Mexico’s ‘Christmas Ornament Capital’ Struggles To Survive

By Rodrigo Cervantes
Published: Friday, December 21, 2018 - 9:00am
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Glass baubles are the signature Christmas ornaments produced in Tlalpujahua, Michoacán, in central Mexico.

MEXICO CITY — In Tlalpujahua, in the state of Michoacán, Christmas baubles are a tradition, a tourist magnet and a source of income. But as times change, the town’s industry currently struggles to keep the tradition alive.

In the early 1960s, a Mexican migrant returned to his hometown in central Mexico, where he began the production of glass Christmas tree ornaments. Others followed, and the town became one of the world’s largest suppliers of these decorations.

But local businesses have been impacted by a more competitive global market, as well as local insecurity.

“Crafts are not good for making money, and the government should provide subsidies and assessment,” said Gerardo Martínez, owner of an ornament factory in Tlalpujahua.

According to Martínez, his factory has 18 workers left from the 58 it had at its peak. And public safety is one of his main concerns.

“We could triple our sales if there were less risks for our trucks, our drivers or even to myself,” Martínez said.

And although production has decreased, Martínez said they sold 2 million ornaments this year, 500,000 of them in the U.S.

“Hope dies at the end,” Martínez said. And so will traditions.