months. They have created social media pages for the saint, carry her around the neighborhood taking photos and even created rap song about her.