Cancun Dispatch: 8/31


| September 2003

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO -- In the morning we go next door, where Citlali, another of Carlos; sisters, gives us breakfast. Citlali is Nahuatl for star. She is a psychologist but works running a small shop downstairs. The family has a restaurant next door that looks like a place to get good, inexpensive Mexican food, and there are few things I like more. Citlali serves us mango and papaya and homemade yogurt and a whole plate of wonderful chicken, which I, the last unregenerate carnivore in the movement, am very grateful for. I'd tried to send yesterday's update, but Rodrigo's phone is cut off because they were late with the bill. He asks his sister, but her phone is cut off, too. Apparently, the newly privatized phone company cuts off service if you are even an hour late with the bill.

We go back to the encampment, and I start the morning by asking the students to talk about their visions for the world, to think about what we're fighting for. It's very moving to hear them talk about a world where there isn't such a division between rich and poor, where everyone has enough, where people are respected for being human beings. A small, shy woman who hasn't spoken much, says that her vision is for a world in which women and men are equal -- or if not equal, because there are differences, equivalent in power, where she can be in the world like a man. Another young woman says that in our culture there are subjects and objects, we are subjects and nature is an object, but to indigenous people everything in nature is a subject, and that is the world she wants. Many of them speak of wanting to be more in balance with nature, wanting a world of creativity and joy.

Then we form new affinity groups, real ones this time, based on the level of risk different people are willing to take. I have them line up along an axis, with one pole representing maximum risk, the other side representing no risk at all, and ask them to arrange themselves. They seem to form naturally into three blocs, a perfect bell curve with the majority in the middle, so they form quickly into groups and I ask them to think about actions that can embody the visions we've just been talking about, that can make visible a bit of the world we want to create. They come back in half an hour with lots of creative ideas, from reading stories to children on the street or setting up a school in an intersection on the day the WTO discusses services to painting their visions on the pavement. We carry on with more organizing, broken only by one final role play when I get one group to stage a surprise attack on the others. We end with a group Tarot reading over a very late lunch. Most of the cards are upside down.

Then I get rushed off to the airport and fly back to Cancun, so tired I nearly walk onto the wrong plane. All the pillars at the airport are now decorated with signs welcoming the WTO, but security is still minimal. My energy returns when I rejoin our whole cluster of friends at the Tacos Arabe restaurant, where everyone is sitting in the outdoor courtyard drinking Victoria beer and eating guacamole. The mood is high -- several more of our friends from California have come. Tomorrow the Welcome Center will open, and the mobilization is really underway.

To read Starhawk's reports from other global justice actions, see her book Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising. (New Society Publishers, 2002). Her website, has ordering information.

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