The ‘commune’ of Lugo that turns its back on vaccines

“They throw the virus out, it’s all a lie”, María shoots without blushing when sitting down to talk after offering water and melon to her guests. He says it with pause, from conviction. It is not his real name, but it is the condition that he sets to sit down with a journalist. Their neighbors do not want to know anything about the media, because they consider that their postulates are misunderstood. Maria breaks that law of silence. It is part of one of the ‘alternative communities’ of the Lugo city council of Negueira de Muñiz, although the neighbors are more direct and refer to them as communes. It is the least populated in Galicia and also the one with the least vaccination against Covid, under the

60%, in a community that is close to 90% of its total population with a complete guideline -more than 94% in those over 12 years of age-.

Negueira is a rural municipality of Los Ancares, so far to the east of Galicia that practically its entire border adjoins Asturias. The only thing close to him is the mountain. It is an hour and a half by car from Lugo and two and a half from Oviedo. Although there are 225 registered people, only a hundred reside all year round. The town hall is divided in two by the Navia River, the natural boundary between the town of Negueira and the villages where the community resides. More or less the same number of people live in them as in the town. Ernes is the nerve center of this group of about fifty people whose alternative way of life descends from a commune (this one) established in the 1980s. Although they assure that they do not feel identified with the term and do not refer to themselves as such, their system of life and subsistence bears parallels with the communes . They are mainly dedicated to agriculture, market their products through the Ribeiregas cooperative and form a community based on self-management and exchange. The village of Ernes is separated from the town of Negueira by winding roads that border the river and stretch for almost 30 kilometers, about forty minutes by car. It is made up of twenty houses inhabited by people seeking an alternative lifestyle, coming from various parts of Spain and also from other countries.

In this community resides the part of the population of Negueira de Muñiz that is not vaccinated against Covid. «The virus is thrown out, and after this one another will come. It’s all a lie, a business for pharmaceutical companies, a sweep because there are many in the world, “says María. This sixty-year-old woman from León moved to the place forty years ago and has been living for twenty at the end of the Ernes road, a little away from the rest of the community. He lives with three dogs in a huge renovated house that he uses as rural tourism accommodation. Get electricity thanks to its solar panels, and running water with a motor. Away but not isolated, María regularly receives visits and spends a lot of time with her teenage friend, Beatriz. The house is part of an abandoned village. Rehabilitated little by little and decorated in a rustic, handmade style, the house shares its personality with its owner, who welcomes visitors in a room with a traditional iron stove fueled with firewood supplied from neighboring villages.

Children who have never been vaccinated

María explains that people in the community do not get vaccinated because they do not trust the injection. He claims to be “more afraid of what they are going to put into me than of what I don’t have. There are many children here who have never had a vaccine, and 30-somethings who don’t have any either. What they do is put the virus in you so that you become immunized, but if I don’t have it, why are they going to put it in me? And it is that the Covid is not, by far, one of the concerns of the community. María assures that they hardly talk about it, and that if someone has had it, it would be “a couple of days that they felt bad, they have it like the flu and they don’t even want to go see if they have caught the bug.” For her, the importance given to the coronavirus does not correspond to its real threat. He acknowledges that many people have died from this cause, but adds that “People also died before the flu and that is why those who wanted to get vaccinated did so without obligation”. Faced with the word “deniers”, pejorative in his opinion, he considers that it is “an invented term”, since “they have been deceiving us for a long time, first with bird flu and then with mad cow disease”. You don’t trust scientific evidence.

View of the village of Lugo
View of the village of Lugo – MUÑIZ

Mistrust in the injection grows the more doses the authorities recommend. For María it is “a beastly business for pharmaceutical companies”. «People are falling with the third vaccine, feeling very bad. The feeling of many people is that they were fine, they are forced to get vaccinated and then they are fatal. And it remains to be seen the side effects, which are not yet known because they have released the vaccine against the clock, ”she says worried. They reject the label of deniers, but not the argument. Although María is clear about her position and assures that she would not be vaccinated if she lived in a big city, she acknowledges that tried to get the injection to be able to travel or if your workplace required it, as is the case in some countries. He criticizes that the rules and restrictions “greatly coerce people to get vaccinated” and assures that if they did not exist there would be many more people without any dose. Faced with the problem of not being able to access some site, she ensures that she does not feel excluded, since the places she frequents do not ask for the Covid certificate at the entrance. And if they do, it goes away: “Don’t you have the vaccination certificate? You don’t eat here. Well, I don’t eat, I’m leaving. And when I have to lie, I lie». But things change when it comes to travel. Some friends of the resident of this small municipality of Lugo agreed to receive a single dose to be able to leave the country, but many others resorted to cheating. He assures that “there are always ways”. «I have many friends who went on trips to France and Switzerland with PCR and fake covid certificate, with someone else’s code. And no problem.”

María is not a single verse but the complete poem together with her neighbors from the community of Ernes. They do not have much contact with the other half of the population of Negueira de Muñiz, who lives in the main urban nucleus, but maintain a cordial relationship. The meeting point between the two parts is the school, through the children. The residents of Negueira say that the fact that the people of the community and their children are not vaccinated is not very important to them. Some parents’ only concern is “That when they go to class they do not always wear a mask, and there may be some contagion”, according to what they tell this newspaper. Nor does the mayor consider this matter of great relevance. The socialist José Manuel Braña, councilor of the city council since 2003, believes that “the people of the town do not care if they are vaccinated or not, in fact the neighbors around here do not wear a mask.”

The reality of the Galician rural escapes from the decrees of the Government. Even the councilor himself admits that he was somewhat suspicious of the injections at first, and although he received both doses, he confesses to having doubts about the third. Braña describes a Negueira de Muñiz that seems to be for Covid what the village of irreducible Gauls from Asterix was for the Romans. According to the mayor, before the arrival of the sixth wave, in the council they only registered one case in summer and another in autumn. He acknowledges that since the data is so small, there are no official records, which is why he considers that the pandemic is a minor problem in the area. “I think that here the issue of Covid, if we all put on masks, in 15 days it will be settled,” he ditches. Home science on the banks of the Navia.

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