The Slaughterhouse: Past, Present, and Potential
By Jesús Aguado
The first modern slaughterhouse, inaugurated by San Miguel de Allende in 1973, has finally closed. The closing at this location ushers in a new age that will bring prosperity and will offer an up-to-date facility in another part of San Miguel. The new slaughterhouse—aiming to obtain a Federal Inspection-type certificate—will open on the road to Dr. Mora, fostering growth for the western part of the city.
The building sheltering the current Biblioteca on Insurgentes 25 was once used as a slaughterhouse although the closing date is unknown. Don Luis Ferro de la Sota was San Miguel’s mayor twice. The first time was from 1970 to 1973. He told Atención the slaughterhouse was then situated on the corner of Calzada de la Presa and Calzada de la Luz. “At that time the rainfalls were very intense. Drainage from the slaughterhouse was connected directly to the public drainage. The problem was that when it rained, there was flooding in certain areas. Sometimes people used to see blood mixed with other animal parts in their sinks. Constructing a new place was very necessary,” he said. For that reason, Ferro´s administration made an exchange of land with the Álvarez family, and the local administration received a plot on the current Calzada de la Estación. This is the land that sheltered the rastro (slaughterhouse) for four decades and now will shelter building B of the Impulso Cuevitas Community Center.
“There we constructed the farmer’s house and the rastro that met regulations and had the best technology at that time, and there was also space for opening the first public nursery,” remarked Ferro. He believes there are no images from the opening in 1973 because “at that time the works were constructed because they were needed. They were not meant to be in a photo.”
An out-of-date rastro
On Tuesday, July 26, Atención visited the building that would be demolished. 19 people were working. Among them were Eduardo Villegas (with 16 years of experience as the administrator of the area) and Domingo Vaca (with 24 years working as a zoo technician). Talking with Atención, the workers commented that 10 years ago they detected up to 60 pigs with bladder worms and more than 40 cows with tuberculosis. Those figures have decreased in the last 10 years for several reasons. “People have changed the way of raising their pigs and also many of them are from farms,” commented Vaca. In the last 10 years, sick pigs have not been detected, but cows have, numbering 20 per year. When a cow was sick, the employees recounted, the animal was confiscated and taken from the old rastro to the sanitary landfill [and disposed of]. The owner could have just the skin.”
The corrals have been there for 43 years, one for cows and one for pigs. Daily between 3 and 5pm the animals started arriving because they needed to rest at least 12 hours before being slaughtered. In the past this place could produce 180 tons of meat from both pigs and cows, but currently just half that amount is produced because there was a drought years ago and the farmers decided to sell their animals or start a new business without them,” said the veterinarian. Another reason is that stores like La Comer, Aurrerá, and Soriana bring their meat from other states.
This old place can only be described as “obsolete.” It has mechanical technology from 43 years ago, and the sanitation, accepted by the current and former public servants, was not good.
However, when Atención visited the place, it was very clean. The conditions were not the way people had said. It didn’t seem like a place where workers had to trick animals to lead them to death, but it was easy to envision the employees pushing the 400-kilo pigs on rails back then. The workers said that they were happy and excited about the opening of the new rastro although their challenge would be to learn how to use the technology.
José Luis Chagoyán Cabrera was mayor in1973 and then assistant mayor from 2012 to 2015. During his last administration the slaughterhouse was about to be closed by CONDUSEF (National Commission for the Protection and Defense of Users of Financial Services), but after several agreements it remained opened. The current local administration was not that lucky because CONAGUA (National Commission of Water) conducted an investigation of the pollution that the sewage was generating, not just to Las Cachinches but also to the environment. For that reason, it was closed in May this year, and the administration had to pay a fine. Alfonso Sautto, director of Public Services responsible for the slaughterhouse, said that the place had been closed just one day because he visited CONAGUA. He explained to them that the administration was not interested in investing more money in a place that was not worth it. He made it clear to them that the administration would focus its efforts on opening the new location on the road to Dr. Mora. He got a temporary permit.
The new slaughterhouse was inaugurated on Friday, July 29, by Governor Miguel Márquez Márquez and Mayor Ricardo Villarreal. The construction has two sections, one for processing pigs and the other, for cows. The building and the personnel have the capacity to process up to 200 pigs and 200 cows daily. It is equipped with technology for slaughtering animals as well as for processing them, and the production line can process a pig or a cow in 10 seconds. Used water will be treated in a wastewater treatment plant and later will be used to irrigate the gardens of the space. The new rastro also has a kiln for burning confiscated animals. Employees benefit from showers and a cafeteria.
The new slaughterhouse has a space for vacuum-packing, which will allow the possibility of getting the Federal Inspection-type certificate. Director of the new slaughterhouse, Roberto Fernández, told Atención that he is currently working toward getting the certification and progress is at 95 percent. During the opening, Villarreal mentioned that in this state there are only five TIF (Federal Inspection Type establishment) slaughterhouses: one for chickens, two for pigs, one for cows, and another for rabbits. San Miguel could be the sixth.
SAGARPA (Secretariat of Agriculture and Livestock) states on its web page that a TIF slaughterhouse should have cooling facilities as well as processors of meat products and sub-products. The sanitation of those spaces is periodically inspected so they meet the federal regulations.
The TIF slaughterhouses have the purpose of offering meat of the highest quality. The reduction of disease in those products is high, and the risk to the human health is low. The meat can also be transported more easily in the country and can be exported.
The biggest community center in the state
In 2011, then mayor Luz María Núñez and then Secretary of Social Development of the State—now governor—Miguel Márquez Márquez signed an agreement for the construction of the Centro Comunitario Las Cuevitas. That space was to benefit more than 600 families from nearby neighborhoods, such as Las Cuevitas, La Estación, Olimpo, and Santa Julia. According to the former secretary of SEDESHU (Secretary of Human Growth and Development), Miguel Márquez, this would be a special project for a special city. He made it clear that the community center would be the pride of the country, totally open to the rich and the poor.
After signing the agreement, Márquez remarked that this would be a world class center, changing people’s idea of Las Cuevitas from that of a conflict zone to that of a peaceful area. Núñez stated that it was a dream that was becoming a reality. The investment for the first stage was eight millon pesos. It was announced that the construction would have multiple phases (four), and the building would shelter a two-story hall that would be used as a library. Adjacent to this would be classrooms for workshops. The building would also have its own administrative offices, as well as a central patio and an open auditorium. The handicapped would have full access to the complex through ramps.
At the end of Nuñez´s administration, the construction was handed over to the state government. There was a plan to close the slaughterhouse, located behind the proposed community center. However, that did not happen because the new one constructed on the road to Dr. Mora had not been opened. According to then Mayor Mauricio Trejo, there was an alleged embezzled of eighteen million pesos. He made it clear that he would not open the slaughterhouse nor would he invest one more peso in construction that had been corrupt since its start.
In the meantime, a study conducted by the Association of Barrio Las Cuevitas along with the Conservatory of Music and Arts found that the family income in Las Cuevitas was 1,480 pesos a month for families made up of more than five members. Las Cuevitas is an environment of conflict between the families and gang members. Drugs are a problem in the neighborhood as well, and it is very common to see young men inhaling drugs on the streets throughout the day. When the study was conducted, the neighborhood had 90 families, including 402 children. The associations also found that there are no educational centers in the area where the children can be enrolled. The nearest facilities are located as far as one and a half to five kilometers from the barrio.
Regardless of the social problems faced by the inhabitants of Las Cuevitas, the study remarks that, thanks to instilled family values, the residents hope to be integrated into society. They will not be defeated by the adversities that come from the differences of cultures, customs, and traditions or from the poverty that restricts their development initiatives.
After the closing of the building, Governor Márquez and Mayor Villarreal visited the Impulso Center Cuevitas. There governor Márquez announced that there will be more than 20 workshops as well as a virtual university. He also said that the state government will invest 18 million more pesos for the construction of building B, which will occupy the land from the demolished slaughterhouse. There will be more classrooms, as well as an amphitheater. It has a roof garden. To turn the Cachinches stream into a park from the Guanajuato bridge to the community center, there will be 10 more million pesos spent.
Building A may start operations in two months, said director of public works Felipe Tapia.