Category Archives: Mexico

Left to right: Faustina Poot Cruz Xhazil community representative, María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, first indigenous woman attempting to be president of Mexico and councilwoman Lizbeth Morán Fabián.

Marichuy, Mexico’s indigenous candidate: My goal goes beyond being president

By Angélica Almazán

“We do not bring promises, we do not bring anything to give away, more than the heart, more than sweat, more than the effort of each day. It has been a difficult road because people no longer believe in anything and are tired of hearing promises. That is why we are not promising things. We are launching a call to the organization of society, to a union that goes beyond elections. This is the moment of youth, of childhood, of women. It is time for us to be aware that we can move forward together.”

As young councilor Yamili Chan Dzu gives her speech, Marichuy’s eyes roam the small crowd. There’s only a little over a hundred people there. Unlike the mass meetings of the political parties, where trucks arrive full of people from all the neighboring communities to listen to the candidate in turn, this event of the Indigenous Council of Government has not been able to gather more than a handful of artists, reporters and some other clueless souls who heard what was happening and approached, perhaps moved by curiosity to see the small white cloth at the entrance of the Chan Santa Cruz Cultural Center that read: “This event is totally peaceful, for the people and of the people, unrelated to any political party”.

Although Quintana Roo is home to one of the largest indigenous populations among all the states in Mexico, it is the first time that the Indigenous Government Council has held a public event to collect signatures in the state and the outlook is not encouraging. At the time of this event, there were not even two months left before the Feb 19 deadline — and they had barely managed to gather 10% of the 1 million signatures necessary for her placement on the national ballot. That day in Felipe Carrillo Puerto, a population of more than 25 thousand inhabitants, only about 60 people signed.

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Esperanza Project at a Crossroads

This year The Esperanza Project will celebrate nine years of life – nine years of bringing inspiration and hope to the work of environmental and indigenous rights journalism. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, and poised to take our work to the next level. Please read on to see our highlights, our exciting plans for 2018, and how you can help.

PLATANAR 13In 2017, we gave voice to so many sources of inspiration. To name just a few:
* After a wave of earthquakes left thousands homeless in Mexico, scores of natural builders, architects and visionaries stepped up to ‘bio-reconstruct” a new, resilient society from the rubble;
Roper-Current-1 (1000x750)* A Maryknoll sister who spoke out against Salvadoran death squads who assassinated her sisters in the civil wars of Central America in the 1980s, now speaking for the Web of Life;

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XV Vision Council “Call of the Water” harvests solutions for threatened Lagoon of Seven Colors in Bacalar

Above: Cayuco Maya, the venue for the XV Vision Council, “Call of the Water,” was held on the shores of Bacalar Lagoon. Foreground: The Rainbow Peace Caravan’s Circus Tent has been a trademark gathering space for two decades in Vision Councils from Peru to Mexico.

BACALAR, Quintana Roo, Mexico — The XV Vision Council – Guardians of the Earth gathering drew more than 600 participants from 27 countries and representatives of nearly a dozen indigenous nations to the shores of this pristine yet imminently threatened Caribbean lagoon. This time, the weeklong itinerant gathering chose the Yucatan Peninsula for its venue, and it was the “Call of the Water” that convoked activists, ecologists, healers, artists and indigenous and community leaders to generate proposals and solutions to environmental problems that endanger the lagoon as well as the Great Maya Aquifer, the second largest reserve of fresh water in the country.

The XV Vision Council, "Call of the Water," brought more than 600 participants from all over the world to the shores of the endangered Lagoon of Seven Colors in Bacalar for a multidisciplinary event seeking solutions for protection of the water. (Martín López photo)
The XV Vision Council, “Call of the Water,” brought more than 600 participants from all over the world to the shores of the endangered Lagoon of Seven Colors in Bacalar for a multidisciplinary event seeking solutions for protection of the water. (Martín López photo)

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Fighting ‘adobicide’ in post-earthquake Mexico

By Tracy L. Barnett

Editor’s note: After the earthquakes of Sept. 7 and Sept. 19 in southern and central Mexico, scores of architects, builders, engineers, designers and other experts stepped forward to help. A nascent natural building movement – known as “bioconstruction” or “bioarchitecture” here in the Spanish-speaking South – is pushing back against the dominant cement-and-steel model, seizing the opportunity to rebuild with an architecture that promotes longterm resilience and human, environmental and social wellbeing. The Esperanza Project took a trip to the earthquake zone to learn about a few of those initiatives.

Among the casualties of the September earthquakes in Mexico are thousands of antique adobe homes and the millennial architectural heritage they represent. A week after the quake, Architect Peter Van Lengen, the son of “Barefoot Architect” Johan Van Lengen, arrived in the town of Hueyápan, a Nahuatl-speaking town in the foothills of Volcano Popcatepetl, known for its rich arquitectural heritage of multi-story adobe buildings that date back more than a hundred years.

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Rebuilding Tradition in Hueyápan, Morelos

By Tracy L. Barnett

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series on bioconstruction, or natural building initiatives, in post-earthquake Mexico.

Visto from atrás, el Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán, campanario cuarteada y lo que queda de su cúpula. (Tracy L. Barnett)
Seen from behind, the Temple of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, with its bell tower cracked and what is left of the dome.  (Tracy L. Barnett)

When the earthquake struck the adobe-rich town of Hueyápan in the foothills of Volcano Popocatepetl, a circle of mourners surrounded their dearly departed in the colonial-era Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán. When the ground began to tremble beneath their feet, they made for the door – and just in time, as the nearly 500-year-old dome came crashing down around the dead man.

No one died in the earthquake here, the townspeople will tell you, but this moment will forever be seared into their memories. Never in half a millennia had the tremors that occasionally ripple through the region produced as much as a crack in the rock-solid Templo Santo Domingo. But this quake was different. More than 400 families in this little town alone were left homeless, and a millennial tradition of adobe homes was in danger of eradication.

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A House for Mari: Bioconstruction to the Rescue in Tetela del Volcán

Editor’s note: This photo story is part of a series about “bio-reconstruction” or natural building initiatives that are springing up in the wake of the earthquakes in Mexico. To follow some of these developments see the Facebook page for BioReconstruye México, a network of natural builders around the country who are sharing techniques and coordinating efforts to respond to the need for housing in ways that care for the environment.

By Tracy L. Barnett

Mari Neri Aguilar will never forget the terrible feeling of the ground heaving beneath her feet and the sounds of her home and those of the neighbors cracking and falling to the ground. She gives thanks that the quake happened in the daytime; otherwise, she says, “my children would no longer be with me, because their beds were filled with rubble.”

Mari and her four children lost their home in Tetela del Volcán, in the foothills of Volcano Popocatepetl in the Sept. 19 earthquake that hit Mexico City and the surrounding states.

Bioconstructor José Rosas of Valle del Bravo had done a project in the area and heard about Mari’s case. First he inquired through a friend whether she was up for it. When she agreed, he decided to organize a workshop to share some low-cost natural building techniques with the local residents – “to teach them to fish, instead of just giving them fish,” he explained.

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Bio-Reconstructing Mexico: Toward an Architecture for Life

By Tracy L. Barnett
For ArchDaily.com

Editor’s note: After the earthquakes of Sept. 7 and Sept. 19 in southern and central Mexico, a nascent natural building movement – known as “bioconstruction” or “bioarchitecture” here in the Spanish-speaking South – has stepped forward, seizing the opportunity to rebuild with an architecture that promotes long-term resilience and human, environmental and social wellbeing. This article is part of a series featuring a few of those initiatives.

In the days after the earthquake that brought reality crashing down for millions throughout central Mexico, Huerto Roma Verde, the community garden and green gathering space at the heart of one of the most stricken sectors of the city, was transformed into a major hub for emergency relief. With the help of more than 5,000 volunteers who arrived to lend a hand. Roma Verde became a civilian-organized shelter, community kitchen, aid distribution center and much more, offering a space for rescue workers, medics, attorneys, psychologists, chefs, bicycle and motorcycle brigades and professionals of all kinds to offer their services to a traumatized public.

In the ferment that arose in the round-the-clock disaster response, a vision evolved of a sustainable society arising from the rubble. By the third day, recalls Arnold Ricalde of Cuatro al Cubo, a network of environmental organizations connected with Roma Verde, immediate needs were being covered and it was time to look forward to a sustainable reconstruction.

Bio-Reconstruye Mexico,” they called it, a reconstruction initiative based on the Spanish word for natural building techniques – bioconstruction, an architecture of life. Continue reading