“Knowledge emerges only through invention and reinvention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, and with each other.”
– Paolo Freire
This morning after breakfast, 14 people sat on the rooftop patio of a Oaxaca hostel to begin our exploration of economic and social realities facing this southern Mexican state, one third of whose residents are now living in the United States. We are a delegation organized by Witness for Peace, a US-based group whose roots are in nonviolent resistance to US aggression in Nicaragua in the 1980s. Now, WFP organizes study tours in Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Cuba, and conducts advocacy programs aimed at changing US policy in Latin America.
Our delegation is diverse in age, but with a common interest in enriching our activism with a deeper understanding of Mexico. Today the WFP Mexico staff, Nikki and Betty, gave excellent presentations on Mexican history, and on how the debt crisis of the 1980s drove Mexico into the clutches of neo-liberal economics. As they explained, neo-liberalism refers to a school of thought that favors unrestricted trade, privatized public services, weak protections for labor, low levels of social spending, and favorable climates for private investment, especially by large corporations that can operate across national borders (in other words the ideology that provokes the global economic crisis in we are still immersed). But as capital, goods, and services flow more freely across borders, walls and laws increasingly block the movement of people, who must migrate to find work.
The next week will be full of meetings with Mexican organizations working on issues such as migration, sustainable agriculture, water, and human rights. We’re going to learn a lot.