Visits with Southern Mexico's
Street accouchement and aboriginal People
Cheap Baby Toys
Matraca - Visiting Southern Mexico's "Street Children"
Matraca actuality stands not as a account or an appeal, but as a allegory for my own conversation, self-inquiry and acquirements about poverty, in this case amid the aboriginal and alive artery accouchement in Veracruz and Chiapas. Matraca is an acronym for Movimiento de Apoyo a Trabajadores de la Calle, an alignment based in Xalapa. But it additionally agency "noise-maker," a board toy that Mexican accouchement use aback they appetite to bless - anything. It makes a raucous, clacking noise, and I brainstorm that it represents the children's active announcement of spaciousness, acquainted best Acutely conceivably aback they are not actuality alone or abused, chargeless to explore, discover, and play. Hooray! Let loose. Whoopee! blaze that matraca! Spin, dance, whirl. Laugh.
In Mexico, there are about 180,000 accouchement and adolescents who alive in the streets; 20,000 of them are beneath than bristles years old. Matraca, the organization, was started in 1991 by two Jesuit priests, aboriginal David Fernández and again Juan Francisco Kitazawa, as allotment of the university community's beat to these children.
Xalapa signifies "sandy waters" in Nahuatl. It's in the centermost of the accompaniment of Veracruz, affiliated acreage of the Olmecs, Totonacas, Chichimecas, Toltecas and Teochichimecas, the Birthplace of Mexico's pre-Hispanic cultures, still agilely whispering to us through age-old art. The alone asperous peaks of Sierra Madre Oriental boss the mural of western Veracruz. Rolling blooming foothills bare fields of flowers, affluent coffee beans, animalitos, gente genial...
It was in the adjacent gray-cool anchorage of Veracruz that Hernán Cortez plunked bottomward his advancing ballast in 1519, activity on to beat the Aztecs. Now the accompaniment of Veracruz is a 450-mile stretch, a multi-colored-blended carpeting of seven actor people, best of them indigenous, with an Admixture of Spaniards, Africans, Italians, Greeks, French and Cubans. Some 3,000 years ago, the Olmecs predominated here, a adult chase that created their own mathematics, their own religious belief and their own calendar, which was after Adopted by the Aztecs and the Mayas. They were adept carvers of behemothic basalt heads, nine to ten anxiety tall, nine to ten bags in weight, with large-lips and broad-noses and facial expressions that accurate a aside disapproval.
Today at the anchorage of Veracruz, at that bewitched moment of sunrise: barest ablaze on hundreds of acquisitive boats blame into the sea, amnion gradually aflame by pinks and oranges, dabbled on oil-rig-shadowed ablaze water, beginning esperanzas for an abounding catch... And into the evening, active marimba bands, danzon, cervezas, seafood, giggling-joyfully shrieking children, a beggar bugged by rhythmic-sensual circuit of dancing in the afraid plaza...
The alive kids in Xalapa canyon hours in the streets affairs gum, charwoman car windshields, abatement bottomward taxis, allurement -- sometimes as clowns and jugglers. They absorb a lot of time aggravating to break one footfall advanced of the Seguridad Publica whose admiral accumulate aggravating to get them out of the streets. best of the accouchement advance a band with their families. About 150 of Xalapa's three thousand alive accouchement accept no home, no abode to apprentice their ABCs, get their commons or any affectionate of medical care.
Last Easter week, I was at Matraca's city ability of classrooms, offices, medical dispensary, kitchen, showers. adolescent adolescence Omar, Miguel, and Juan allocution to me about managing their lives on the streets. They comedy futbol and basketball with added accouchement in Matraca's alfresco patio. One of the boys, dehydration off from a shower, ancestor his arch out, beard over his eyes, like a allowance arising at sea-surface. Robert Colorado, acquisitive for tips, washes windshields at a adjacent cartage intersection. He tells me how he and four added youngsters were afresh bedfast for three canicule as a "traffic menace." I accept a abbreviate account with Angelina Muñoz who works in an agrarian movement with aboriginal Bodies in an agrarian movement that is aggravating to advice poor farmers get admission to water, accoutrement and affection seeds. She says they appetite to be self-sufficient. She additionally tells me about the seven adolescent girls, and one six-year-old boy -- all alone -- whom she lives with and cares for in Casa Matraca. Vanessa Torres describes activity into the streets to abutment alive children. Director Octavio Lara tells me about alive adjoin a anew proposed law that will lower the chastening age of adolescent Bodies from sixteen to fourteen.
That night, Sabado de Gloria, catedral, lights from orange bonfire advance absolution application to everyone, alike to the bent-to-the-ground anciana, who are affairs cositas for pennies in the esplanade beyond the cobbled street. Ah, I think, bigger to canyon on blessings than to anathema the darkness.
A Heart-Breaking Evening
A 16-year-old boy I've accepted for several years was cat-and-mouse alfresco of Matraca to allocution with me. He had been abandoned, forth with his sister, aback he was eight. Over the years, he would booty advantage of a few of the casework at Matraca but admired award his own places to sleep. I consistently looked advanced to actuality with him and, at times, his sister, acquirements about their lives, auspicious them to go to school, with accessible scholarships. He had struggled in antecedent years, generally application bargain inhalants to balmy himself, robbing, allegorical tourists to sex and drugs. But this night he told me about his 17-year-old sister, who formed as a prostitute for a year afore she Committed suicide. "She despaired," he said bleakly. And then, continued into a atramentous night, we sobbed calm and again angry like mad wolves, we beatific our admiring animosity and so abounding belief and smiles to a boyish babe who was dead by her own misery.
Street children, alive kids, alone adolescent Bodies actuality generally advertise their Bodies to survive. According to government statistics, some 16,000 Mexican amateur prostitute themselves; six of ten are boys. Some 60 percent of them are victims of animal abuse, bisected of them accept biologic problems. Abusive pimps inject some of them with anabolic steroids to sex-size their adolescent merchandise. Ten percent are HIV. bristles percent are boyhood moms...
At the contempo all-around appointment and World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, UNICEF appear it has been Able to advice cut in bisected the cardinal of accouchement dying from diarrhea. Yet three billion Bodies still alive with poor sanitation. UNICEF's ambition is apple-pie baptize at every school. corruption of accouchement in activity or acutely in bullwork is actuality added apparent and biting the all-around conscience. In atramentous corners of the all-around economy, Bodies are banned off to sweatshops, to prostitution, for calm assignment in Europe or Southeast Asia.
In West Africa and Brazil, laborers are taken to alien plantations. In genitalia of South Asia and North Africa, bullwork that has lasted for millennia still continues. Kevin Bales writes: "Slavery has meant a accident of chargeless will and best and is backed up by violence. alike aback there is no accurate torture, it brings about a cerebral degradation." About 24,000 Bodies die every day from ache or hunger-related diseases (down from 35,000 ten years ago). Three fourths of the deaths are accouchement beneath the age of five. An Estimated 800 actor Bodies ache from hunger. Ten percent of the accouchement in developing countries die afore the age of five. Tens of bags are accommodating in the appointment and, as leaders, are actuality presented accurate accomplish to abode issues of food, water, shelter, energy, sanitation, bloom services.
Matraca acclaimed its tenth ceremony aftermost year, accent by a appointment from Bishop Samuel Ruiz, who had done so abundant to avert the animal rights of the aboriginal in Mexico and abnormally in Chiapas, Mexico's southernmost state. He was chatty in Tzotzil and Tzeltal, the region's two best important aboriginal languages, and, con gran appetite y respeto a todos, he served for 40 years in Chiapas afore he accommodated on his 75th altogether on November 3, 1999. aback I anticipate of this acquaintance of the poor, I'm reminded of Rumi: "I'm so small, I can about be seen. How can this abundant adulation be central me? Look at your eyes: they're small, but they see astronomic things."
Ideas of Mexican Revolution's amusing shaking, about a hundred years ago, still echo in some leaders such as Samuel Ruiz: absent the administration of land, resources, aristocratic work; acknowledgment for aboriginal culture-religion-customs; nurturing-educating children; alteration from the corruption of the atomic into an across-the-board "fair-trading" giving and demography of appurtenances and services.
Chiapas has a citizenry of four million, and it is a acreage of amazing flowers, lakes, plants, rivers, hills, volcanoes, blubbery jungles, and forests bearing amber and rosewood. Tourists appear actuality to see the Mayan archaeological sites of Palenque, Bonampak, Izapa, Yaxchilan. aftermost year, on a cool, bendable backing atramentous I was in Parque Central de San Cristobal, Chiapas. The Mexican Marine Corps, snappily uniformed, abounding orchestra and chorus, were singing their audacity and hearts out: operatics and ballads of the Revolution such as "Adelita" (long blackest beard to whom the advocate will acknowledgment breath alternative and accomplish beautiful, breath-taking love).
The esplanade is packed, yet accouchement still acquisition amplitude to jump for blitheness as the choir's abounding loud articulation all-overs a behemothic banderole of two doves about to kiss, perched in the dejected skies. Todos a la Feria de la Primavera y de la Paz. Peace. Violins, singing, tears affecting so abundant affliction and adversity and loves, joy of the acquaintance of such emotion. Dulces. Popcorn, aflame blah on the cob, dancing, waving, flirting. Esperanza. Hope for peace. For bread-and-butter tranquility.
Luis Arriaga, advocate and Jesuit scholastic, took me to appointment Acteal and Las Abejas, a peaceful accumulation of Tzotzil Indians organized in 1992. We collection airy anchorage in a Nissan pickup, at times forth appealing blooming forests, Bodies scurrying with copse angry to their backs or blame goats. Las Abejas association in Acteal are "displaced," peaceful revolutionaries, acclimation for amusing justice, still a aching association because of the annihilation on December 22, 1997 of 45 of their members, an advance by paramilitaries who amidst their association from 11:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Ernesto Paciencia (secretary of the Acteal community) showed me the makeshift abbey area so many, praying and abnegation for accord were dead and the arresting gorges area Bodies fled, a abundant adolescent woman stripped, violated, babyish cut from her womb. Exactly 45 Bodies are active in two layers in a accurate edifice, area Ernesto shows me pictures on the walls of the deceased, including his mother and sister. We sit agilely for several minutes. Tears cannot hide. appealing Zenaida, now captivation easily so affectionately with abuelita, is one of the fifty accouchement orphaned; she's dark from demography a ammo to the head.
Later we go to a wake, for the community's friend, Victoriano, in the mountains, our Nissan auto sometimes sliding backwards, a anew purchased casket afraid out aslant in the back. A few horses beam at us aback we assuredly acquisition a ample community, some complaining about the body of their Victoriano, friend, relative, bedmate and father. He was 52. As Luis wryly says, "He died of poverty." abounding men abrasion white tunics. Three men comedy a airy melody: a violin, a guitar, and harp. The blanket-covered body is placed in the board casket with some of Victoriano's accouterments and a few peso coins. We aroma certain afterlife and the activity and altruism about it. As we leave, we are offered blah tortillas with beans, adapted over an accessible fire. They tasted muy rico, as we stood eating, alms condolences, smoke in our faces.
At the '98 Congress For Indigenous, April 13-15.
Such an alarming happening, so active actuality here! Fifty-six altered indigenous groups are represented, co-mingling and affably boot for derechos humanos. ample groups alive on the zócalo for four canicule and three nights...living in accessible tents on this gran capital of México Viejo, risen from Lago de Texcoco, bags of Indian peoples. Watching are heavily-armed-and-heavily-vehicled soldiers. They arrest some foreigners, so they can bung them out of the country. There are marches and protests adjoin bread-and-butter abuse of Indian laborers and people. I apprehend added languages all about me: Tarahumara, Chol, Mixteco, Nahuatl, Zogue, Zapoteco. Banners fly, greens, reds, whites of Mexican flag: Dignidad para los Indigenos and Nunca mas un México sin Nosotros.
It's backward night, into the morning and afore sleeping on blankets, so close, affecting this old, stone-blocked plaza, visioning aureate Aztec temples, enlightened-feathered priests dancing on acme of pyramids, calling for a beginning -- and non-violent -- affectionate of animal cede to anniversary other.
I so adore and am nourished by such times with Bodies and families of Southern Mexico: tristezas, alegrias, administration ideas, hugs, amusement and tears, the abrupt acidity of children.
Matraca - Visiting Southern Mexico's "Street Children"