Interview of Maria Guadalupe Castañeda, Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico

Works in the field of the support to agricultural projects according to principles of fair trade. Offers support for organizations through advisory services, planning, and assessment in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico.

Chilo Villareal, décembre 2003

En d’autres langues : français - Español

I. What is the main goal of your economic activity?



The promotion of integral alternative projects: production, industrialization, marketing, agricultural products, promoting an alternative fair market.



II. Are you engaged in a DIFFERENT economy? How does it differ from the dominant economy?



An economy that compensates justly, giving beneficiaries what is rightly theirs. The other economy exploits, produces surplus value for the benefit of employers or merchants.



III. . What does ABUNDANCE mean to you? Is material abundance an aim or the means to achieve something else? What is that something else?



Abundance: having enough, the basic necessities and something more to live with dignity; material abundance is not everything.

Something more: within what is essential, having food, health, clothing, education, and above all preserving an abundance of ethical community values that maintain harmonious linkages in the distribution of goods.



IV. What VALUES do you and your fellow workers put into practice in your daily life and in your work? Is it possible, in your opinion, for these values to become the predominant values of society as a whole? How can they be mainstreamed?



Values: sharing work, knowledge, unity, justice, solidarity, perseverance, correctness, experiences.

Can they become predominant values in society?: it’s difficult because of the selfishness, individualism, the ideas of personal success and individualistic self-improvement, but it is not impossible to gradually implement these values through organizations.



V. What innovations have you developed in terms of organization, management and appropriation of the fruits of labor?



Innovations: the methodology applied from the beginning of a project, which leads participants to make the project and its outputs their own; a participatory and responsible methodology, with rotation of tasks, training and capacity-building based on needs so that the project may yield results for the beneficiaries themselves.



VI. Do you think working in solidarity networks or in solidarity production chains is important? What are these in your opinion?



Networking is highly important, « in unity there is strength », not only economic strength, but also the power of awareness and social, even political, strength.

Networks can be regional, national, Latin American, North American. As they already exist, we need to strengthen these networks.



VII. Does your activity influence the life of the community? How and in which spheres?



Impact: projects must always benefit families and the community. Primarily improving life, in terms of food, clothing, health, housing, education, services, in an integral manner. And we’re achieving this in the organizations we participate in.



VIII. What is work in your experience? What’s its value and meaning in life?



Work: it’s the activity that one carries out daily, from the home, in the administration, education, support, in organizations.

Value and meaning: I can’t conceive a person living in idleness, I believe every person must and needs to work, because to work is to recreate the world, it is a mission human beings have.



IX. What role do WOMEN play in a cooperation and solidarity-oriented economic initiative?



Women’s role: in general women have more managing sense and experience. In economic matters, they are more prudent in handling resources, generally more honest, more organized, bookkeeping comes easier to them, as does accountability to the organization, and an important element is that there are organizations where the participation of women is much greater than that of men.



X. How can public policies and the State contribute to the advancement of a Socio-Economy of Solidarity?



Public policies and the State: if they generate programs and projects that support and strengthen the organizations and networks. For example: import control in basic commodities, actual guaranteed prices, rural subsidy programs similar to those implemented in every country, support for marketing inside the country and abroad (control of speculators in supply centers), policies for purchasing goods and distributing directly to consumers.

Advisory programs, training, support for the industrialization of rural products and artisan goods. Examples: from Brazil, a National Secretary of Solidarity Economy; also purchasing food from small-scale producers and using it to supply hospitals, schools, hospices, etc.; soft loan systems, such as fonaes and others.



XI. Do you believe the globalization of cooperation and solidarity is possible? How can it become a reality?



Globalization of cooperation and solidarity: yes, as a new way, it’s the articulation of organizations, networks, chains, which is being increasingly strengthened and proves that another economy is possible.

It is possible, in practice; the achievements of organizations, alternative practices, « bartering, alternative currencies » are all possible.

Also by taking into account the contribution of economists as organic intellectuals who agree with this project and enhance its technical and practical aspects.

Continuing our efforts to strengthen networks.

Sources :

Vision workshop of the WSSE

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