Chiapas: Indigenous Rights and Environmental Justice

August 3, 2013August 11, 2013

The attention of the world focused on Chiapas on January 1st, 1994, the day that NAFTA went into effect, when an uprising led by indigenous Mexicans brought notice to their precarious living conditions.

Join Global Exchange as we learn about what has motivated popular movements in Mexico. Examine the recent history of the Chiapas region and hear about challenges facing the struggle for indigenous autonomy. Learn about the direct effects of globalization in the context of NAFTA and the on-going efforts for economic justice and democracy. Dialogue with indigenous peasants who have been working for the right to own the land upon which they live and work, and to govern their communities according to indigenous traditions and customs.

We will visit with diverse organizations and their representatives in the area: from religious and community leaders to non-governmental organizations and women's cooperatives, all working for peace and stability in the region. From a base in the colonial town of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, our delegation will travel to surrounding communities to speak with indigenous and campesino organization leaders, activists, educators, students, and artisans. Through their folk art, food, and music, we'll get a unique perspective into their time-honored traditions.

Take advantage of this opportunity to meet people involved in grassroots movements while learning more about the unique history and vibrant culture of Chiapas for a multi-layered trip unlike any other.

Note: In the past, this delegation has included short hikes to remote communities. While this activity requires that participants be physically fit, note that if you so wish or are unable, you may opt out of this activity and the program officer will accommodate you alternatively.

Please email Corina if you would like to recieve a sample itinerary for this delegation.

Program Highlights may include: 
  • Visit the Montes Azules Ecological Bio-Reserve and learn how the Mexican government, transnational corporations, and international agencies are plundering the region for its strategic importance in biodiversity, water sources, lumber and oil
  • Learn about the impact of NAFTA and neoliberal policies on indigenous communities and explore the historical incompatibility between the Mexican justice system and the region's indigenous peoples
  • Visit local communities to learn about indigenous culture and autonomous indigenous governing systems
  • Hear about the most recent political developments, ethnic relations and social changes from a grassroots perspective
  • Learn about issues of land ownership, eviction and repossession
  • Discuss the consequences of historical inequality of land distribution, and how constitutional reforms to end communal landholding have affected poor campesinos
  • Travel to a highland community to meet and talk with members of a successful women's cooperative
  • Learn about indigenous organizations specialized in biodiversity and medicinal value of local plant life
  • Meet with internally displaced people living in temporary encampments
  • Participate in a discussion with indigenous representatives to discuss land issues, their struggles, and their culture
  • Celebrate the history and the beauty of the people of Chiapas with the other participants and new friends in Mexico
  • Hear from community and religious leaders who will discuss their visions for peace, stability and justice
  • All highlights and activities subject to change, as conditions permit

Price Includes: 
  • Double-room accommodations; on-ground transportation including airport pick-up and drop-off; Global Exchange bilingual trip leader; preparatory reading and orientation materials; admission and fees to all program activities; two meals a day (breakfast and dinner)
  • NOT INCLUDED: airfare, airport departure taxes, lunches, tips, and personal expenses. Single rooms available for an additional $200
  • Please note: You will secure your own air tickets. Participants should fly into the Tuxtla Gutierrez airport in the state of Chiapas. You will usually need to stop in Mexico City and change planes before you arrive in Tuxtla. San Cristobal de las Casas, where the program is based, is an hour from the Tuxtla airport. There are direct flights from Mexico City to San Cristobal that leave early in the morning but are on small engine planes and are hard to connect to unless you spend the night in Mexico City or take a red eye from the U.S the night before. A less expensive option is to take a bus from Mexico City direct to San Cristobal de las Casas. The bus ride is about 15-17 hours and is quite safe and inexpensive. All major airlines fly to Mexico City but only a few carriers fly to Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas. Those airlines are Mexicana, Aeromexico, and Aviasca
  • All Global Exchange participants who arrive and depart on scheduled trip dates are guaranteed airport transportation. Please notify program coordinator with special travel arrangements
How to Register: 

We must receive your application and a non-refundable deposit of $400 two months before departure. Payments by Mastercard, Visa and Discover are welcome.

This trip will be as diverse as possible in terms of race, age and life experiences. We strongly urge people of color to apply. In some cases, a limited number of partial scholarships are available for low-income applicants.

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