MEXICO CITY.- The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) is pleased by the nomination to receive the Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities 2010, as the Jury of the Award in Oviedo, Spain announced. Alfonso de Maria y Campos, general director of the Institute, declared that the fact of had been mentioned among finalists to be awarded with this important prize is “an acknowledgement to the scientific and academic labor of the specialists of INAH that work in the areas of archaeology, anthropology, history, linguistics, ethnology, museology, paleontology, conservation, restoration, publishing, journalism and communication”. De Maria y Campos thanked in the name of INAH academic community the mention and expressed it is an honor to share it with institutions and personages that have contributed so much to the communication and culture world, such as The New York Times; journalists Tom Wolfe and Bob Woodward; physician and philosopher Diego Gracia, designer Shigeru Miyamoto, sociologists Alain Touraine and Zygmunt Bauman, the radio from Canary Islands Ecca and the filmmaker Claude Lanzmann. According to European media, the members of the jury said it was a difficult choice to make “due to the concurrency of candidatures of high level and power. De Maria expressed that “this stimulates INAH to keep working on research, conservation and divulgation of the Mexicans’ cultural heritage”. INAH, created in 1939, is the Mexican State organism in charge of guarding more than 10,000 archaeological sites, 176 of them open to public, 116 museums and 2 tertiary education schools; it conducts archaeological research in hundreds of cenotes and shipwrecks, Indigenous communities, archaeological sites: INAH has presented 31 tangible and intangible cultural goods proposals to the UNESCO Heritage List that have been approved; it has elaborated a catalogue with 115,000 historical monuments, among other substantial work. To divulgate this vast heritage, INAH has developed a broad communication program that includes a vast catalogue of national and international exhibitions, as well as editorial, journalistic, radio and audiovisual production that have positioned the Institute in the cultural sphere worldwide.
It is now growing season across the Corn Belt of the United States. Seeds that have just been sown will, with the right mixture of sunshine and rain, be knee-high plants by the Fourth of July and tall stalks with ears ripe for picking by late August.
We have a friend here in Xico, a Mexican. I say Mexican for my USA readers who might not realize just how aware of environmental issues a lot of people here are. Anyway, he's a really smart guy who has worked in the area of tourism, natural resources and environmental stuff for a lot of years. His current gig is pushing solar ovens to lessen deforestation of our gorgeous, naturally tree-filled bosque de nieblas which suffers mightily from this.
But I have been thinking. Environmentalists, Mexican and USAers and others, tend to think maybe TOO naturally. And tend to want to have people who are less well-off go for more "natural" solutions than they might be interested in. I think some people (rich earth lovers, say) might use solar ovens, but I don't know why we should expect less well-off people to. Just makes life harder again. Solar ovens don't do what a modern stove does, or what a wood fire does. (I can hear our friend arguing with me.) They are limited by what they can cook, how they can cook it, and the weather. Especially here, the weather.
So I'm wondering. Why can't we, in the name of sustainable development, promote the use of GOOD,energy-efficient technology that also makes people's lives easier instead of harder? Many people in our area, including in our rural areas, have electricity. There are very energy efficient slow cookers and microwave ovens which do NOT need a stove top at all, and then, for those who have stove tops, there are pressure cookers. These all use less energy than a gas stove top which uses more than an electric one. As I understand it, wood costs about the same amount as gas for cooking. So any of these appliances I've mentioned would be useful in developing a sustainable economy and cutting back on deforestation.
If anyone knows of any organization that would be willing to fund the use of such cooking technology, please let me know!
In September of 1968, Union Oil Company of California, which later became Unocal and is now part of Chevron, erected a drilling platform off the coast near Santa Barbara. Over the next four months, four wells were constructed. Work on a fifth had begun and was proceeding uneventfully until, on January 28, 1969, the new well suffered a blowout. It took ten days’ effort before it was finally plugged, with cement slurry. By the time the flow had stopped completely, an estimated hundred thousand barrels of oil had poured into the Santa Barbara Channel. The slick it created covered eight hundred square miles. The area’s fishing industry was shut down, and pictures of blackened beaches filled the news.
Performance art, as currently practiced, emerged as an avant garde movement in the 1960s and ’70s, and some of its features made it difficult to visualize how it might make the transition from galleries and public spaces to the more institutional environment of the museum.
A coalition of community groups in Trenton is issuing photo identification cards to illegal immigrants. The cards are not government IDs, though they are accepted by many check-cashing companies, libraries, stores, and medical clinics, and at public parks and pools.
The powerful leaders who dominate our world can't possibly imagine the effects of what they do and say. They're just as limited as ordinary people in their capacity to imagine other people. So at some point, beyond their circle of associates and assorted other people close to them, they see everyone as part of an abstraction. This is the only excuse I can come up with for their actions and beliefs.
Although they are coming apart, the Washington Consensus and the notion of a supposedly market-based global economy still dominate an awful lot of thinking by the powerful and those who would be. This is true across the political spectrum. Many progressives still churn in these waters looking for how to rescue "developing countries." Their vision of well-being is a world full of worker-bees educated to do jobs which perpetuate the wealth of the owners in mindless if clean and safe work places that have little or no connection to family and social connectivity and the things that give meaning to life. This vision advocates health and safety for people I suspect to keep them well enough to function efficiently in their jobs. Education is for giving necessary work skills. I suspect leaders tell themselves that that what's good for them is good for their workers. Their world would be a world of freeways, box stores, faceless corporations, industrial agriculture in which animals are nothing more than product, crops nothing more than feed (not food) for the masses. Housing units -- not homes -- can march across barren landscapes, hundreds of them, squeezed together near where people work.
Mexico is caught in the crosshairs of this vision. It is still being urged and directed to develop according to the standards set by those who would perpetuate their own hold on the world, both within Mexico and outside it. I really think we have to stop being blinded by beliefs that this is somehow proven by science as the inevitable path of human development, with false or deceptive evidence used to support it.
The vision is shared across the spectrum of establishment economic leaders. Among assumptions underlying this vision:
1. That the world should be/can be conceived as one macroeconomic entity to which there are right ways and wrong ways to belong.
2. That the tools to "fix" what are called second and third tier countries are more or less the same and should be administered by people who are experts in this particular view of economics.
3. That competition drives the world economy and that all countries need to be competitive in more or less the same way. This vision ignores the fact that competition presumes winners and losers.
4. The necessity for there to be sustained (endless) economic growth to ensure the well being of "every Mexican in the long term."
5. That this system will benefit everyone....trickle down economics, anyone?
This has evolved into a religious ideology presented as if it were scientific truth. Like theologies and ideologies before, it has come to be used as a prop for the richest and those craving wealth and power to try to pull the wool over the eyes of the rest of us, and also themselves: self-deception and denial affect us all.**
The environmental disaster of the Gulf of Mexico is just the currently most obvious demonstration of the failure of global capitalism. Global warming is another manifestation, but in fact everywhere we look, we can see the problems, from poor people who are obese, trailing plastic wrappers down their streets, to the difficulty of finding potable water to the growing rootless crowds of unemployed and marginally employed urban and peri-urban dwellers.
Unfortunately, the Mexican government continues to measure its economic performance by this same model. It is still trying to obtain more and more foreign investment from faceless international (more US than anything else) companies, trying to build jobs in this business and manufacturing sector. Not investing nearly enough in alternatives which should involve efforts to help local people survive at a local level.
BUT there are signs of resistance. People are catching on. Ordinary people here in Mexico.
Below you see a demonstration in Jacolmulco, Veracruz, Mexico against the building of hydroelectric dams for the purpose of selling electricity to the industrial north of the country.
In the accompanying article in the Diario de Xalapa, Celia Gayosso reports that foreign businesses from Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Spain want to build 190 diversions of the Los Pescaudos-La Antigua river basin to create a hydroelectric dam. Apparently the only way to prevent this "ecocide" would be to have the upper part of the river a protected natural area.
The mayor of Jalcolmulco joined in the demonstration to defend the river on which 75% of the economic activity of the municipality depends. He pointed out that tourism, the most significant activity, is "an industry without smokestacks."
Jalcolmulco and its river basin make up one of several areas threatened by dams. A representative of the alliance of communities and users of the river Bobo-Nautla, Héctor Colio Gallindo, pointed out that these businesses are foreign businesses with Mexican names trying to use the water that belongs to Veracruzanos. These private businesses want to make electricity to sell to the north of the country [big industry in Monterrey] by deviating up to 90% of the flow of rivers in Chiapas, Oaxaca and Veracruz. The only benefit for the people whose rivers are thus diverted would be the rent which the CFE would pay for infrastructure which would not create more than three jobs. The rivers would be drained to such a low level that fish would not survive.
There was a demonstration in Zongolica also under threat of construction of a hydroelectric dam. It was pointed out that the rivers provide livelihood through fishing, agriculture, and tourism to 75% of the residents in a way that is not as destructive as hydroelectric dams and big industry.
The article mentions that the mayor of Jalcomulco, Gilberto Ruiz Chiviz pointed out that the community is taking up activities recommended in "Agenda 21", an international council under the UN which addressed sustainable development. He added that, thanks to the variety of people who live in and visit Jalcomulco, they have learned how to undertake their activities even though the national laws on the environment and tourism are obsolete.
He described how the civil organization has propelled the defense of the river, of water, and of economic and tourist activity. Campesinos have stopped felling trees in order to plant peanuts and maize and to dedicate themselves to forestation, because of which the tucans have returned, as have the white-tailed deer.
The community's activities continue in the struggle to develop and maintain a sustainable economy for the region.
**It is important to distinguish between knowledge of a scientific and technical sort and moral and ethical knowledge. Condemning global capitalism is not condemning scientific and technical (and artistic, historical or any other kind of knowledge). It is not urging people to return to some kind of non-existent idyllic past. It is saying that our ability to change our lives and our environment has far outpaced our ability to evaluate and channel those changes in an ethical fashion, to subject them in ways which would seek to minimize planetary damages, maximize well-being, to understand that nothing is without a downside and that the notion that progress within our western model will be continuous and inevitable is an illusion.
These are yucca flowers hanging on our gate. Guillermo cut them from one of the three spiky plants which you can see below.
Close-up of the flowers
Guillermo and Tere call them flores de palmo, but they are I'm pretty sure some kind of yucca. The flowers look like Adam's Needle yucca, but the plants themselves are quite tall, maybe ten feet or so.
Anyway, at times when they are in season, they are highly prized, made into a sauce that is served with chicken or eggs. I gave this bunch to Tere. We were going to split them with Guillermo, but they started to go bad in the heat and he wasn't there to take any. Tere made the sauce and brought us a container which we had over chicken and rice. It was a nice, mild white sauce with a hint of picante.
In the picture below, you see a young man in Coatepec who was carrying a bag protesting anti-immigration sentiment. He and his friends were speaking Spanish, but of course the message is for English speakers. The Missionaries of St. Charles Scalabrinians are religious who serve migrants all over the world. You can learn about them here.
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