Vssions Council

Adolfo Dunayevich ((no email))
Sat, 14 Nov 1992 15:55:38 -0800 (PST)


by Alberto Ruz Buenfil
Huehuecoyotl, Mxico
November, 1992.

Mazunte, a very small port in the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca,
Mxico, became in 1990 the symbol for one of the most
important victories for the mexican ecologist movement.

The coasts of the Pacific, and specially those of Oaxaca have
been for ages the main sites for marine turtles'egg laying,
and the humidities of those wetlands, the required niche for
turtle nesting, reproduction and conservation.

Mazunte was formed as a town in the late 1960's, around a
slaughterhouse for sea turtles, with nearly one hundred fifty
families depending on this "industry". For three decades, the
village and a couple more neighboring towns lived exclusively
from the capture, killing and canning of turtle meat, at such
a rate that by l980, several species of turtles were
considered in serious danger of world extintion.

First the national and then the international ecologist
groups began in the early eighties a campaign to declare
Oaxaca a natural reserve for turtles, and to try to ban both
the fishing and the egg pouching of all the marine species.

In 1990, the combined efforts of the above movement ended up
with a federal prohibition of turtle exploitation in Mexico,
a victory for the green movement, but a complete economical
disaster for the indigenous people in the coast of Oaxaca. In
a few days, the fishertowns, and specially Mazunte, became
economically paralized communities, where even the mention of
the word "ecologist" would bring blood to the eyes of the
mazateco, zapoteco and guave indigenous inmigrants which now
became unemployed workers,living on the verge of starvation.

"If we cannot kill turtles, we will kill those damned
ecologists", was a common commentary among the Mazuntecos
only a couple of years ago.

Members of ECOSOLAR, one of the leading groups on the defense
of the turtles campaign, decided that they had to do
something to change the situation they collaborated to
create. They began working with the community of Mazunte and
neighboring villages, introducing alternative technologies,
new construction methods and materials, nutrition, health and
solidary forms of community organization. Theur main goal,
to turn Mazunte into a pilot village for ecotourism or as
they prefer to call it "conscious tourism".

After one and a half year of work in the area, in january
1992, members of ECOSOLAR met with some of us, members from
the Keesful event that
took place in 1991 in Temoaya (see report in "Raise the
Stakes # 18/19, winter-spring 1991-92).

On the 1st may this year (1992) nearly one hundred fifty
people, coming from twenty different countries, and
representing thirty five mexican and international green,
rainbow and alternative organizations met in Mazunte. For the
coming week, this diverse group of Earth Keepers lived in the
palm huts (palapas) from the villagers, shared food,
traditional communal work (tequios) with them, created a
recycling center for wastes; painted houses and murals using
clay, dyes and cactus juice; made bread; built
"biodigestors", to process human waste to create fertilizers;
organized a permacultural design and a nursery for the
school, and a holistic health center wich gave services to
nearly one hundred fifty people from the area.

Workshops, meetings, artistic and cultural activities, visits
to the various ecosystems, ceremonies and plenaries and many
other activities held at the Bioregional gatherings in the
north, were traduced into this natural context, and turned
into a cooperative social service for the community of
Mazunte, therefore furthering the work initiated by ECOSOLAR
in 1990.
It was also an exceptional experience for all visitors, an
experience that Selene Coen from San Luis Obispo California,
shared in her article for Earth Journal in June 1992 with
this words : "The format of this conference provided a real
cultural sharing at a depth and meaning I've never
experienced before. Friendships were formed with the locals
and with people from all over the world. We were two streams
of humanity flowing together, equally beautiful in our good
intentions and open hearts.."

At the end of the gathering, an invasion of the community's
territories by investors and corrupted politiciens took
place, pushing the villagers to hold an emergency "town
meeting", in which one hundred twenty adults, or family
heads, women and men, decided by consensus to affirm their
right, constitutionally, to become "MAZUNTE, a FARMING
ECOLOGICAL RESERVE, and the first in Mexico to declare it in
those terms.

The Mazuntecos, inspired by the high quality of the
gathering, by the support shown by the Earth Keepers, decided
to join the environmental struggle, and to ask all national
and international organizations and movements to back their
All the representants at the Vision Council in may signed it,
and this same declaration was translated and taken a few
weeks later to the 5th continental Turtle Island Bioregional
Congress in Steward Camp,in County Hill Texas by the members
of the mexican Cuahunahuac delegation, Adolfo Dunayevich,
Patricia Hume, Georg Anne, Arturo Pozo and myself. Seventy
three representants of many different groups and
organizations from the north subscribed and supported in
Texas the Mazunte declaration, and those documents were taken
in July by a delegation of people from Mazunte to the new
elected secretary of SEDESO, the federal agency wich takes
care of the environment in mexico, Luis Donaldo Colosio, for
a resolution.

At the same event, paysans from another region of Oaxaca,
called los Chimalapas, the largest tropical rainforest
reserve in the country also came along with a similar
declaration signed by thousands of indigenous people from the
area,and by dozens of green organizations asking their land
to be recognized as a Farmers Ecological Reserve. This last
petition was finally approved, and the Mazunte's one is in
legal process and will probably also be approved in the near

At present time, ECOSOLAR and the villagers from Mazunte,
with the federal support of SEDOSO and the Secretar!a de
Pesca are constructing the first Museum of Marine Turtles in
Mexico, probably the first in Latinamerica, with the idea to
bring another source of income to the area, and to further
the process of environmental eucation to the tourists to

The Vision Council of Earth Keepers is preparing in the
meantime its coming gathering, in the spring of 1993, this
time at the Ecological Park of Nanciyaga, on the shores of
the lake Catemaco, in the state of Veracruz, an event to
which members from the Bioregional movement in the north of
Turtle Island are invited through this note.

For further information :

Caco Rodriguez Adolfo Dunayevich
Parque Ecologico de Nanciyaga Tel. (525) 5755395
Hidalgo s.n. Col. Lindavista Fax. (525) 5755335
Catemaco, Veracruz, Mexico. Mail. agduna@igc.apc.org
tel. (294) 3-01-99

or Alberto Ruz Buenfil
Huehuecoyotl A.C.
A.P.111, Tepoztl n, Morelos

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