COVID-19 cases are rising in Oaxaca and the villages. This week’s news reports closures at Abastos Market (Central de Abastos), the huge central food distribution center in Oaxaca city due to high rates of disease. People are testing positive in villages in the Tlacolula Valley. Concern is rising. Demand for face masks is stronger. We must continue to respond. Thousands are at risk. No time to sit back and take a break!
If you gave earlier, please consider making another gift. If you haven’t yet given, now is the time. The need is still with us.
New Oaxaca Partnerships
We have formed distribution partnerships with:
Food for All A Oaxaca-based collective of farmers, chefs, drivers and citizens in Oaxaca, Mexico, providing market boxes from farm to table, founded by Rachael Mamane, James Beard-nominated chef.
Puente Works with food producers and micro-enterprises in vulnerable Oaxaca communities to maintain production and economic solidarity
Cafebre A Oaxaca city coffee bar that roasts and distributes artisanal beans from independent growers in the highlands
Mama Pacha Chocolate A small Oaxaca workshop that makes rich and nutritious chocolate without agrochemicals, promoting a fair economy for cacao bean growers
Each of these organizations will take our masks and distribute them to those in need. The partnership allows us to go deeper and wider with more urgency!
Urgency: We are out of masks in Teotitlan del Valle. People are coming to Cristy’s house to ask for masks. Please help!
With help from Food for All‘s Rachael Mamane, our point person, we will be able to get more masks quickly into the hands of farmers, consumers, fruit and vegetable vendors, taxi fleets, and others.
You are key to this project’s continuing success. Right now, we have commitments to make 300 more masks this week and need to pay for them! We want to provide a steady source of face coverings for the near future.
Few have an income source in Oaxaca now and people cannot afford to buy masks. They can barely afford to buy food!
We also continue to work with Cristy Molina in Teotitlan del Valle, where she organizes seamstresses to make masks for us. These are the masks that we will give to Rachael for distribution. Cristy my essential partner who volunteers to protect her village and her neighbors.
Sewing Masks Provides Income
Our strategy has changed. We now want to focus on sending funds to Oaxaca seamstresses for mask-making. This provides an important source of income when all other work has evaporated. We are grateful for all the masks made by friends in the USA up to now. We found that the cost to ship to Oaxaca is better spent providing income to seamstresses there.
To keep up-to-date with Oaxaca Covid-19 statistics, please use the Municipio de Oaxaca Facebook page. I am told, however, that actual data is lagging and cases may be as much as 20% higher than what is reported. Hospital beds are filled to capacity. This is what it takes to get people’s attention, unfortunately.
Another key person whose help we value is Alvin Starkman, Mezcal Educational Tours, who says that masks are direly needed at Abastos — and he feels safe with his N95 and protective shield going there to distribute face coverings!
Yesterday, Oaxaca government announced that the use of face covers is mandatory throughout the city, that all public squares, where the greatest number of infections occur, will be sanitized, and that police will enforce social distancing to prevent concentrations of crowds. They continue to encourage isolation.
This is good news for Oaxaca.
More face masks are needed. I just ordered 100 masks to be made and mailed to Oaxaca. I am organizing a distribution task to give the masks away starting in the public markets and with street vendors and customers. We have created hang tags for each mask that will explain in Spanish why it is vital to use the mask to prevent the spread of infection and save lives. My goal is to enlist helpers to distribute the masks in Oaxaca and the villages. We will need hundreds of mask and funds to pay local people to hand them out.
Please help me support this effort and make a gift to my PayPal account, designating that it is for the Mask Fund: paypal.me/oaxacaculture or open PayPal, use Send Money to Friends and Family, for oaxacaculture.me
Last week, Erich Hansen (you met him at the chef’s party with Kalisa) and I spent about 2,000 pesos at Sam’s Club to buy rice, beans, and oil. We delivered it to Martha Canseco Bennetts – CEI Board Chair and owner of Becari Language School. She delivered it to CEI.
Families also need cash donations in order to afford transportation into Oaxaca. Some of the supported students live 2-4 hours away. Getting in to Oaxaca for donations is quite a journey.
Resources for Giving and A Cry for Help in Oaxaca
SiKanda.org Solidaridad Internacional Kanda (SiKanda) AC is a Oaxaca non-governmental, and non-profit organization. It was founded ten years ago with the mission of facilitating and leading participatory processes of harmonious and sustainable development to improve the quality of life of people in Oaxaca, Mexico. They are raising money to feed vulnerable families during the COVID-19 crisis. Donate via PayPal from their home page.
PuenteMexico.org works with 30 communities in the Oaxaca Central Valleys and Mixteca to grow and distribute healthy food, develop sustainable agriculture programs, and provide public health education. They support over 16,000 people. You can donate here.
Huacal is a food basket delivery service created by Sirilo and Oaxacking that sources food from Abastos Market, packs it into weekly portions, and distributes it now to those in need. It costs 350 pesos to feed a family of 4 each week. You can donate here.
Tlayudona is organizing an effort to create high-quality reusable masks to donate to local hospitals and clinics in Oaxaca. We are looking to create a sustainable effort that will supply local medical personnel with much-needed masks. At the same time, this project will provide living wages for several of Tlayudona´s hosts who no longer have work because of the pandemic. We ask that you donate what you can to support this effort.
Our friend, Cristobal Santiz Jimenez, is a community leader in the Tzotzil Chiapas village of Magdalena Aldama, Chiapas. He was arrested on March 14, 2020, and imprisoned on false charges, according to the Fray Bartolome de Las Casa Human Rights Center and our friend Alejandro Alarcon Zapata.
Cristobal is still in prison, and may be there indefinitely: All court business is halted because of COVID-19. His wife and family have run out of money.
I am asking your help to make a gift. To secure his freedom. To provide food for his family. To provide legal assistance. To keep him safe in prison.
Any amount is appreciated.
Defense Fund for Cristobal Santiz Jimenez, Make Your Gift Via PayPalSend to Alejandro Alarcon Zapata firstname.lastname@example.org I am sorry. We are not set up as a charitable fund and this is not tax-deductible. You would give, as we have, out of the goodness of your heart.
We just visited Cristobal and his wife Rosita on March 2, during our 2020 Chiapas Textile Study Tour. We have visited them for four years. They talked about the on-going boundary dispute that has turned into an armed conflict by neighboring Santa Marta, Chenalho. They were scared then, and more so now. Aldama is a smaller village, more vulnerable.
Here is the back-story sent to me by Alejandro, who is our point-person and trusted information source.
San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. as of March 14, 2020
Urgent Action No. 03
Incommunication, criminalization and arbitrary deprivation of liberty of community defender Cristóbal Sántiz Jiménez
The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center, A.C. (Frayba), documented the facts of human rights violations perpetrated against Mr. Cristóbal Sántiz Jiménez, (hereinafter Cristóbal) with the following facts: The arrest was made when he left his job today at 6:50 hrs . After 5 hours of being incommunicado, we confirm that the arrest was carried out by the State Attorney General’s Office, who transferred him to Tuxtla Gutiérrez and it was at 12:20 p.m. when the family was informed of the arrest of Mr. Cristóbal and his transfer to State Center for Social Reintegration of Sentences, N.14, el Amate, based in Cintalapa de Figueroa, Chiapas.
Cristóbal Santís Jiménez, peasant, belonging to the Tsotsil peoples, is representative of the Permanent Commission of Communards and Displaced Persons of Aldama. Member of the families that were attacked with high-caliber weapons by a paramilitary group from Santa Martha, Chenalhó and stripped of their land. He is a community defender, representative of the Permanent Commission of Communards and Displaced Persons of Aldama since the conflict arose due to widespread violence and forced displacement by the paramilitary group of Santa Martha, Chenalhó. In addition, Mr. Cristóbal has held traditional positions in his native town of Aldama, as a Traditional Regidor. Mr. Cristóbal has been working as a watchman for 21 years at the 133 Industrial Training Center in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas.
As a spokesman for the displaced communities, he has denounced the omissions of the Mexican State due to the escalation of violence in the upper Chiapas region. He was present during the signing of the Peace Accords, which was preceded by Governor Rutilio Escandón and Undersecretary Lic. Alejandro Encinas, immediately afterwards he participated during the so-called Banderazo de Paz. He has repeatedly faced threats from both the Mexican State that demanded his silence in exchange for his freedom; as well as death threats by the armed paramilitary group of Santa Martha, Chenalhó.
El Frayba requested precautionary measures number 284/18 before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to protect the life, safety and integrity of Mr. Cristóbal Santis Jiménez and his family.
For this reason, this Center for Human Rights considers that the State Attorney General’s Office is perpetrating serious human rights violations, such as criminalization, arbitrary deprivation of liberty, placing Mr. Cristóbal at a high risk to his integrity and security. personal.
This Center for Human Rights requests the immediate intervention of the federal and state government to implement pertinent actions for the prompt release of Mr. Cristóbal.
We request from national to international civil society to send your appeal to:
Lic. Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Constitutional President of Mexico Official Residence of the Pines. Miguel Alemán House. Col. San Miguel Chapultepec, C.P. 11850 Mexico City.
Fax: (+52) 55 5093 4901
Lic. Olga Sánchez Cordero. Secretary of the Interior of Mexico Bucareli 99, 1st. floor. Col. Juárez. Cuacthemoc delegation
Lic. Rutilio Escandón Cadenas. Constitutional Governor of the State of Chiapas Government Palace of the State of Chiapas, 1st Floor Av. Central y Primera Oriente, Colonia Centro, C.P. 29009. Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico
Cristóbal Sántiz Jiménez is a community defender of human rights, representative and spokesman for Tsotsil communities in forced displacement of Aldama, cultural promoter and traditional authority. His arrest occurs in the context of criminalization and threats to his life, liberty, security and integrity due to the constant denunciations of the omission of the Mexican State in the escalation of violence in the Altos de Chiapas region. Members of the Specialized Police of the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Chiapas, detained him on March 14, 2020, when he was leaving his job, kept him incommunicado for 5 hours and is currently incarcerated in the State Center for Social Reintegration of Sentenced Persons. , No.14, el Amate, based in Cintalapa de Figueroa, Chiapas, Mexico.
A journalist, Cristóbal’s friend, asked to AMLO for his liberation, check this link [AMLO is Mexico’s President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador]
After I wrote about and linked Alex Szerlip’s comprehensive article, Vintage Tech–Tyrian Purple, I asked immigration attorney Patrice Perillie how the fundraising effort to get the Mexican Dreamweavers Cooperative to the Santa Fe Folk Art Market this summer was going.
Patrice is the advocate for Mexican Dreamweavers and has set up a USA non-profit organization to accept tax-deductible donations.
Why Mexican Dreamweavers needs your help:
Mexican Dreamweavers supports the indigenous Mixtec women and men of Pinotepa de Don Luis, Oaxaca, to preserve their cultural heritage of back-strap loom weaving, harvesting and applying purple shell dye to native-grown cotton. This gift helps transport them to the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market to sell their work on a global scale. So important for survival and continuity.
What is most important to Oaxaca’s weavers and dyers?
To bring what they make to market. Without buyers, artisan craft will not survive. Artisans tell me this wherever we travel in Mexico. They ask, help us sell our work. Bring us to the USA. Bring people to visit us. Often, they do not speak Spanish and cannot communicate their needs beyond their indigenous language of Mixtec, or Zapotec or Ikoots without translation.
In this case, the Cooperative demonstrated their amazing talent by being accepted into the highly competitive Santa Fe International Folk Art Market — a juried show. We can help them get there. They must fund their own travel expenses that includes hotel, food and transportation for several people.
We are not yet “out of the woods!” There is still so much more to repair in Oaxaca state*as a result of the September 7, 2017, earthquake that registered 8.2 on the Richter Scale. The quake was centered just off-shore from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Oaxaca state, where most of the damage occurred in and around the town of Juchitan de Zaragoza.
Coastal villages, like where life is as it was thousands of years ago, have no fresh water, contaminated wells from broken septic systems, fissures in earthen floors, and crumbled dwellings. The prognosis: Broken lives. Broken homes. Broken hopes. Years to recover.
The weaving and fishing village of San Mateo del Mar is one such village where anthropologist Denise Lechner and pediatrician Anja Widman are working to repair the world.
This is where I have directed the funds that have come to me by check from people who have responded to this blog and Call for Help!
I want to take this moment to thank you.
Mary James, Modesto, CA
Richard Kowalczyk, Springfield, VA
Irene Schmoller and Cotton Clouds, Inc, Safford AZ
Mary Randall, Modesto, CA
Rebecca Neigher, Durham, NC
Roberta Megard, St. Paul, MN
Eshkie Zachai and Jerry Martin, Eugene, OR
Susanne Corrigan, Tallahassee, FL
Anonymous, Makawao, HI
Liliana Rico Kennedy, Ocala, FL
Countless more of you have made donations directly to Denise’s PayPal account and I’m sending personal Thank You’s on her behalf. Others have helped through the Francisco Toledo Foundation. There is also a way to make a wire transfer to the Alfredo Harp Helu Foundation that will make a 50% match.
Mail a check to me, payable to Norma Schafer, 500 N. Duke Street, Apt. 55-307, Durham, NC 27701. I will send the funds on for direct aid to either the Toledo Foundation or to Denise Lechner. Please specify which you prefer.
In the last ten days, there have been shock waves registering 6.1 to 4.1 several times a day, throughout the region. I imagine people are suffering from PTSD. Let alone the need for mental health, the public health risks are huge.
Map of Quake Region. You can see the fragility of the coast town of San Mateo del Mar, where I have visited. Dysentery and infection especially threaten the lives of children who are less resistant to disease.
Yes, there is much to do to repair our world. We know that Puebla State and Estado de Mexico are also damaged, and the death toll has risen in Mexico City.
And, then there is our Puerto Rico, USA Territory disaster, where federal help is scant and the situation is dire, and another Twitter War points to 45’s lack of moral compass.
Where ever you choose to give, please be generous and continue to be generous. Our friends need your help.
Sending sincerest thanks, Norma
P.S. DO NOT CANCEL YOUR TRIP to Oaxaca City, Puerto Escondido or Huatulco. These areas were not affected by the September 7 earthquake. I am returning to Oaxaca via Mexico City at the end of November. I intend to be in Mexico City for several days. I will not succumb to fear!
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
Norma contributes personal essay, How Oaxaca Became Home
Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
Click image to order yours!
Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university program development experience. See my resume.
Study Tours + Study Abroad are personally curated and introduce you to Mexico's greatest artisans. They are off-the-beaten path, internationally recognized. We give you access to where people live and work. Yes, it is safe and secure to travel. Groups are limited in size for the most personal experience.
Programs can be scheduled to meet your travel plans. Send us your available dates.
Designers, retailers, wholesalers, universities and other organizations come to us to develop customized itineraries, study abroad programs, meetings and conferences. It's our pleasure to make arrangements.
Our Clients Include
*Penland School of Crafts
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We send printable map via email PDF usually within 48-hours after order received. Where to see natural dyed rugs in Teotitlan del Valle and layout of the Sunday Tlacolula Market, with favorite eating, shopping, ATMs. Click Here to Buy Map
Dye Master Dolores Santiago Arrellanas with son Omar Chavez Santiago, weaver and dyer, Fey y Lola Rugs, Teotitlan del Valle