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Chiapas: Indigenous Struggle & Popular Alternatives to Capitalism

A Conversation with Jorge Santiago

Thursday, April 2, 7:00 p.m. As the Wall Street financial crisis sparks urgent discussion of shortcomings in the US economy, the Mexico-US Solidarity Network invites you to join us in examining lessons from economic projects in the indigenous communities of southern Mexico . Jorge Santiago is the former Director of Desarrollo Económico y Social de los Mexicanos Indígenas (DESMI; Indigenous Mexican Social & Economic Development) where he has worked since the 1970s developing economic alternatives in over 200 indigenous communities in Chiapas , the southernmost state of Mexico.

Jorge's work suddenly gained a high profile after the 1994 Zapatista uprising, an indigenous movement supported by many of the communities where he worked. DESMI was founded by Father Samuel Ruiz, former Bishop of the Diocese of San Cristóbal, and was one of the first NGOs in the state. Jorge is co-author of Si Uno Come, Que Coman Todos: Economía Solidaria (If One Eats, May Everyone Eat: Solidarity Economy; published by DESMI), and has traveled extensively in Latin America and Europe discussing alternative indigenous development in Chiapas. He is one of the foremost experts on the struggles indigenous communities in Chiapas , and is a leader in the “solidarity economy” movement that advocates an alternative to the neoliberal model of economic development. He was born in San Cristobal and has lived in Chiapas most of his life. Jorge will be joined by a representative from the Mexico Solidarity Network and both will discuss:

* Alternative economic development initiatives in Chiapas indigenous communities, and

* The broad historical context of indigenous resistance in Southern Mexico.

Fifteen years after the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect, Jorge reflects on the alternative economic projects of indigenous communities that prioritize self-sufficiency, sustainability, community and human needs. Despite persistent human rights abuses against indigenous communities, and especially against the Zapatista sympathizers, these communities have not only sustained themselves but have become an inspiring example of resistance to the dominant neoliberal model of economic development and globalization.

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