at El Buen Amigo, 114 Elmwood Ave. Lots of people came to hear REPORTS FROM CHIAPAS
presented by Tom Potts and Bill Jungels, just returned from projects in Chiapas, Mexico.
Many brought food to share, and we had a celebration in the setting of the most beautiful store.
Santiago and Anne and Mike at the store graciously and enthusiastically made room for us all.
Tom Potts told us of his free dental project there, and how it runs; the cross-section of people he treats, the politics of the township, the work the committee there, the valuable assistance of a local translator from indigenous languages to spanish, the way the word gets out to the outlying communities, and the possibilities and problems of funding a scholarship for a local person to study to eventually carry-on the project year-round. Suggestions included a kickstart campaign or medical school in Cuba.
Tom also mentioned the huge privatization of the mexican energy enterprise, which involves constitutional changes and massive opportunities for corruption.
Bill Jungels told of terrible agricultural problems in the area this year: of falling revenue from coffee growing, and failed corn crops. He also told of the work of the weaving cooperatives and tensions in some nearby communities that reminded him of the paramilitary lead up to the Acteal massacres.
Questions were asked: protests planned for the 20 anniversary of NAFTA, celebrations of 20 years of autonomous Zapatista communities, differences between politics in Mexico and Colombia, versus other progressive politics in Latin America.
We hope to post some links here:
El Buen Amigo (the Good Friend) opened on Elmwood in 1989 as part of the Latin American Cultural Association, a non profit organization formed in 1977 to spread the culture of Latin America and raise awareness of present-day social and economic struggles of the region. The store deals directly with craftspeople, cooperatives and small family businesses, and returns profits to the artists and their communities. Everyone welcome to our party.