Thursday, August 08, 2013

In Times Wanting: a novel by KEVIN MORRIS

Kevin Morris is a CIASP alumnus and has published a novel. It includes the story of CIASP in the late 1960's

From the Publisher General Store Publish House

In Times Wanting
A novel by: Kevin Morris

After surviving near fatal troubles that a New World Order has brought to Mexico, Berrin and Eileen meet up in Ottawa after a decade long separation, both in search of a new beginning.

Their story draws upon a little-known history of youth and community engagement between Canada and Mexico. Ending his retreat into Canada's hinterlands, Berrin has found shelter in a co-op of community activists in Ottawa, his return also landing him in a job in the nearby craft market, distraction in an Artist-Run-Centre, and renewed contact with his family farm. And hope, which materializes with the re-appearance of Eileen in his life.

But the ideals and dreams that had initially taken him into international development return to plague him. As the story swings between Mexico and Canada, city and country, Berrin struggles to find his roots, transcend his ever-descending angst and nightmares, and create a new life with Eileen.

About the Author
Kevin Morris has drawn his inspiration for this story from his international development experiences in Mexico, his work in artist-run-centres across Canada, and his Irish roots in rural Canada-as well as from his varied careers as a potter, teacher, youth worker and community developer for youth centres across Canada. He has been previously published in The Antigonish Review.

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By: Kevin Morris
ISBN 978 1-77123-028-5

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

CBC I: The Current looks at violence in Tamaulipas Mexico

From CBC Radio I, The Current.Broadcast March 17, 2010Ana Maria Tremonti is the host

Mexico Drug War - Journalist

We started this segment with a clip of a woman who lives in the state of Tamaulipas in north-eastern Mexico. And she's describing what she is seeing on the side of the road as she drives past. Dozens, perhaps even hundreds of bullet casings. Cars riddled with bullet holes. Signs of the latest shootout in a drug war that is increasing in intensity.

But if you read the local newspaper, or turn on the television or radio, you won't find stories about drug-related crime. That's because many journalists are terrified of the consequences of reporting on the drug cartels. The intimidation has become so effective that Reynosa -- one of the state's largest cities -- has fallen under a de facto news blackout. And that's led to citizen journalism, this woman, and others trying to document what is happening and posting it on-line.

Roberto Lopez knows only too well how dangerous it has become for journalists to work in Reynosa. He is the Editorial Director with Milenio Television in Mexico City. Last month, Milenio sent a crew to Reynosa. But they were kidnapped and beaten trying to work there. We aired a clip in translation.

Franc Contreras is a reporter based in Mexico City. He has been following the situation in Reynosa.

Mexico Drug War - Analyst

It was the Dallas Morning News that originally reported that there was a drug-related news black-out in Reynosa. And the newspaper even pulled one of its reporters after he was approached on the street in Reymosa and told that he didn't have permission to be there. Mark Edgar is the newspaper's Deputy Managing Editor. He says that for security reasons, he won't go into specifics about that incident. But he says it's part of an on-going effort to strike a balance between getting the story and keeping the newspaper's reporters safe.

George Grayson has written several books about Mexico's drug war. He's a Senior Associate at the U.S. Center for Strategic Studies. And he says the situation in Reynosa is likely to get worse before it gets better. George Grayson was in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Listen to Part Two:

Thursday, December 03, 2009

KAIROS: CIDA funding cut to Human Rights and Justice Group

The following e-message raises an issue that should anger CIASP veterans.
First, KAIROS has been one of the few Canadian agencies that consistently works to promote human justice issues and sustainable development in Mexico and Latin America.

Second, KAIROS has played a very active role in documenting the environmental chaos and abusive labour policies of Canadian mining investments in the San Xavier mine located in San Luis Potosi — not far from the CIASP villages and ranchos.

Third, CIDA funding is increasingly and narrowly restricted to projects that reward Canadian Business Interests and Investments. The social justice element of Canadian foreign policy has been specifically targeted for cuts.

Fourth, CIASPer John Dillon has dedicated much of his working life to preparing documents and research reports documenting social justice for KAIROS.

Please read the following message and take a few minutes to act on it. I would also suggest that any CIASPer with a “portofolio” should review their investments to see if they include Canadian Mining projects in Latin America. Canadian mining intersests in Latin America, and in many other places of the world have been linked to unfair labour practices and environmental rape.

More information about the cuts are reported in the Globe and Mail I’ve also included one news item (from amongst several) reporting on the environmental and labour disruption linked to the San Xavier project in San Luis Potosi (

Trabajos de excavación de Minera San Xavier en el Cerro de San Pedro, San Luis Potosí, el pasado día 17Foto María Meléndrez Parada

From: [
On Behalf Of Patricia Smiley

Sent: December 2, 2009 11:36 PM

Subject: [SundayCommunity] Fw: Urgent Action: CIDA Cuts KAIROS Funding

Please read this and send letters.
  Patricia Smiley
42 Cavell Ave., Apt. 5
Etobicoke, ON   M8V 1P2
Phone: removed for privacy reasons

--- On Wed, 12/2/09, KAIROS Canada <> wrote:

From: KAIROS Canada <>

Subject: Urgent Action: CIDA Cuts KAIROS Funding


Received: Wednesday, December 2, 2009, 4:37 PM   



On November 30, KAIROS received notice from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) that our project proposal for 2009-2013 had been declined. We were not given an explanation for this decision, other than that our program did not fit CIDA priorities.

Our 2009-2013 proposal was developed within two priority sectors of CIDA: promoting good governance (human rights) and advancing ecological sustainability (reducing the impact of climate change and addressing land degradation). It was approved at every level of CIDA before being declined on November 30.

This decision terminates a 35-year history of cooperation between CIDA and KAIROS and its predecessor organizations, and compromises the work of human rights and ecological integrity in the developing world. (For possible impacts on specific partners, please see the background materials below.) This decision also negatively affects the ability of Canadians to develop skills and knowledge in the exercise of their global citizenship.

Please contact your MP to discuss this urgent matter. Please, respectfully and politely,

  • - Speak about your own positive involvement with KAIROS;
  • - Express grave concern about this decision;
  • - Ask that CIDA restore its long-standing relationship with KAIROS;
  • - Emphasize the impacts of this decision on global partners and our work in Canada;
  • - Ask them to call on CIDA to reverse this decision.

Please also write to:
The Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada,

The Hon. Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation,
Margaret Biggs, President of CIDA,;
requesting a reversal of the decision.
Please copy your letters to KAIROS at

Further Background Material
- KAIROS submitted a 4-year program proposal to CIDA on human rights and ecological sustainability. The total program cost of the proposal is $9,211,483 over four years (CIDA contributes just over $7 million of that amount). This is consistent with previous levels of CIDA funding to KAIROS.
- On November 30, we received a call from CIDA informing us that our 2009-2013 program proposal had been rejected and that KAIROS would no longer be receiving funding from CIDA. We asked for an explanation and were informed that our program did not fit CIDA’s priorities. This was the last day of an extension to our current proposal. No written explanation has been provided.
- This decision, if not reversed, would cut funds to 21 ecumenical and citizen’s organizations in Latin America, Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, and cut educational work that helps Canadians across the country to develop skills and knowledge in the exercise of their global citizenship.


  • - KAIROS and its precursor organizations have been funded by CIDA since 1973.
  • - The KAIROS-CIDA 2006-2009 program received a positive audit report and an excellent evaluation.
  • - KAIROS staff worked closely with global partners to develop the 2009-2013 program proposal which focused on human rights and ecological justice.
  • - It was submitted to CIDA in March 2009 and went fairly quickly through all levels of approval. KAIROS made all adjustments to the program requested by our program officer.
  • - The proposal arrived on the desk of Bev Oda, the Minister of International Cooperation, in July 2009. It remained on the Minister’s desk for five months.
  • - In September 2009, when our agreement had still not been signed, we were granted a two-month extension on our previous contribution agreement. During this time we received no communication from the Minister’s office. On November 30, the last day of this extension, we received the phone call from CIDA informing us that KAIROS would not be funded.

CIDA priorities and human rights

  • - With the support of CIDA staff, and in collaboration with our partners, our proposal was developed within two priority sectors of CIDA: promoting good governance (human rights) and advancing ecological sustainability (reducing the impact of climate change and addressing land degradation). Our proposal was deemed by CIDA staff to be within CIDA criteria and priorities throughout the approval process.
  • - Our proposal places a strong priority on advancing human rights. States are obliged to protect, respect and ensure fulfillment of human rights. Canada is expected to collaborate to fulfill these rights, including providing international assistance for these efforts. Our proposal is one way in which the government can demonstrate that it is providing support to the fulfillment of rights around the globe.
  • - Our focus on human rights is completely consistent with the ODA Accountability Act which came into effect in June of 2008. The act requires all Official Development Assistance "to be consistent with international human rights standards."
Impact of the decision

  • - This decision, if it is not reversed, will have a devastating impact on the work and well-being of our partners overseas, the hundreds of marginalized communities and the thousands of people who have benefited from their programs. Furthermore, it will decimate our education program in Canada, which enhances Canadian’s commitment to international cooperation.
  • - KAIROS supports partners in countries such as Sudan, the Congo, the Philippines, and Colombia who face extreme human rights and humanitarian crises as well as political repression. Many of our overseas partners risk their lives for the work that they do. KAIROS’ accompaniment, advocacy and education work with partners has saved lives.
  • - In the Congo, KAIROS funding means a women’s legal clinic to address rampant gender-based violence will be established. Loss of this funding to our critical human rights partner, Héritiers de la Justice, compromises this critical work to fight rape as a weapon of war.
  • - In Sudan, KAIROS is working with Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) and its members to mobilize greater action for democratic peace. The full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan is essential to ensuring that basic humanitarian, food security, livelihood needs of women and children and their communities will be met. Without KAIROS funding, the SCC will not be able to adequately pressure parties to implement this peace agreement. In a country with very weak civil society networks, SCC has been an essential voice in negotiating and implementing peace.
  • - In Indonesia, KAIROS, through CIDA, supports KONTRAS: The Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence. KONTRAS is highly recognized as a credible human rights organization in Indonesia and internationally, working specifically on human rights monitoring, documentation and advocacy. KONTRAS plays a lead role in ensuring the Indonesian government investigates past military abuses and compensates victims (and the families of victims) of human rights violations and military atrocities. Without KAIROS funding, KONTRAS will lose ground on the achievements made over the years in widening democratic space in Indonesia and will be unable to hold the Indonesian government accountable for national and international human rights covenants.
  • - In Colombia, KAIROS supports a grassroots women’s human rights organization, Organizacion Femenina Popular (OFP), in Magdela Medio, a region that has experienced some of the worst human rights abuses in Colombia. The OFP now has a membership of 5,000 women in the region of Magdalena Medio and runs 22 women’s centers, offering programs which include integrated community development, human rights of women, health and legal services, and education. In a recent letter the OFP appealed to Minister Oda to continue funding to KAIROS, "so that our sons and daughters grow up without being recruited by armed groups, kidnapped or assassinated - so that they have the right to a dignified life."

   This message was sent from KAIROS Canada to Patricia Smiley . It was sent from: KAIROS, 310 Dupont Street Suite 200 , Toronto, ON M5R 1V9, Canada. You can modify/update your subscription via the link below.   Email Marketing by <


Monday, November 02, 2009

Dia de Muertos: From NTX/EFE via

La celebración del Día de Muertos en México es una mezcla entre la cultura prehispánica y el catolicismo, luego de que la Iglesia, a través del tiempo, le ha añadido simbolismos de esa religión

A diferencia de Europa, el Día de Muertos tiene en México un cariz de fiesta, donde se compite por realizar el mejor altar.
Fotografía: EFE/NTX.

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MÉXICO (NTX/EFE)._ La celebración del Día de Muertos en México es una mezcla entre la cultura prehispánica y el catolicismo, luego de que la Iglesia, a través del tiempo, le ha añadido simbolismos de esa religión.
Esta fiesta está llena de costumbres como colocar un altar en memoria de los difuntos, ya sea en casa, los panteones, las lápidas o en los templos y celebrar una misa en honor a los fallecidos.
Los altares u ofrendas son adornadas con papel picado de colores, flores de cempasúchil, comida variada, veladoras, dulces, bebidas y fotografías, pero principalmente las cosas que en vida le gustaba a la persona degustar.
El 1 y el 2 de noviembre los feligreses acuden a la mayoría de los templos para solicitar que se rece por sus difuntos, ya sea en forma comunitaria o si las condiciones económicas lo permiten, pagar para que se oficie una misa en su honor.
Notimex realizó un recorrido por dos templos para investigar los precios de las "donaciones" que se solicitan para estos dos días, a fin de que en las misas que se ofician se nombre a los que ya no existen en este mundo.
En el templo de San Hipólito, ubicado en avenida Hidalgo 107, colonia Centro, la petición colectiva por los deudos es de 35 pesos el 1 de noviembre y para las misas individuales es de 250 pesos, pero se solicita con un mes de anticipación.
En la parroquia de San Fernando, en la colonia Guerrero, delegación Cuauhtémoc, la petición colectiva para el 2 de noviembre, se hace mediante donativos que se colocan dentro de un sobre con los nombres de los fallecidos.
En otras fechas el familiar tiene que dar 25 pesos, pero en la celebración de los Fieles Difuntos la solicitud se hace en sobre cerrado, mientras que las misas individuales "rezadas" cuestan 100 pesos y las "cantadas" 250.
La festividad del Día de Muertos es una fusión entre los rituales prehispánicos en su honor y las celebraciones católicas del Día de los Fieles Difuntos y Todos los Santos.
Este festejo se divide en dos partes: la primera es el 1 de noviembre, el día de Todos los Santos, esta fecha se celebra a los santos que tuvieron una vida ejemplar, así como a los niños que murieron.
El 2 de noviembre, Día de los Fieles Difuntos, se celebra a los muertos adultos, esta fiesta es mayor en comparación con la del día primero.
En la antigüedad las fiestas para los muertos se realizaban en julio y agosto, y duraban 20 días y un mes, respectivamente. La celebración de los difuntos niños se llamaba "Miccailhuitontli" y la de los adultos "Xocohuetzi".
Con la llegada de los misioneros y el Evangelio, la costumbre de festejar a los muertos prevaleció mezclada con la doctrina cristiana.
La muerte para los indígenas no tenía las connotaciones de la religión católica, como el cielo y el infierno, se creía que las almas de las personas tenían rumbos determinados según como habían fallecido y no por su comportamiento en la vida.
La ofrenda a los difuntos y todos los ritos que rodean la celebración encierran una riqueza simbólica que constituye un canto a la vida.
La flor de cempasúchil representa al Sol, símbolo de Dios que hace florecer la vida de las almas y la comida es un signo de comunión.
La cruz sobre el altar significa todos los caminos, los cuatro puntos cardinales; los brazos de la cruz llevan a Dios y las velas significan la iluminación del camino para que las almas lleguen a disfrutar de la luz divina.

Niños mexicanos miran a la Muerte entre dulces y calacas
Los niños mexicanos sostienen divertidos la mirada a "La Parca" en una feria que los hace protagonistas del tradicional Día de Muertos y que los sumerge entre calacas sonrientes, dulces y esqueletos de peluches.
Los pequeños son los protagonistas de la novena Feria de las Calacas que, con una muestra artesanal, espectáculos, una instalación artística y, por supuesto, la ofrenda de muertos, organiza este año el Centro Nacional de las Artes mexicano, CENART.
"Es un tema que a veces no se aborda con los niños y que es parte de la vida, ésta es una oportunidad para hablarlo y conocer su propia mirada", indicó Miriam Martínez Garza, coordinadora nacional del programa cultural infantil "Alas y Raíces", eje central de la feria este año.
Por espacio de cinco días, del 29 de octubre al 2 de noviembre, durante las tradicionales celebraciones del Día de Muertos mexicano, el CENART programa una serie de actividades enfocadas a que los más pequeños comprendan el sentido de recordar a los que se fueron.
La parte más divertida de la feria es la instalación del artista sonoro Arcángel Constantini que consiste en una pequeña carpa a oscuras donde cuelgan en cadenas varios esqueletos de peluches, y que reaccionan con un quejido ante la luz.
Los niños, con una vela en la mano, recorren a tientas el espacio para descubrir la presencia de las ánimas de los peluches cuando la luz pasa junto a ellos. "Es una reflexión sobre la vida después de la muerte también para los objetos", explicó la coordinadora.
"Este año estamos iniciando un diálogo de las tradiciones prehispánicas, lo muy mexicano, con el mundo más contemporáneo", explicó Martínez Garza sobre el aire de "innovación" del que se impregna el evento.
También pueden grabar un mensaje para sus muertos más queridos, que luego se escucha en una incesante cacofonía junto a la ofrenda.
Ésta, coronada por las tradicionales calaveras de azúcar y bañada en el humo de incienso, fue construida este año con cerca de 300 cajas de madera.
Conectan sus distintas partes varias cuerdas con pinzas para que quien lo desee pueda llevar las fotografías de sus allegados fallecidos y rendirle homenaje en la ofrenda del Cenart.
Asimismo, hay espectáculos de payasos centrados en la muerte, desde un punto de vista lúdico e irónico, y se celebrará, como cada año en la feria, el Paseo de los Muertos, una escenificación oral con cuentos de terror e historias tradicionales, mecidos por una banda sonora y a lo largo de toda la cañada del centro.
Junto a la ofrenda se sitúan una veintena de artesanos, llegados de varios estados del País, como Estado de México y Oaxaca, que ofrecen productos tradicionales del Día de Muertos: calacas, muñecos de esqueletos vestidos en un sinfín de formas, calaveras de azúcar y chocolate y otros dulces.
"Tardo entre 8 y 10 días en hacer una calaca", explicó Melania, una artesana que achaca al clima la rapidez con la que puede secarse la silicona con la que consolida sus figuras de papel y palitos de madera.
Cerca, varias vendedoras exhiben los coloridos dulces hechos con leche y panes de muerto que dan sabor a esta jornada a medio camino entre un mundo y el otro.
Entre lo más vistoso está toda una amplia gama de golosinas modeladas como coloridas frutas, que combinan el gusto del dulce de leche con el del vegetal que representan.
A diferencia de Europa, la jornada de Difuntos tiene en México un cariz de fiesta: además de visitar las tumbas de los seres queridos fallecidos, se canta, se come y se bebe, y se celebra su recuerdo.
México se cubre de calacas, popularizadas por el grabador José Guadalupe Posada, 1852-1913, que ofrecen una visión menos dramática de "La Catrina" o "La Flaca", nombres que se dan a la muerte.
Es tradicional que se coloquen ofrendas en las casas y en muchas instituciones, que a veces adquieren una dimensión espectacular. Los altares de muertos recuerdan, entre ofrecimientos y fotografías, a los seres queridos.
Según una encuesta reciente, el 83 por ciento de los mexicanos prefiere celebrar esta tradición propia frente al 6 por ciento que se ve más atraído por la anglosajona Halloween y sus disfraces de monstruos.

Mestizaje de dos culturas
El altar del Día de Muertos es el resultado del mestizaje o hibridación que nació luego de la conquista española, señaló Carlos Serrano, director del Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas de la UNAM.
Serrano precisó que esta conmemoración data desde hace tres mil años, cuando las culturas azteca, maya, purépecha, náhuatl y totonaca, originarias del centro del territorio mexicano celebraban a los muertos durante todo el noveno mes del calendario azteca.
Con la llegada de los españoles comenzaron las ofrendas tal y como las conocemos hoy en día, se tienen registros que en 1563 el religioso Sebastián de Aparicio, colocó la primera en la Hacienda de Careaga y fue reproducida posteriormente en otras regiones del país.
También fueron introducidos nuevos objetos como el tradicional pan de muerto, que tiene sus orígenes en el siglo XVIII, con la intención de incrementar el consumo de la harina de trigo.
Las tradicionales calaveritas de chocolate y de azúcar que se venden en los mercados de México también tienen su razón de ser en las culturas prehispánicas de quienes conservaban los cráneos como trofeos y para mostrarlos en los rituales que simbolizaban la muerte y el renacimiento.

Patrimonio de la humanidad
La Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura, Unesco, declaró en 2003 a la festividad indígena del Día de Muertos como Obra Maestra del Patrimonio Cultural de la Humanidad debido a su riqueza cultural.
La proclamación de la Unesco, además de premiar y reconocer la importancia de esta fecha, pretende salvaguardarla como una tradición que debe revitalizarse y permanecer dentro del inventario mundial de ese patrimonio.
También se debe a que la celebración del Día de Muertos ha trascendido más allá de las fiestas populares, abarca áreas del arte como la pintura y la literatura, pues hay creaciones artísticas que músicos, pintores y poetas mexicanos han generado en los últimos siglos.
Ejemplo de ello es "La Catrina", de José Guadalupe Posada, inmortalizada y dada a conocer mundialmente por el muralista Diego Rivera, quien la coloca como personaje central de su fresco "Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda" o por Octavio Paz en su libro, El laberinto de la Soledad, en el que dedica un capítulo a este día. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Xilitla: Las Pozas and Gardens of Edward James

Las Pozas, Xilitla San Luis Potosi (Mexico)

In 1965, Canadian CIASPers were invited to a day of relaxation at Las Pozas. This happened at the end of the summer and prior to returning to Canada. No one remembers who was responsible for the invitation, or who served as the host. But all students who visited the site for a day of swimming and "barbacoa" have vivid memories of that day.

For more in English, see Margaret Hook's book "Surreal Eden: Edward James and Las Pozas"

(Surreal Eden. Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 2007.)

Surreal Eden: Edward James & Las Pozas traces the trajectory of Edward James, the English surrealist, poet, patron of Dalí and Magritte, who created 'Las Pozas' -a homage to surrealism, on a swathe of rainforest in the mountains of Mexico. The story of how a frustrated artist attempts to build an earthly paradise and ends up creating an outstanding work of art. Photos by Sally Mann, Graciela Iturbide, Chris Rauschenberg & others.

Also published in a Spanish edition: Edward James y Las Pozas

'Surreal Eden' does what many good art biographies and histories do: remind us of what gets forgotten and left out of 'official' canons."

- RainTaxi

"James's architectural art had no use beyond its own fantastic forms. It was both process and spectacle, and inspiration for inspiration."

- The New York Times

"a visually luscious book, the art writer ... Margaret Hooks provides a monument to James's fantastical life and works and a blueprint for his subconscious ..."

- Vogue Living


En riesgo, el Jardín Escultórico de Xilitla By frodriguez

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Xilitla: Las Pozas is Deteriorating

Un jardín lleno de valor... en riesgo
El conjunto escultórico de "Las Pozas", en San Luis Potosí, fue incluido por la organización World monuments Watch en su lista de sitios en riesgo


La organización internacional World monuments Watch reconoció el valor artístico del Jardín escultórico de "Las Pozas", que construyó el filántropo y artista inglés Edward James en la Huasteca potosina, al incluirlo hoy en su lista de monumentos en peligro de 2010.

De acuerdo con un comunicado, en la última reunión del Consejo de esta organización internacional dedicada a la conservación y preservación del patrimonio artístico y monumental del mundo, se seleccionó a este espacio construido en los años 60.

De México además se incluyeron en la lista el acueducto de Tembleque que va de Zempoala a Otumba, el Templo de San Bartolo Soyaltepec en Oaxaca, el Templo de San Felipe Tindaco en Tlaxiaco, así como el Templo y Convento de los Santos Reyes y el Convento de la Comunidad en Meztitlán.

Estos nombres se suman a los de otros lugares como Machu Picchu (Perú), el Teatro Colón y el Centro Histórico de Buenos Aires (Argentina), la catedral de San Jaime en Jerusalem (Israel), la ruta de Santiago de Compostela, el Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia en Barcelona y la ciudad vieja de µvila (España).

La World Monuments Fund (WMF) anuncia cada dos años la lista del World Monuments Watch de los 100 sitios del patrimonio cultural en peligro, para llamar la atención de la comunidad internacional ante la amenaza que sufre algún lugar artístico o arquitectónico por el deterioro natural o por el abandono.

Desde hace varios años esta fundación está dedicada a preservar el patrimonio cultural alrededor del mundo, de ahí que esta lista se convierta en un llamado a la acción para el rescate y preservación de los monumentos y sitios en peligro, que constituyen parte del patrimonio cultural del mundo.

Con la selección de Xilitla en la lista del WWM se reconoce el valor artístico de este espacio único en México, que desde hace dos años está a cargo del Fondo Xilitla A.C. Con el apoyo de la Fundación Pedro y Elena Hernández, Cemex, el gobierno de San Luis Potosí y la Cámara de Diputados.

La asociación civil se ha encargado de preservar el jardín escultórico creado por Edward James y proteger la flora de la zona.

Al conocer la noticia, el Fondo Xilitla, que preside Damian Fraser, señaló que la selección del jardín escultórico "Las Pozas" representa un importante y significativo reconocimiento al valor patrimonial y artístico de este espacio, y abre las puertas para que diferentes organizaciones y asociaciones internacionales apoyen su preservación y conservación.

"Esto permitirá que diversos sectores e instituciones confluyan en torno a este importante espacio mediante esfuerzos de cooperación internacional para asegurar la preservación histórica, cultural y social de este jardín escultórico a través de la asistencia técnica y el flujo de recursos que permitan su conservación".

Gerardo Estrada, secretario técnico del Fondo Xilitla, y responsable de presentar la candidatura del jardín escultórico de Xilitla ante la WWM, destacó que el anuncio ayudará a recaudar los fondos necesarios para su preservación, además de que centra la atención sobre este espacio ubicado en la huasteca potosina, que se ha convertido en un icono cultural en la región".

El jardín escultórico "Las Pozas" cuenta con cerca de 40 hectáreas con alrededor de 200 construcciones de inspiración surrealista, entre las que destacan 36 por sus colores y dimensiones, entre ellas "El Palacio de Bambú", "Homenaje a Max Ernst" y "Tina de Baño con forma de ojo".

"Las Pozas" está abierta al turismo, que puede visitar las magnificas esculturas y las nueve albercas que se forman en las cascadas que caen a lo largo del río que cruza la propiedad.

Lesley Margaret Soden



Mother, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, artist, seeker. Born July 29, 1953, in Montreal. Died Jan. 11 in Toronto of breast cancer, aged 55.

Lesley Soden bounded into the world exuberant and larger than life, engaged in everyone and everything.
At 18, Lesley put her innate charm to work while travelling in Southeast Asia with her sister and brother-in-law. On the flight to Manila, she captivated the president of a large company, who sent his limousine to fetch her and her companions for dinner. There Lesley regaled the guests with a psychological game, then adroitly analyzed everyone's responses and was given an islands tour as a thank you.

Lesley returned to Canada and put her psychology degree from McGill University to work with disadvantaged teens at a community centre in Montreal.

At 40, Lesley was given a party and an incredible quilt. Squares of white cloth were sent all over the globe to be decorated by friends and family aged 7 to 70, many insisting they had no artistic talent. Nevertheless the squares were embroidered, silk screened and painted, then made into a beautiful quilt. This quilt inspired a conference at the University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education on the power of community and purpose to inspire people.

Always a superb teacher, Lesley's professors in the master of art history program at the University of Western Ontario in London recall how she made a copy to scale of one of Piero della Francesca's immense frescoes to share what she had learned while studying in Italy. At her doctoral thesis defence at OISE, she dared to hand out pencils and pads to the examiners and invited them to engage in spontaneous image-making - to help them understand her thesis on spontaneous art as a vehicle for self-awareness.

Later that year, Lesley and her love, Michael Moody, produced her crowning achievement, their son, Jack Moody.

Lesley went on to become an award-winning public speaker, a micro-entrepreneur who helped businesses harness their creativity and a beloved teacher at Seneca College in business ethics and applied communication.

She could be a trying person at times in the best way, calling upon people to really live, question and wonder. She delighted in people's successes no matter how small, shared their pain and was passionate about helping people discover themselves.

But we remember best the down-home Lesley who taught the neighbourhood kids to play guitar, dance and paint; organized school reunions; fashioned elaborate costumes for Jack, who wanted to be an item of food each Halloween; and was vibrant and present for every conversation. When asked about the meaning of life in her final days, she said, "To love and to be loved is all that matters." She had succeeded.

Ann Soden is Lesley's sister.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Phil Little: Memories of El Rayo (Pisaflores), Hidalgo

Phil Little has posted an account of his time 40 years ago in El Rayo (Pisaflores) Hidalgo. He's managed to dig up some interesting pictures to accompany his remembrance, and all CIASP'ers will greatly appreciate it. The story is posted to another blog, but is easily accessed at the link

Enjoy this, and consider adding your own pictures and thoughts.

Another reminder about the Facebook site for CIASP. There is a Facebook group named CIASP and anyone can join this. The advantage of the Facebook site is that it will allow everyone to directly contact anyone on the list (without using an intermediary to provide email addresses).

Facebook should be used with caution! If you are just creating an account, you should provide the minimal amount of personal information. You should also make certain that you minimize your "visibility to others" by choosing the preferences that locks out many details to strangers. Finally, do not use the applications and other programs that can be added to your Facebook account. Most privacy issues are associated with the "add-on" applications. 

Monday, August 10, 2009

Malverde: the Origin of this Cult

from 9 de agosto de 2009
Impreso 1710 | reportajes

Malverde: el origen del culto

Relacionado como el santo de los narcos, Malverde es en la actualidad una figura venerada "mucho antes de que existiera la prohibición de drogas en el país", dice el investigador Luis Astorga Almanzá, cuya línea de trabajo es la sociohistoria del narcotráfico en México.
Although he’s thought of as a narco-saint, in reality Malverde was revered “long before the existence of drug prohibition in Mexico” says researcher Luis Astorga Almanzá, who has studied the sociohistory of narcotraffic in Mexico for many years.

"Se está estigmatizando a una gran cantidad de gente que cree en Malverde y que nada tiene qué ver con el tráfico de drogas. La historia precede a la prohibición de las drogas, era un bandido social en la época del porfiriato cuando no estaban prohibidas algunas plantas que ahora lo están y cuyo comercio era legal", según explica y se puede apreciar mejor en su estudio El siglo de las drogas: El narcotráfico, del porfiriato al nuevo milenio (2005).
“A large group of Malverde worshippers are stigmatized even though they have nothing to do with drug traffic. The history of this worship antedates drug prohibition, and refers to a social bandit during the Pofiriato dictatorship at a time when drugs that are now illegal were not prohibited commerce”, an argument more fully elaborated in his study “The Century of Drugs: Narcotraffic from the Porfiriato to the New Millenium” (2005)
"Lo que hizo más visible la creencia de Malverde fue el poder económico y la ostentación de los traficantes que creen en él, de ahí que medios de comunicación lo hayan calificado de 'narco-santo', pero no toman en cuenta las creencias de gente que nada tiene que ver con el tráfico de drogas, sino con la creencia que se desarrolla de figuras fuera de la Iglesia católica que son veneradas por gente, generalmente de estrato humilde, que le atribuye una serie de milagros.”
“What made the Malverde worship visible was economic power and the blatan observations of traffickers who believed in him, and later by a media effect that validated him as a “narco-saint”. Unfortunately, this doesn’t take into account the belief of people who have nothing to do with drugs, nor the common practice of worshiping figures not acknowledged by the Catholic Church, especially when it involves people in humble circumstances who have attributed miracles to those figures.”
Investigador del Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), doctorado en sociología por la Universidad de París I y coordinador de la cátedra UNESCO, Transformaciones económicas y sociales relacionadas con el problema internacional, Astorga, de origen sinaloense, realizó uno de sus primeras publicaciones sobre Malverde en Mitología del narcotraficante en México (1995).
Researcher at the Institute of Social Investigation at the Autonomous University of Mexico, with a doctorate in sociology from the University of Paris, and currently coordinator of the UNESCO division “Economic and Social Transformations linked to International problems, Astorga was born in Sinaloa, and first wrote about Malverde in 1995 in “The Mythology of the Narcotrafficker in Mexico”
"En términos sociológicos, relacionar a Malverde sólo con el narcotráfico es privilegiar una parte del fenómeno, la más visible o la más espectacular, la que llama más la atención.”
In sociological terms, to link Malverde only to narcotraffic is to recognize only one part of the phenomenon — the most visible or the most spectacular— that which brings the most attention!”
Jesús Juárez Mazzo, un bandido generoso -como Chucho El Roto-, que robaba a los ricos y cuyo botín repartía a los pobres en la época del porfiriato, según se cuenta, y cuya fecha de muerte se acepta como el 3 de mayo de 1909, día de su fiesta, es descrito así por la investigadora y crítica de arte Ida Rodríguez Prampolini, El culto a Jesús Malverde, editado por Contrapunto en Veracruz:
The history of Jesus Juarez Mazzo, a benevolent bandit — like that of Chucho El Roto—who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor during the Porfiriato period, and whose feast day is the day of his death on May 3rd, 1909 is elaborated more completely by researcher and art critic Ida Rodriguez Prampolini in her book “the Cult of Jesus Malverde” (published by Contrapunto in Veracruz)”
"La leyenda dice que después de muerto su cuerpo permaneció colgado en un mezquite por órdenes del gobernador, y para escarmiento de sus seguidores no debería dársele sepultura. Nadie se atrevía a bajarlo, hasta que un arriero que pasó por el lugar lo hizo, cubriendo los restos con piedras, no sin antes pedir a su espíritu que le ayudara a encontrar una mula cargada de oro que tenía perdida, la encontró y comenzó a difundir el culto de Malverde milagroso."
“Legend says that after his death, his body was hung in a mesquite tree by order of the governor, and he was forbidden burial as a warning to Malverde’s followers. No one dared to take the body down until a passing mule-skinner did so, and covered his remains with rocks, but not before asking Malverde’s spirit to find a missing mule that was loaded with gold. The mule was recovered, and the cult of a miraculous Malverde began to spread.
Ahí mismo se explica que el nombre de "Malverde" no está bien fundamentado, algunos dicen que era porque robaba envuelto en hojas de plátano para perderse entre la naturaleza tropical de la zona; otros más hacen referencia a las supersticiones del lugar, pues al diablo le llaman el "verde", es decir, un mal diablo. O quizá la más acertada en referencia a la hoja de mariguana como "el mal verde".
The same author explains that the origin of Malverde’s name is not well documented, and some say that it came from a practice of disguising himself with banana leaves to elude capture amongst the natural vegetation of the region; others make reference to the superstitions of the place, and the devil was called “the green one” — the bad devil. Or perhaps, it is a reference to the marijuana leaf which was called the “bad green”.
Astorga explica que la creencia común de esta figura se desarrolló porque la mayoría de los traficantes de clases populares lo adoptaron por medio de familiares y generaciones anteriores que compartían la creencia, independientemente del trabajo al que se dedicaban.
Astorga explains that common worship of this figure evolved when a majority of traffickers from popular (lower) classes adopted it through their contact with relatives and earlier generations who had shared the belief, independently of the work they did.
"La gente que lo asocia únicamente con eso (tráfico de drogas) está perdiendo de vista la característica antropológica y la dimensión histórica, que es importante para entender el porqué de la persistencia de la creencia."
People who link this belief only to drug traffic miss the broader anthropological characteristics and historical aspects playing a major part in the persistence of this worship.
La figura completa del santo porta un sombrero, una escuadra colgada en el cuello y una faja de dinero que le sale de los bolsos, y su rostro es una mezcla de Pedro Infante y Jorge Negrete.
A complete image of this saint wears a hat, has a bandana around his neck, and a stack of bills stuffed in his pockets; and his face is a blending of those matinee and musical idols Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete.
El personaje fue llevado al teatro en Sinaloa y recorrió con éxito varios estados del país, obra célebre del dramaturgo sinaloense Óscar Liera (1946-1990), titulada El jinete de la Divina Providencia, basada precisamente en la leyenda urbana del santo y publicada en 2008 por el Fondo de Cultura Económica (FCE) en Teatro Escogido, Óscar Liera.
The figure of Malverde was brought to the stage in Sinaloa and had a long successful run in several Mexican states, through a play called “The Horseman of Divine Providence” by Sinaloan playwrite Oscar Liera (1946-1990), and which included the urban legends of this saint. The play was also published and distributed in 2008 by the Fondo de Cultura Economica (FCE).

En referencia a la comercialización de imágenes o figuras alusivas al mundo del narco, Astorga dice que "vivimos en una sociedad capitalista, una sociedad de consumo en la que todo es comerciable, no habría por qué ser distinto a otros países, a menos que existieran alguna serie de impedimentos, pero aquí no es posible".
With respect to the commercialization of Malverde’s image and other allusions to the narco world, Astorga says that “we live in a capitalist society just like other countries, and we’re a consumer society where everything is for sale unless roadblocks are put in the way, and that isn’t possible here”
El investigador explica que es erróneo referirse con conceptos académicos al respecto, pues en su opinión son etiquetas mediáticas que construyen un lenguaje especial:
This social researcher explains that it would be a mistake to try to interpret with academic concepts, because in his opinion these ideas are media labels that fit it into their special language.
"No hay mucha imaginación al respecto, con el prefijo de 'narco' se hace referencia a la visión de lo que los medios piensan es el mundo del narcotraficante, pero no hay nada más."
“It’s not very imaginative in that respect, since the prefix “narco” is added to whatever the media wants to link to the narcotraffic world, but it remains little more than a label”
Comenta que la creencia en Malverde, en la Santa Muerte, y en otros santos también asociados al mundo de la delincuencia, dependen del "origen y trayectoria social, del capital cultural y, por supuesto, de la jerarquía que tienen al respecto; en el mundo de los traficantes, mientras más alta es la jerarquía más se acercan a la de los santos oficiales. Los santos o figuras religiosas en las que creen, mientras más alto nivel tienen en el negocio, se van acercando más a la sociedad legal".
He added that belief in Malverde, in Holy Death, and other saints linked to the world of crime, comes from an “origin and social trajectory, from cultural capital, and certainly sits within an established hierarchy of importance; and in the drug-trafficking world, the worship of “official saints” is more important. Even so, saints or religious figures fall further down the scale of importance than does business, and in that respect narcotraffickers share a great deal with a legal society”.
Astorga Almanzá también es miembro del Sistema Nacional de Investigadores y de la Academia Mexicana de Ciencias. Entre sus publicaciones destacan: Drogas sin fronteras (2003) y Seguridad, traficantes y militares (2007), además de diversos artículos en revistas científicas. En abril de 2008, se realizó en Sinaloa el Foro Internacional sobre Drogas Ilícitas, donde participó con una conferencia magistral en referencia a este último libro.
Luis Astorga Almanzá is also a member of the National System of Researchers and of the Mexican Academy of Science. Several of his pubications are widely recognized for their excellence: “Drugs without Borders” (2003) and “Security, traffickers and the military” (2007) and he has also published many studied in distinguished articles in academic journals. In April of 2008, he participated in the International Forum Examining Illegal Drugs, where he was a keynote speaker on themes described in his 2007 book.
Acerca de la Sesión Especial de la Asamblea General de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas (UNGASS) sobre drogas, mediante el Segmento de Alto Nivel de la Comisión de Estupefacientes, donde se discutirán las políticas de control de drogas, según destaca su página web, el investigador comenta:
In speaking about the Special Session of the General United Nations Assembly over drugs, he is chair of a section of the High Commission on Narcotics, where politics of drug control are considered. On his web page, Astorga says:
"Yo creo que aquí se van a plantear varias tendencias sobre drogas y democracia, una posición que pretende tomar medidas adoptadas por países europeos en equilibrar la política con una visión preventiva; por ejemplo, al descriminalizar el consumo de drogas, como la mariguana, hasta cierto tipo de consumo."
“I believe that this is where we can lay a groundwork for examining several trends relating to drugs and democracy, a place that can take into account many measures adopted by European countries to balance politics with their preventive vision; for example, that of decriminalizing consumption of some drugs, for instance marijuana, under some cirumstances”
En referencia a si se pronuncia a favor o en contra de la legalización de esta planta, dice: "Ese tipo de planteamientos son los que están en debate, no tiene sentido decir si estoy a favor o en contra, lo interesante es ver el estado de la discusión y lo que se plantea en los foros internacionales. Eso tiene que ver con la política de salud y un cambio en la percepción de los consumidores de drogas y los grandes traficantes que utilizan la violencia y se confrontan con el Estado."
With respect to whether or not he favours or is opposed to legalization of marijuana, he says: “Those types of proposals are on the table, and I’m not inclined to say whether I personally favour or oppose them; the most important and interesting thing is to get State get involved in a debate and to see what emerges from the international forums. This ought to be about the politics of health and a changing perceptions of drug consumers and the large traffickers using violence to confront the state.”
Translated by J. Creechan
For more information about Malverde in English, see Creechan, James H., and Jorge de la Herran-Garcia. 2005. "Without God or Law: Narcoculture and belief in Jesús Malverde." Religious Studies and Theology 24:53.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Hedging Bets Against the Swine Flu

The chapel of Jesus Malverde, commonly known as the patron saint of narcotraffickers, sits across from Sinaloa State's Government Centre. The State, like all others in Mexico is planning strategy and creating policies that will minimize the impact of a predicted H1N1 pandemic. As everyone knows, most influenza outbreaks are unusual outside of the winter season — but on a day when the temperature hit 47.5 Celsius in Culiacán there were reports that at least 5,000 people had been diagnosed with an infection of the H1N1. virus.

Malverde faithful are known to hedge their bets and the prayers to this putative saint are cross-referenced to recognized saints and Catholic figures such as the Virgen of Guadalupe, San Judeo de Tadeo (figure in background is San Judeo) and others. But this picture of a visitor to the chapel seems to indicate that it might also be wise to put some faith in science and hygiene.
A report about the swine flu and the picture is from Rio Doce, a weekly periodical in Sinaloa.