In Mexico, Shuttered Cemeteries Mean Financial Ruin For Thousands of Flower Farmers

About two hours outside Mexico City, in Tenancingo, 67-year-old Lucio Alva Pastrana shows off his small parcel of marigolds, or cempasúchil as they’re called in Mexico. The bright orange buds peek out from the tangled green foliage.  

 “All this,” he says as he gestures to the plot of flowers, “it’s worthless.”   

Pastrana is one of the thousands of flower farmers in Mexico who have seen their market contract — or vanish entirely — due to the pandemic. Typically, Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, which is celebrated over the first two days of November, is one of the most profitable times of the year. Many families buy dozens of flowers — marigolds in particular — to build altars at the graves of their deceased loved ones.

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