Archive for August, 2010

oaxaca 2010 08 11 m alban triqui 037 

 Caravan to Mexico City Announced

OAXACA –Led by indigenous women from the Triqui ethnioaxaca 2010 08 11 m alban triqui 051c group, dozens of people marched through the rain June 11 to Oaxaca’s central plaza and began an encampment in support of San Juan Copala, a Triqui village that has been besieged for months by paramilitary forces and more recently by the Mexican army as well.

Speakingoaxaca 2010 08 11 m alban triqui 038 a press conference in Llano Park before the march, the women said their community has suffered more than 20  assassinations, which they blame on UBISORT, an armed group with ties to the political party of current governor Ulisses Ruiz Ortiz.  “If the government wants us to have negotiations they have to arrest the assassins of our comrades,” said Mariana Flores López.  She said the government knows who was responsible for the ambush of a human rights caravan in May, in which two human rights workers were killed.

A second caravan, in June, turned back before reaching the village due to the presence of armedoaxaca 2010 08 11 m alban triqui 047 cropped UBISORT forces. 

Yesterday’s march included Triqui street vendors who complained they have been treated unfairly by a corrupt city government.  The vendors are affiliated with the APPO, the assembly of organizations that emerged during Oaxaca’s 2006 uprising, which was violently suppressed by state and federal forces. APPO members continue to demand the release of political prisoners and for the governor to be held accountable for the murders, kidnappings, and assaults committed by his government.

Members of the Organización de Comerciantes Ambulantes en Resistencia 14 de Junio (June 14th Street Venders in Resistance) said they will keep the encampment going oaxaca 2010 08 11 m alban triqui 050until there is justice for the Triqui people. 

Also this week, women from San Juan Copala announced a 3rd caravan will take place at the end of August, from the Mixteca city of Huahuapan de Leon to Mexico City to demand federal government action to dismantle the paramilitary group which has besieged their community.

[Based in part on a report in the Aug. 12, 2010 issue of Noticias.]


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oaxaca 2010 08 05 ventanilla egrets

A promotional web-site describes the coast of Oaxaca as rich in ecological tourism, including enjoyment of beaches, snorkeling, bird-watching, rock-climbing, and kayaking. That is all true.  But “eco-tourism” should imply more than just an appreciation of nature; it also should involve benefit for local communities and respect for local culture.

According to the International Eco Tourism Society, true eco-tourism means "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." They have outlined 6 principles to unite conservation, communities, and sustainable travel:

  • Minimize impact.
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
  • Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people.
  • Raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climate.

Two excellent examples can be found in Mazunte, a small beach community near Puerto Angel.

Not so long ago Mazunte residents derived much of their livelihood from oaxaca 2010 08 04 fresh water turtle harvesting sea turtles which come ashore here every year. Since sea turtles are endangered, the local industry was not only ecologically destructive, it was also doomed. The federal government stepped in with a creative solution; on the site of a former turtle-processing plant now stands the Mexican Turtle Center, a museum dedicated to research and protection of sea turtles as well as their fresh water cousins. Numerous species of turtles are on display in indoor and outdoor tanks or pools. The center draws carloads and busloads of visitors each day who also stop by the shops and restaurants along Mazunte’s rutted main street.

A few kilometers down the road you can find the community of La Ventanilla, oaxaca 2010 08 05 ventanilla cocodrilo located on a beach where sea turtles land to lay their eggs. Thirteen years ago residents of a nearby village who had derived much of their diet from turtle eggs and iguanas started a project to protect these species, promote environmental awareness, and create local jobs. Visitors to La Ventanilla can take an hour-long guided tour of the local mangrove lagoon and view the egrets, iguanas, and crocodiles that live there. (Swimming in the lagoon is not recommended.) The tour guides are organized into cooperatives, which also operate several cabins where visitors coaxaca 2010 08 05 ventanilla iguana reversean stay. Local families operate gift shops and restaurants by the entrance.

Although it seemed busy to us, our tour guide said business is slow. He has two   sons in N. Carolina. Responsible tourism can help protect an ecologically sensitive area and help the local economy, but it can’t solve Oaxaca’s economic problems by itself. Until Oaxaca has more good jobs and a better economy for small farmers, communities will continue to export workers and depend on what migrants can end home.

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The United Nations General Assembly voted Wednesday, July 28 to declare that access to safe water and sanitation services is a human right.

122 member states voted for the resolution, which was introduced by Bolivia and backed by groups such as Food and Water Watch, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the Blue Planet Project.  No UN members voted against the resolution, but 41 – including the USA and Canada – abstained.

I read about it in a Reuters dispatch published in a Oaxaca newspaper.  If you didn’t find it in your local paper, you can read an article from the Inter Press Service.

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