Return to Chiapas

author: Emily Jacobi
date: 2014-02-01
title: Return to Chiapas
categories: – blog

This month, Dd is returning to Chiapas, Mexico to continue an initiative we began in 2012 called Equal Footing. Working with Mayan villages in the Lacondon Jungle, we are supporting their efforts to communicate with the Mexican authorities who have threatened them with eviction from the rainforest where they live.

On our first visit, in 2012, we focused on supporting the community with emergency training on how to use a satellite phone to communicate with their lawyer, and photography and video trainings with women in the community to support their efforts to tell their story as well as document interactions with the government. Almost two years later, the community has come a far way. They were awarded a grant which enables them to pay for the satellite phone themselves, allowing them to stay in touch with legal support, and they are still powering it thanks to the solar panel charger we brought down with us. The women continue to use the photo and video cameras, and community members have been able to video document interactions with government officials as well as regional political meetings with other campesino communities.

However, the threat to their right to live on this land remains, and our return trip coincides with efforts by the government to map the areas. One of these communities has requested we return to help them continue their efforts to dialogue with the government. Thanks to support from the Abundance and Channel Foundations, we traveling to the community to conduct participatory mapping and video workshops.

In addition to me and Dd’s Program Director, Gregor MacLennan, who will be leading the mapping portion of the workshop, we are joined by a great team of collaborators. Aaron Soto-Karlin & David Soto-Karlin are filmmakers and anthropologists who initially conveyed the community’s request to work with us. Carla Pataky is joining us from Mexico City to lead the participatory video workshop with women in the community, and Emory Mort is helping to document our process and codify our workshop curriculum.

We’ll be completely offline til February 11, but we look forward sharing the community’s photos, videos and maps when we return to internet access.