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Asunto:PAN- Let us change for a Sustainable Livelihood
Fecha:Miercoles, 8 de Octubre, 2003  04:55:58 (-0500)
Autor:RedLUZ/LUXWeb <redluz>

Let us change for a Sustainable Livelihood

Vida Digna y Sostenible


4th Annual Fair of Producers and Consumers United for Fair Markets and Dignified and Sustainable Livelihoods, Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico, August 2-3, 2003, by Sheri Lapatin

More than 150 artisans and organizations from 16 Mexican states, Central America, Asia, and the United States, joined together on August 2nd and 3rd to participate in the 4th Annual Fair of Producers and Consumers United for Fair Markets and Dignified and Sustainable Livelihoods. The yearly event, convened in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico, is a display of the international commitment to an alternative economy, based in solidarity between producers and consumers and the belief that otro mundo es posible - another world is possible. It aims to rejuvenate trust in products and services, fair prices for small producers, and the use of traditional means of exchange such as trueque, the barter or trade of goods.

Ten organizations and networks* devoted to fair commerce participate in planning the event, although the most direct organizer is CEDESA, the Centro de Desarrollo Agropecuario. CEDESA is a women¹s cooperative based in Dolores Hidalgo, which has been working for 40 years to support sustainable, organic development in the region and an economy based in human values. CEDESA¹s headquarters include office and dormitory space for visiting delegations, as well as a 50 hectare ranch which displays environmentally-conscious practices, including organic crops and water-saving innovations such as a dry toilet. CEDESA is the site of hospitality for many of the visiting guests to the fair, who have come as far as China for the event.

Those arriving at CEDESA on Friday night, the day before the fair begins, have the pleasure of watching the natural tranquillity of the center transform into a lively space populated by visitors from around the region and the world. The guests greet each other warmly, some as newcomers and others as participants with 40 years of common history. The roughly 50 attendees share a vegetarian meal at a series of long tables, and join together after dinner to discuss plans for the weekend. One of the leaders of CEDESA welcomes the visitors to the event, noting with satisfaction the wide geographical diversity of the group and their common commitment to recapture the human dimension of economic relations. For many, this means acknowledging the dignity of working with the land, the value of local, small scale production and the importance of addressing the primary obstacle small producers face - the lack of markets for their goods.

The guests introduce each other one after another and share the experience of their work. This includes bold presentations by experienced activists, shyer expositions by indigenous women producers from Chiapas, the vision of alternative economists examining the potential for technology to support regional and international exchange, and the contribution of international visitors promoting similar activities in their home countries. One participant from El Salvador, who presents herself after many of the other guests, notes the benefit of the introductions themselves, which break through the isolation sometimes felt by organizations working day after day without interaction with other groups working towards a common goal. Before the session is complete, organizers note the unfortunate absence of friends from Peru and Colombia who were denied visas to attend the event, but whose mission and work proceeds in solidarity with the current participants.

The fair begins at 10 am on Saturday morning at La Morera park, where participants have spent the morning setting up their posts. The booths include a mix of food products such as the nopal cactus, honey, soy and amaranto; alternative health such as microdosis and massage, art products; and traditional clothing. Some booths display information about organizations working on issues such as environmentally-safe farming or alternative currency to facilitate the interchange of goods and services. In addition to the booths, the fair includes a number of workshops and panels open to the public on topics such as economic solidarity and alternative currency, country networks and training. On a central stage there are constant cultural presentations, including song and dance by local artists. An entertaining presence throughout the two days is the caricatured performance of a money-hungry banker, who circulates throughout the fair suggesting that he is not interested in social values, but will eagerly buy out the posts for a price.

Children play a central role throughout the fair, both assisting their parents and enjoying the natural surroundings at CEDESA and La Morera park. During the two days, there are four workshops designed specifically for children, who display a natural ability to understand the concepts of interchange and barter as well as sales themselves. While their parents participate in other events, a group of 3 children as young as 8 years old determine a fair price for the toys one¹s parents are selling, and the young buyer leaves pleased with his purchase.

While La Morera park is pleasant, its location away from the city center is a disappointment for some as compared to past years. The location means fewer people passing through from the street, and thus decreased sales for many participants, who rely on this income to at least cover the costs of transportation to the event. However, as at many events addressing alternative economy, the primary benefits of participation are not necessarily the sales but rather the conviviality between participants and the opportunity to exchange products among one other. One of the tables at the fair is a mesa de negocios, or business table where people share their offers and demands for goods, an activity organized by the Red Latinoamericana de Comercio Comunitario (Relaac). Participants are also committed to sharing their knowledge and experience with one another. On Sunday morning, one of the workshops is thus devoted to organizing training sessions between attendees that will take place after the fair itself is over.

In the final hours of the event, participants more eagerly engage in trades of their products, and exchange information so that they can be in contact after the fair is complete. In the last moments of the weekend, a storm sweeps through the park, requiring many to work together to protect their goods under cover as they prepare to close their stalls. This final challenge is yet another opportunity for cooperation for the hundreds of participants, many of whom are already discussing how to make next year¹s event an even bigger success.

*Red Mexicana de los Pobres con Dignidad A.C.,Tianguis Tlaloc en alianza con la Sociedad Internacional para el Desarrollo, Centro de Estudios Ecuménicos, Red Mexicano de Comercio Comunitario (REMECC A.C.), Secretaria de Desarrollo Social y Humano de Guanajuato., Codernorte, Centro de Desarrollo Humano de Guanajuato. A.C., REDIB, Red de Desarrollo Integral del Bajío, Coalición rural del norte del país (y las minorías de chicanos y otras nacionalidades radicadas en Estados Unidos), y Centro de Desarrollo Agropecuario (CEDESA).

Other international participants: · Red Latinoamericana de Comercio Comunitario (Relaac) with headquarters in Quito, Ecuador · Alianza por un Mundo Responsable y Solidario, with headquarters in Paris, offering training in fair trade · Arte Maya de Guatemala, members of the Tianguis Tlaloc · Researchers and sympathizers from Canada and the United States · Asia Regional Exchange for New Alternatives, ARENA (Hong Kong)

Other participating organizations: · Red Purépecha de Trueque · Fundación Ahora de Aguascalientes · Centro Nacional de Apoyo a las Misiones Indígenas (CENAMI) · Cooperativa CAMBIOS · Promoción del Desarrollo Popular (PDP)


Cambiemos a una Vida Digna y Sostenible.
Let us change for a Sustainable Livelihood.
Tláloc 40-3, 11370, México D.F.
Tels.: 5535-0325 y 5566-4265, Fax: 5592-1989