2020 Draws to a Close; New Works Underway!

Schools for Chiapas Year-End Letter

Dear friends,
As with everything else on the planet, the big Zapatista educational news of 2020 is directly related to  COVID-19. Schools for Chiapas continues to work hard to help the autonomous Mayan communities  of Chiapas, Mexico survive the pandemic and reopen their schools. 

With the support of 500+ small donors and dozens of volunteers 1 working from their homes, Schools  for Chiapas has raised over $100,000 to support the fight against the Coronavirus in the Zapatistas’ communities. On Sept. 1, 2020, we sent $91,000 to the Zapatista health system and we are now creating a warehouse of the best PPE (personal protective equipment) for Zapatista health workers in the highlands of Chiapas. In addition, we’re continuing to grow medicinal herbs in our nursery in San Cristobal and also building basic laboratories for the production of herbal tinctures. For the rest of 2020, we have  2-to-1 matching funds for all donations to fight COVID-19. In other words, if you can afford to donate $5 to save Zapatista lives, we will send $10 to the Zapatista health care system. 

We’ve also established a fund to support classroom construction, and as soon as the Zapatistas ease their  quarantine restrictions, we’ll be ready fund the construction of several new classrooms. In the meantime, we will fund the construction, installation, and operational costs for several new rural internet centers with satellite downlinks to provide educational internet access, research, and communication for Zapatistas in rural Chiapas during (and after) the pandemic. 

“Given the total absence of the bad governments, we strongly urge everyone [todos, todas,  todoas] in Mexico and around the world to follow the necessary scientifically-based sanitary  measures that will allow us to survive this pandemic.”

EZLN Statement, March 16, 2020

In many ways, the Zapatista response to the pandemic is a model for the entire world. In March 2020, they closed all schools and gathering places; at the same time, the Zapatistas expressed their clear frustration with the ineffective and unscientific official government measures against the pandemic. The Zapatista Health system is made up of Mayan subsistence farmers who selflessly provide vital health services as  community volunteers throughout the remote indigenous communities of Chiapas, Mexico.They have carefully educated and prepared their communities to take care of each other and to rely on science and  compassion to guide their actions. And this is where solidarity comes in…

Education • Food • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Herbal Medicines

Schools for Chiapas is honored to work alongside these inspiring frontline health workers as they courageously battle the pandemic under conditions of grinding poverty, climate change, and violent government-sponsored violence. For this reason, the men and women of the Schools for Chiapas team based in the highland city of San Cristobal de las Casas are currently involved in an intense new educational effort. We’re calling it La Bodega de Salud / The Warehouse of Health; and as a part of La Bodega de Salud, our Chiapas team is taking creative steps to stop the spread of the virus by teaching about and stockpiling effective PPE (personal protective equipment) to keep themselves, their families, and rural Mayan people healthy in today’s Chiapas, Mexico. In addition, others on the Schools for Chiapas team are producing COVID-19 -safe masks featuring tightly woven Zapatista style bandanas with rough silk inserts which according to the CDC carry a natural static electric charge that captures and holds the virus. Others are creating laboratories to immediately produce herbal tinctures in the city. Eventually, entire herbal laboratories will be donated to the Zapatistas, along with medicinal plant-starts (baby plants) and extensive training in producing high quality medicinal plant tinctures throughout rural Chiapas. 

For these myriad connected projects, your donations to Gifts of Change are the most important gifts you’ll ever make; and during the pandemic this is truer than ever. Your generosity will support a unique, indigenous-run health care system, fund school constructions, create satellite-based internet access, and  provide lifesaving food donations to besieged Mayan communities such as Nuevo San Gregorio, Moises  Gandhi, Magdalena de la Paz, and other communities suffering paramilitary violence and invasions.  

El Mercado Muy Otro online sales provide much needed income to rural Mayan communities in Chiapas, and we deeply appreciate your continued purchases. Over recent months, sales have skyrocketed allowing Schools for Chiapas to purchase more products such as t-shirts, jewelry,  weavings, wallets, key chains, art, patches, stickers, shawls, dolls, embroidery, and organic coffee made  by Zapatista women and men. During the pandemic, many people in quarantine have begun to enjoy  drinking flavorful organic coffee produced by Zapatista communities and sold through our online store.

SOMEONE YOU LOVE WOULD LOVE A ZAPATISTA MADE GIFT! 

Schools for Chiapas is gratified that our efforts to create new markets while supporting education and life during the pandemic are doing so well. But recently we were shocked and saddened to see the video of the burning of the Zapatista commercial center and coffee warehouse at Cuxulia,  Chiapas. When paramilitary terrorists splashed the fragile wooden building with gas and lit the structure, it quickly burned to the ground – thankfully no one was injured, but the entire year’s painstakingly-produced organic coffee harvest was lost!  

As an educational and humanitarian response, Schools for Chiapas is pledging all profits from the sale of Zapatista coffee as well as all funds raised from this Gift of Change to pay for rebuilding the New Dawn of the Rainbow Commercial Center and to repaint the Women’s Corn Mural.  

We hope that you will take a moment to donate to Schools for Chiapas, shop in our online store, drink  Zapatista coffee every morning, and wear our COVID-19 safe iconic Zapatista masks to help control the pandemic. Since these masks have come to identify Mayan peasants as social activist struggling  for dignity, democracy, and dignity, we call it Walk like a Zapatista. So, wear your own Zapatista mask to fight this pandemic in your own community!  

Yours for kids, 

Peter Brown aka Pedro Café, Schools for Chiapas spokesperson 

pedrocafe@schoolsforchiapas.org 

PS – Volunteers are at the heart of our long-term efforts to support the Zapatistas’ battle to survive  COVID-19. Please join us and share our tweets and posts, send along our texts and emails, and speak in  person with family, friends, organizations, businesses, unions, churches, and artists who might want to  help out. We have greatly expanded our base of support during the current crisis, so please take a moment  to get involved as a volunteer. Just email me at pedrocafe@schoolsforchiapas.org or simply fill out this  volunteer form: https://forms.gle/x8oZ62pBq4xf9fgX9

  619-232-2841 – www.schoolsforchiapas.org – info@schoolsforchiapas.org 

Footnotes

  1. Volunteers are at the heart of our long-term efforts to support the Zapatistas’ battle to survive  COVID-19. Please join us and share our tweets and posts, send along our texts and emails, and speak in  person with family, friends, organizations, businesses, unions, churches, and artists who might want to  help out. We have greatly expanded our base of support during the current crisis, so please take a moment  to get involved as a volunteer. Just email me at pedrocafe@schoolsforchiapas.org or simply fill out this  volunteer form: https://forms.gle/x8oZ62pBq4xf9fgX9